What Makes a Retelling Successful? | A Geekerella Inspired Discussion

Okay, I don't hate YA retellings of things.* I just don't have the best luck with them.**

*other disclaimers: I do not solely determine a book's success. This is a discussion on what I want to see in retellings versus what we actually see. 
**also, this is not a review of Geekerella, if you want that, go to my goodreads review.

So, like most people, I was really excited when I got approved for an eARC of Geekerella by Ashley Poston. I mean, it's a Cinderella retelling with a geeky main character, a killer cover, and a cosplay ball at what is essentially Comic Con. And it was cute. And it had all the Cinderella things. Neither of these are bad things, but with a story that's been told and told through every format imaginable, I expected more different things. 

Let me explain. 

Like a lot of little girls that grew up in the late 1990's and throughout the 2000's, I was obsessed with Cinderella. Forget watching Christmas movies at Christmas, I forced my family to watch the animated Cinderella twice. (True story, I actually remember this Christmas. I was a strange kid.) I also religiously watched the direct-to-DVD sequels and every remake featuring my favorite former Disney Channel stars.

For Geekerella specifically, that's where I feel like this retelling stopped. We didn't chop off the step-sisters' heels. But most of all, there was no added depth to our villainous characters. So what are my impossibly high standards for YA retellings?

Okay, so if you've written a book or are even thinking of writing a book, you're clearly imaginative. What I'm saying here is do something different. Go off the rails a little. Be based more on the original tale. Play off the tropes that come from this tale. Make one of the main characters LGBTQ+ or maybe twist the original tale and make it a same-sex relationship.

You don't have to follow the rules. You don't have to follow the exact story structure of the original. Be aware of what's out there in the terms of your tale and play around with it.

This is where I really struggled with Geekerella because I need my villains/evil-stepmothers/antagonists to have depth. They need a reason to be evil. Alternatively, how do they end up differently than the original characters? 

Basically, I thrive on complex characters. Give me all of them.

Now, this one isn't a requirement because some people most people don't want all their characters to suffer and endure torturous actions. But I do. I want to see my characters go through a time, whether they're the main character or the villain. Someone needs to suffer for me to be really happy with any book.

Most retellings are fairytales. Some aren't, but the most talked about and most popular are, more often than not. The originals don't often end happily but all the Disney versions do. Surprise me by killing someone off or twisting the original ending to give us a bittersweet ending.

Make it a fantasy. Make it sci-fi. Put it in the past. Put it in the future. Make it unique, whatever it is.

Make me fall in love with the setting and the characters and the fun twists that've been added in.

Do you have a similar issue with YA retellings or am I actually all alone? What're some of your favorite and most unique retellings that you've read? Tell me down in comments!


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