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GENA/FINN is the dual work of authors Hannah Moskowitz (A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD) and Kat Helgeson. Told entirely in blog posts, e-mails, text messages and other various forms of communication, GENA/FINN chronicles the burgeoning relationship between two young women who meet over their shared love of the fictional television show “Up Below.” Loosely based on the hit show, “Supernatural,” “Up Below” follows two handsome policemen and their powerful relationship --- one that has gives the fandom plenty of material to create fanfiction and fan art. Through this fandom the two quickly develop a close relationship as they struggle to balance “real life” with their increasingly important online lives.

"Fandom is an important escape from reality for many, and GENA/FINN highlights that importance."

What I appreciated most about this story is that it completely validates the importance of online relationships. In many ways, online relationships can be even more meaningful than those in “real life,” because there are fewer barriers. I loved seeing Finn (short for Stephanie) attempt to bring someone from her “real life” into the online presence she had previously kept secret. As someone who has made some of the most important relationships in my life through the same medium as Gena and Finn, I was very happy to see a thoughtful and accurate portrayal of how these relationships are formed. I often found myself thinking “YES!” while reading messages between Gena and Finn as their relationship quickly escalated. Fandom is an important escape from reality for many, and GENA/FINN highlights that importance.

It is also refreshing to see two characters whose sexualities are not cut and dry. Seeing Finn torn between trying to make things work with her longtime boyfriend, Charlie, and her feelings for Gena felt especially poignant. So often bisexual characters are erased from popular narratives, or forced to “choose” at their conclusions, but Moskowitz and Helgeson not only celebrated their characters’ sexualities, but left their endings open, which was a refreshing change.

This novel was a lightning-fast read that I struggled to put down. Its unique format had me quickly and eagerly turning pages. I couldn’t wait to read what happened next. Perhaps I’m a little biased as this story felt particularly familiar to me, but I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in character-driven stories. Fanfiction writers and readers should feel especially connected to GENA/FINN, as should anyone looking for a uniquely formatted book with clever twist.

Reviewed by Katherine Szabo on May 25, 2016

by Kat Helgeson and Hannah Moskowitz