Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Length: 445 pages
A coming-of-age tale of fanfiction, 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 fanfiction, 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 that 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 fanfiction 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? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Protagonist: Cath is an avid Simon Snow fan. She loves delving into the world whether it be by reading the books, watching the movies, or writing her own fanfiction. Cath was a very relateable character, and one I think would be relateable to a lot of book lovers who like the get engrossed in a fandom. Cath is introverted, a direct opposite to her twin sister Wren. I loved the relationship between Wren and Cath, even though it was a bit strained throughout the book, it felt real. Siblings, even twins, don't get along all the time and it was so interesting to see how the affected one another. Cath is a fantastic character who it was so easy to get into the mindset of, even though she's flawed and did things I would never do in a thousand years, I always understood why she did it.
Romance: Honestly I was expecting the majority of this book to involve the romance in some way, and I guess it still is a pretty main theme, but for a rather large chunk of the book the romance wasn't a factor. There was what I thought would have turned into a love triangle being more a realistic view on how romance and relationships go. Levi is Cath's main love interest and while they have an electric relationship at first, Cath didn't like Levi, but they soon become friends and the chemistry dies down a bit, but not in a bad way, it just becomes more real. Their romance is full of twists and turns, mistakes and flaws but it's how they work through them that I enjoyed. This romance wasn't something that was chaotic and messy, or something where it felt like the author invented drama to keep it compelling, no, it was just real and magnificent.
World-Building: So there are sort of two worlds in this book, the real world and the world of Simon Snow. In between the chapters are little excerpts from something dealing with the world of mages, whether it's an excerpt from a book or one of Cath's fanfics. I sort of had a love hate relationship with these excerpts, I loved them because they added to the story and helped show why Cath loved these books, I hated them because the Simon Snow books aren't real and I want them to be so badly. In fact, it's funny, sometime during chapter twelve Cath and Levi talk about a huge twist in the series and for about five whole seconds I was so pissed that I had been spoiled before realizing that it wasn't like I was ever going to be able to read the books. Simon Snow is a bit like Harry Potter, its about a boy who attends a school of magic, has a super-smart female best friend, and a dark nemesis who a lot of people apparently ship him with. But it's not Harry Potter, at least not from what I could tell. It had it's own mythology, it's own twists and turns that HP didn't and I just realized how weird it is defending a non-existent series. Anyway, about the real world setting this book takes place in, it's so multi-layered or at least the plot of the story is. There are so many facets to Cath's life, relationships platonic, familial, and romantic that all play a large part in the story. For me this book was fairly slow paced, but not in a negative way, just the opposite really, it felt like a book I could really sink my teeth into and savor, instead of zooming through a fast paced storyline.
Predictability: I honestly can't tell you how predictable this book is. I've tries writing this section many times, but realistically there aren't really any twists in it, or at least none in the traditional sense. I always had a sense as to where certain aspects were going based on just common knowledge about how typical YA books go, not to say that this book is typical, but nothing ever surprised me, but nothing was ever boring either. This book never dragged or sped up but just sort of chugged along at a semi-brisk pace.
Ending: If I had to point out one thing I had a problem with in this book it would have been the ending. Not that the ending wasn't great, it was more that I had expected more of it. It's not like I wanted all that much more either, just one more chapter, most if not all the loose ends were tied up, but ending it where it did just felt a bit too sudden. It was like if an author stopped writing after the final climax, sure all the things are tied up, but there isn't that buffer to ease you out of the story. I liked the ending I really did, it sent a great message and showed enough that I could sort of tell where the story might go, I just needed a bit more.
Despite the fact that this book ended a bit too suddenly I'm still giving it five stars. It was just so jam-packed full of awesomeness that even a lukewarm ending couldn't touch it. This book has some sort of siren song in it as well, as I was listening to the audiobook, all I wanted to do, besides continue the story that is, was to write. I think I've written more between reading this book than I have in the past six months.