by Rainbow Rowell
So in a book haul, I mentioned I got an e-book of this instead of the hardcover because I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I adored the authors first book (well, the first of hers that I read), Eleanor & Park, but I wasn't expecting to love this one. Well, it totally proved me wrong. I really, really loved it. Probably even more than I loved Eleanor & Park.Summary: Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .
But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
I should probably explain the reason I wasn't totally sold on this book from the summary. Sometimes it's good to read a book and be able to relate to the things the characters are going through, but then there are certain things about myself that I hate recognising in characters because instead of feeling comforting, it just makes me cringe.
Cath is very introverted, she's shy, she's socially awkward, and I'm all of those things too and it's bad enough having go through my own life being that way without having to read about characters who are like that too.
Same with the fanfiction thing, sort of, I love fanfiction and I wrote fanfiction for years (my best friend met her husband because I wrote fanfiction), but it makes me uncomfortable reading about characters who are into that. So I normally try to avoid stories where the characters hit a bit too close to home for me in certain ways--it's just uncomfortable to read about.
But, and I don't know how she managed it, Rainbow Rowell managed to write all these things in a way that felt true but didn't bother me. I loved the way she wrote this. Sure, there were little moments when Cath annoyed me, but for the majority of the book I loved her character and she seemed like someone I would happily be friends with and be nerdy with.
And that was a lot of rambling to explain why I wasn't sure I was going to love the book, but the point is, I had a total aversion to things that make up a large chunk of this story and yet I loved the book anyway, and it takes a really damn talented author to pull that off.
The characters in this were fantastic. I loved Cath and her dad (Wren, not so much, although she grew on me in the end). Reagan was great and Levi was just... he was lovely and I'd like to keep him. And I loved the way the story ended--so many books would force the issue with their mum and end up reading like a Lifetime movie, but this one just felt natural and realistic and I loved that.
The romance was ridiculously sweet. Probably even better than the romance in Eleanor & Park. And I lovelovelove the writing too.
Honestly, the only thing about the book I didn't love was the fanfiction thing. Well, I did love it, but there were bits of fanfiction included in the story. And it was really well done (I actually ended up wishing I could read the fanfic, if only it actually existed), it's just that sometimes the excerpts were a bit too long. Like, I'd need to get through a big chunk of fanfic to get to back to Cath and Levi and so it would feel like the fanfic got in the way sometimes and could've been shortened or just...this is one of those times when I'd have been content with being told something instead of shown.
But that wasn't a major issue for me, it's just that while I did like reading those fanfic excerpts, I loved reading about Cath so the longer fanfic sections just had me impatient to get back to the main story (the shorter ones were totally fine, great even).
Anyway, I suppose that's enough rambling for one review. This gets 5 out of 5 stars from me, and I'm so glad that Julie gushed about the book enough for me to give it a chance (+1 to the co-blogger for introducing me to a new favourite).