College freshman Liv is more than just a fangirl: The Starveil movies are her life. When her favorite character is killed off, Liv Just. Can't. Deal. She launches an online campaign to bring her hero back to life. Step one: Bribe her best friend, Xander, into helping by making costumes for his steampunk cosplay. Step two: Balance her booming fandom life with school, parental disapproval, and her (nonexistent) love life. Maybe a trip to Dragon Con with Xander would help?
Danika Stone’s All the Feels, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, is a heartfelt and honest look at life, love and what it means to be a passionate fan.
Praise for All the Feels:
"This is an insider’s look into the life of a fangirl. ... Liv’s experiences with fandom will resonate with many teens." School Library Journal
"If you’ve ever been a geek who’s felt out of place, this is the book for you!" Seeking Book Boyfriends
“Well written, funny, with a side of romance.” Mara M., reader on SwoonReads.com
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All the Feels
By Danika Stone
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2016 Karin Anastasia Goble
All rights reserved.
(THE LORD OF THE RINGS)
The star freighter's hangar lay destroyed in the aftermath of the massacre. Overhead fluorescents flickered on and off, yellow safety lights humming in darkened corners. Blood marred the corrugated panels of the launch floor, and fingerprints marked the last moments of the flight crew. The dead were piled in heaps ... but the room was far from empty.
The hangar echoed with macabre slurping. Alien creatures hunched spiderlike as they fed on the bodies of the dead and dying. Across the deck, interstellar transports were tumbled like children's toys, some untouched, others burning. Electricity buzzed and snapped from exposed wires. Only one escape pod remained intact. Its door hung agape, a forgotten oxygen pack and the remains of what could have been a young man alongside it.
"Dragnat all anyway," a voice grumbled.
From the far corner of the room, a rugged man with sweat-slicked blond hair limped into view, a little girl wearing an oversize freighter captain's jacket a step behind him. Both carried blasters — the jumped-up weapon of the Rebellion — though the child's dragged along the floor, too heavy for her thin arms. The man's broad shoulders were hunched in anger, his expression determined despite the bloody slice across one cheekbone and the bullet wound spreading blood below his right knee. He glanced both ways.
Faint beeping filled the air, the time remaining flashing on panels around the room.
1:32 ... 1:31 ... 1:30 ... 1:29 ...
The child stared up at him with wide eyes. "Spartan?"
He gazed longingly at the escape pod. Perhaps forty feet separated the craft from the mismatched pair, but there were at least twice that many feeders blocking their path. "The bugs are still at it. Gonna be a hell of a fight to get through." The aliens were engrossed in their gorging, but any movement would spark another attack. He knew this from experience.
A small hand tugged at his jacket. "Can we go back and hide?"
He crouched beside the girl, brushing a tangled curl behind her ear. Pain tightened his features, but he forced it away with a confident smile. "Countdown's already on. We've gotta go, darlin'."
The girl nodded. "Is there another way out?" she asked, her eyes drifting to the grisly tableau beyond his shoulder.
"Not this time."
The little girl lifted her blaster. The oversize weapon wobbled in her hands. "You run," she said, nodding to the teeming deck. "I'll cover you."
The man let out a choking laugh and stood. He ruffled her hair. "Next time. All right?" He reached for her gun. "I'll take both blasters. You run to the pod."
The girl let him take her weapon but didn't move. "But if you —"
Spartan cleared his throat. "Get in the pod and blast out of here the second the door's latched. I'll follow you in the next pod." He winked. "Easy as pie."
The child twisted around, searching for the second escape shuttle she couldn't see. Spartan touched her chin, forcing her to look up at him. "When you're free of the ship, punch in the codes for Terra and —"
An ear-shattering alarm blared through every speaker in the freighter, and the child threw her arms around Spartan's legs. "Warning," a woman's electronic voice announced. "Self-destruct protocol in thirty seconds. All personnel in escape pods launch immediately. Twenty-nine ... Twenty-eight ... Twenty-seven ..."
The alarm unsettled the aliens from their meal. The bugs rose on spindly legs, exoskeletons clattering as they scuttled nervously away from the corpses. The clicking of mandibles reached the man and child, still poised in the doorway. It was a warning, the last one they'd get.
"You ready, darlin'?" Spartan asked. His attention was on the bugs, moving in. A blaster would slow them — not stop them — and he knew it.
"Fifteen ... Fourteen ... Thirteen ..."
The nearest bug crouched, its compound legs compressing as it prepared to leap.
"G'bye, Spartan," the girl whispered. "I'll wait for —"
The lights abruptly switched to red, flashing alongside a deafening beacon. "Ten ..." Another flash. "Nine ..." Flash.
The bug hissed.
"Run!" Spartan bellowed.
The girl sprinted across the metal deck, her shoes sliding on patches of blood. The roar of weaponry echoed off panels and girders. The nearest bug flew backward, shot midjump. The girl dashed past. Drawn by the sounds of the attack, the other aliens charged. Light flared from the barrels of both blasters. The closest bugs fell, their crustacean exo-skins torn open, but for every one that stopped moving, two more replaced it. The feeders clambered over the dead and the bodies of one another, focused entirely on the single remaining human who dared attack them.
"Seven ... Six ..."
Alone and unseen, the child climbed into the pod, slamming her small fist against the door release, and buckling herself into the chair. The only time she looked up was when the sound of the blasters stopped.
"Five ... Four ..."
Tears on her cheeks, she hit the release button and was launched backward from the grip of the dying ship.
"Three ... Two ..."
For a moment, everything hung, unchanged, against the black sheet of night. The ship rippled. With a shudder, fire spewed across the hull in a chain reaction. In a flash, a recoil implosion drew the ship's metal sheathing inward like crumpled tissue. After that, there was only silence.
A solitary escape pod, containing the last remaining member of the once-proud Star Freighter Elysium, crossed the darkness of space, en route to Terra.
* * *
The aisle lighting came on with a faint buzz, and the spray of stars on-screen faded from reality into two dimensions. A young woman in the front row watched, heart in throat, as the credits rolled. Music swelled in a trumpet blare as the Starveil theme surged. Tears filled her eyes. The first and largest name hovered on-screen for an interminable moment: Tom Grander in his final role as Matt Spartan.
"No!" she cried.
The movie theater was oddly quiet. A few people stumbled drunkenly down the aisles, their faces racked with horror. A woman at the back blew her nose with a honk, and someone else cleared his throat. The final credits rolled to a stop, music fading, and those remaining stared at the screen, hopeful.
There was no postcredit clip as there'd been with the previous four films.
The main lights rose, revealing a luminous young woman, with tears streaming down her face, and her companion, a dark-haired man, like a photograph from another century. He had one ankle crossing his knee, a pair of doeskin gloves clutched in one hand, and a pocket watch dangling from his lapel.
The brightness had released the audience, and the exodus from the theater began in earnest. A middle-aged woman did an awkward two-step as she exited in front of the pair. Subdued chatter followed the dwindling crowd, whispers rather than hoots.
"Liv, are you okay?" the young man asked.
Liv shook her head, her long hair falling forward to hide her face. "No," she croaked. Xander would never understand what this felt like: watching your favorite character die. He wasn't a Starveil fan like she was.
The strangely dressed young man glared at the faded screen, eyes hooded in subtle dismay. "That ending was ... not quite what I'd expected."
"He's not dead," Liv said. "He can't be."
Xander ran his hands down his velvet lapels, signet ring twinkling. "But if the girl got in the last pod," he mused, "and the countdown was on four, then by the time —"
Liv spun on him. "He's not dead!" she shouted. "They'd never kill Spartan!"
He opened his mouth, then closed it again. After a moment, he lifted his pocket watch and peered down at the crystal surface. It was nearly 3:00 a.m., the midnight showing of the newest Starveil movie finished. Across the continental United States, countless other fans were emerging shell-shocked from theaters. Liv knew they should go, but she was rooted to her seat. If she left with Xander, then it was over. It was real.
Spartan can't be dead!
Xander dropped the watch back into his pocket. He sat up, pulling on his gloves.
"We should go," he said gently.
"I can't. Not yet."
A vacuum started. Xander stood, flipping the long tails of his jacket behind him and stretching. "Liv," he sighed. "I get that you're upset. But they're starting to clean the —"
A long, uneasy silence followed her outburst. The final patrons filed out the doors. Besides the cleaning crew, Xander and Liv were the only ones left. She knew he was waiting for her, but her long fall of brown hair blocked him from view. She felt the first rush of panicked sobbing about to start, and she forced it down.
Not dead, her mind screamed. Spartan can't be dead!
His hand brushed her shoulder. "You wait here," Xander said. "I'll go get the car."
She nodded. Xander squeezed her shoulder before he sprinted up the aisle.
No! No! NO! This can't be happening.
Liv's hands began to shake, the tremors spreading to her arms and legs. I don't believe it! MRM would NEVER kill off the main character. This is WRONG! She could feel the words bubbling in her throat, rage tipping the balance of her pain. Xander reached the door and glanced back one last time. This isn't real! I can't handle this! THIS ABSOLUTELY CANNOT BE HAPPENING!
He stepped through.
Liv waited until the theater door closed before she surged to her feet. The nearby attendant — a pimply teen sweeping popcorn — looked up with cow-eyed interest.
"This is wrong!" Liv shouted at the screen. "You can't do this to people! Spartan deserved a better ending! It's not FAIR!"
The boy's sweeping stopped.
"Spartan wasn't supposed to die! He had a mission — I believed in that! ... I believed in HIM!" Tears choked her words. "Spartan always makes it through, no matter WHAT! He's the hero of the story! He's the reason the resistance exists! He's ... He's ..."
"Miss?" the boy asked. "Are you okay?"
She turned on him, hands rising. "No! I'm not okay!" she screamed. "I'm ANYTHING but okay!" Liv took a sobbing breath. "Spartan's DEAD, don't you see? H-how is that supposed to be okay?!"
The attendant stared at her. "Miss, I —"
The boy's eyes darted to the other attendant, staring openmouthed at Liv's display. "Miss, I think you should probably leave the theater."
Liv took a few defiant steps forward. "Fine!" She kicked the empty popcorn bag out of her way and stomped up the aisle. The second attendant swung the door for her and jumped out of her way as she passed.
"Thanks!" the attendant called. "Come again!"
* * *
@LivOutLoud: Spartan can't be dead. I don't believe it. I need brain bleach. Something to UNSEE the last ten minutes of that film. *ugly crying*
@StarVeilBrian1981: @LivOutLoud You got into an early showing too?
@LivOutLoud: @StarVeilBrian1981 Yes-but I wish I hadn't! DON'T GO BRIAN.
@StarVeilBrian1981: @LivOutLoud Too late. Furious with MRM! How could he do this to us?
@LivOutLoud: @StarVeilBrian1981 How? He hates the fans. No question about it.
@StarVeilBrian1981: @LivOutLoud So done with this franchise. We deserved a better ending.
@LivOutLoud: @StarVeilBrian1981 Agreed. I couldn't leave the theater. My heart is broken. :(#RIPSpartan
@JoesWoes: @LivOutLoud @StarVeilBrian1981 Liv? Brian? Just logged on. How was Starveil 5? Tell me ALL the smutty details! MUST KNOW!:D #Spartan
@StarVeilBrian1981: @JoesWoes OMG OMG OMG DON'T SEE THE MOVIE, JOE!!!!!!!! STICK WITH FIC!!!!!!!!!!!! You can't unsee this. :(#Spartan #AllTheFeels
@JoesWoes: @StarVeilBrian1981 @LivOutLoud What happened?!?!? Tell me!
@LivOutLoud: @JoesWoes Search the #Spartan tag. Or don't ... Ugh.
@JoesWoes: @LivOutLoud Searching now.
@JoesWoes: @LivOutLoud This just-NO. It's a hoax. Some troll having fun!
@LivOutLoud: @JoesWoes This is not a hoax, Joe. It's real. I SAW THE MOVIE. MRM deserves a slow, painful death.
@JoesWoes: @StarVeilBrian1981 @LivOutLoud AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!
@LivOutLoud: @JoesWoes *gentle hugs* Sorry, bb.
@JoesWoes: @StarVeilBrian1981 @LivOutLoud I can't believe that's real. TELL ME THAT'S METAPHORIC DEATH, NOT LITERAL.
@LivOutLoud: @JoesWoes The credits said "Tom Grander in his FINAL role as Matt Spartan." This is NOT a metaphor. It's real. Spartan's dead.
@JoesWoes: @LivOutLoud No! It can't be! *clings* This is AWFUL!
@StarVeilBrian1981: @JoesWoes @LivOutLoud
@LivOutLoud: @StarVeilBrian1981 If I wasn't crying, Brian, I'd laugh. Your Photoshop skills are amazing. That's EXACTLY how it is!
@LivOutLoud: @JoesWoes *hugs* Sorry, hon. But you should see it prepared. (Bring tissues.) Tom Grander is phenomenal, but ... Ouch!
@JoesWoes: @LivOutLoud MRM killed our unicorn! I will NEVER get over this.
@StarVeilBrian1981: @JoesWoes @LivOutLoud Look at this one. RT: @Veilmeister
@JoesWoes: @StarVeilBrian1981 @Veilmeister It's good, but it doesn't make me feel any better. *sobs*
@LivOutLoud: @JoesWoes @StarVeilBrian1981 Me neither. :(((((I'm heading off to read some fic and cry.
@JoesWoes: @LivOutLoud AU fic, I hope. :(
@LivOutLoud: @JoesWoes AU forever. :(*sighs* This can't be real.
* * *
Liv stared at the empty kitchen table, considering her options. She and her mother had a large stash of plastic cutlery, but tonight she reached for the metal ones. Two glass tumblers followed the forks onto the table. Salt and pepper shakers finished the look. The effect was immediate: real, not pretend. On a whim, Liv considered using cloth napkins rather than paper towels, but she had no idea where to look. Liv couldn't remember the last time they'd eaten anything but takeout. Dad had been the one who cooked.
She moved from one spot to the other, arranging the settings while she replayed the last ten minutes of Starveil Five. She sat in the same position at the dinner table she'd sat at all her life. Her mother, Katherine, always took the place next to Liv, facing the empty spot that no one ever took, not even her mother's boyfriend, Gary, when he stayed for dinner. The chair and untouched place mat were like the artificial flowers in Grandma Fortin's house: sterile, scentless. But year after year, the dusty arrangement stayed.
Liv stepped past the empty chair, her memory full of the other nights in her childhood when her dad had sat there. It was a Thursday, Liv thought. I was setting the table — same as now — and he was already gone.
She pressed her lids closed, breathing slowly until the tightness in her chest faded.
I didn't know he was dead.
Hands quaking, Liv pulled down two plates and closed the cupboard doors. Her mother would be home with dinner soon. She'd be bringing something precooked and easy to serve. Takeout wasn't a question in the Walden household. It was a fact. Another thing that had changed that long-ago Thursday.
If she'd been feeling ambitious, Liv might have picked up groceries and persuaded Xander to teach her another of his "soon to be famous" recipes. With three little brothers and a mom who worked nights, he had taught himself how to cook. As Xander always said, "it was that or starve," but Liv had been proctoring in the audio lab all afternoon — adjusting audio levels for amateur musical performances — and by the time she made it back, she was wiped. Besides, Liv reasoned, whenever Xander cooked, he talked. ... And tonight she wasn't in the mood to hear about his latest cosplay ideas, or — worse yet — his last date with Arden, his bubbly girlfriend. The duo made a striking couple. (Liv could see that as much as anyone.) Arden was light and laughter to Xander's brooding looks, but Liv wasn't in the mood to hear about their evident happiness.
She was grieving.
Liv flopped onto the couch and pulled out her phone to scroll through the latest postings on the various Spartan websites. Almost a week after the Christmas Eve release, there were spoilers everywhere. The entire Starveil fandom was in an uproar over Spartan's death. Liv's throat grew thick and painful, and she searched until she found a fix-it AU, posted just today. She was halfway through reading it when she heard the garage door open. Katherine swirled through the doorway, coat flapping like the sails of a ship.
"Dinner's on!" she called, dropping a moisture-soaked bag onto the floor of the entrance.
Liv popped her head around the corner, snatching up the bag before it could soak through. "Smells good."
"Hope it tastes as good," Katherine said. "Missed lunch because of the presentation. I'm starving."
Liv peeked inside the paper bag as she headed to the kitchen. She groaned.
"Mom, you know I hate fried chicken."
Her mother gave a long-suffering sigh. "I had a coupon, Liv. Two can dine for —"
Excerpted from All the Feels by Danika Stone. Copyright © 2016 Karin Anastasia Goble. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part One: Boulder, Colorado,
Chapter 1: "My precious!",
Chapter 2: "I am a leaf on the wind.",
Chapter 3: "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.",
Chapter 4: "So say we all!",
Chapter 5: "This is my timey-wimey detector. It goes ding when there's stuff.",
Chapter 6: "My 'people skills' are 'rusty.'",
Chapter 7: "Don't talk out loud. You lower the IQ of the whole street.",
Chapter 8: "I'd just as soon kiss a Wookiee!",
Chapter 9: "Once more, with feeling.",
Part Two: Atlanta, Georgia,
Chapter 10: "Don't try this at home!",
Chapter 11: "Inconceivable!",
Chapter 12: "We're all mad here.",
Chapter 13: "A spark could be enough to set them ablaze.",
Chapter 14: "The truth is out there.",
Chapter 15: "Only one man calls me darlin'.",
Epilogue: "Everything is AWESOME!",
About the Author,