(Rainbow Rowell, 2013)
From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park. A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
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?
What I Liked
- I really liked all these characters to be honest. I think Reagan and Levi are my favorite by far, but I surprisingly really related to Cath (HATE the name Cather) which obviously means I liked her. You could say I was “rooting for her” through the whole story. I felt bad for the dad, and Wren kind of annoyed me, but redeemed herself by the end.
- College age!
- So thrilled that this was a cast of college aged characters! I know YA is meant for teens but the reality is that many adults are drawn to the YA genre, so it was refreshing to have characters who are not in high school. They were so natural, I felt like I knew them in my own college days.
- The Cover
- Can I do a book review without mentioning the cover? Apparently not. What can I say? I am a visual person, and pretty covers make me happy. Actually- this book has several different covers but this is the one that I read (which is my favorite color too!). Sorry about the poor lighting in the photo at the top. I actually took a picture of my own book this time (instead of finding one on the internet) and my apartment doesn’t have the best lighting :]
- I kind of love that Rowell seems to feature her characters in more than just the books they starred in. I mean there is the obvious presence of Simon and Baz in Fangirl (when they have their own book called Carry On), and it sounds like Cath and Levi made an appearance in her book Landlines as well (ever so briefly). I think that gesture is exactly the right way to “nod” (if you will) to her loyal fans for continuing to support her writing.
- Character drawings inside of book
- Surprisingly, this helped a lot as the characters were introduced. I really appreciated having a face/image already associated with the name as I went along, and found myself referring back to the images often. For those who didn’t know, this was on the inside of the cover of my book :]
- And a closer look at the drawing:
What I Disliked
- Simon & Baz
- Honestly, I cannot tell if this is actually a part that I disliked or not. It bothered me and then it didn’t, and then it bothered me again. I know that a lot of fans of this book (and Carry On) said that it really reads like a gay Harry Potter fanfiction, but I guess I wasn’t expecting it to SO MUCH like Harry Potter that it made me cringe. Honestly, if anything, it is making me second guess whether I want to read Carry On or not. I DID like the little snippets of Simon before each chapter.
- With the exception of Laura, I did like the majority of the characters. I have to agree with Cath on this one though. SPOILER-I don’t think that Laura deserved the time of day. She clearly was still uninterested in the girls with that whole hospital scene, and that honestly makes me so angry. I know that unfortunately there are a lot of parents who feel that their children robbed them of their fun and youth, but it is just despicable behavior, and I hated every moment that she was in/mentioned.
- The ending!
- I hate how it feels like nothing got tied up at the end. SPOILERS It’s great that you know at least that she completed her fiction project, which, if you ask me, Cath was being a little baby about the whole time. But- I would have liked to know that her and Levi made it work during the summer, and that her second year at least started out alright. Idk, some kinda closure would have been nice… I also made the mistake of reading the FAQ section immediately after and got excited when Rowell said that she wasn’t done with the characters yet and that’s why she hasn’t read any of the Fangirl fanfiction… but this came out it 2013, and I would really like to know if there is a sequel in the works or not, because ya girl needs to know what happens next.
I honestly cannot tell if this was something I appreciated or disliked, so I left it out of the points at the top. I am still exploring how I feel about Cath and her Fiction Writing class. SPOILER- I can’t tell if I hated how Cath acted toward the final project or deeply related to it. I mean I can say for sure that I absolutely have done what she did by refusing to do a huge part of your final grade, simply because I didn’t want to. And that bothered me a lot. It bothered me that she acted like a baby about it, but it also bothered me that I saw a lot of myself in her reaction to the assignment. I still don’t know how I feel about this part of the book, but I am proud of her for finishing.
I agree with Rowell though, one of my favorite parts after I finished reading the book was looking at all the fanart of the characters! It is so entertaining and fun to look at the different versions of the characters I love, and mix and match the ones that were closer to what I had in my head :]
Regardless, I was pleasantly surprised by this one! At first the size kind of intimidated me but I literally finished it in a matter of days. It flowed so easily and was absolutely enjoyable. I want to read more of Rowell’s work (with perhaps the exception of Carry On, which I may no longer be able to bring myself to read) in the future. I am glad that I own this one, because I can see it being an easy re-read. I am also really glad that it lived up to the hype. Usually, I go into books that everyone else has read super skeptical, but Rowell certainly delivered a cute, fun story that I am sure to enjoy many times over. It made me miss reading fanfiction, back when I read it so so long ago (I even, in middle school, wrote a little bit of Yu-gi-oh fanfiction), though I doubt I will go back.
What do you guys think? Have you read this before, or any other books by Rainbow Rowell? What was your reactions to my thoughts? Let’s chat :]
Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser