“To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.”Rainbow Rowell – Fangirl
Publication Date: January 30, 2014
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Dates Read: June 2-3, 2019
📖 Simon Snow… The whole world knows that name. The whole world is a fan, but Cath is the ultimate fan. She and her twin sister, Wren, have been Simon Snow mega fans since they were kids. They read the books, reread the books, and even write Simon Snow fan fiction. Simon Snow even helped them through their mother leaving them.
Wren has mostly outgrown the fandom, but Cath can’t let it go. They are both off to college now and Wren wants her independence, so Cath is on her own and struggling. She has an interesting semi-mean roommate and her super happy boyfriend that won’t leave her alone, a fiction-writing professor who hates fan fiction, and she can’t stop worrying about her bipolar dad who is now alone for the first time in forever. Cath wonders if she can make it without Wren. Can she start living her own life? Can she write her own original fiction? Can she do any of that if it means she needs to leave Simon Snow behind? 📖
This was a very interesting read. Not only is it quite long for a contemporary, it was almost like reading two stories at once. (I’ll explain in a minute)
I truly did enjoy this read. The characters were complex, and I love digging into deep characterization in books. Cath is the voice and MC of this book. She has social anxiety (while not diagnosed or said in so many words), she is a writer, a loner, a fangirl, and a character that I related a lot to.
Cath starts off the book with this huge anxiety over going to college and her twin sister Wren not wanting to be roommates, and needing space and independence. Cath struggles to step out of her comfort zone and socialize, even with her roommate Reagan who is always around, though isn’t super friendly and has the most happy-go-lucky “boyfriend” on the planet. I say “boyfriend” because Cath only thinks they are dating. This part of the plot did seem obvious to me. 🤷🏻♀️ Levi is actually Reagans ex, and they are still friends.
As the book progresses, she starts making friends, writing for fun, doing great in school, her and Levi get close, and then I felt like Rainbow Rowell forgot about Cath’s anxiety. It was as if Cath’s anxiety just abruptly stopped. This part kind of bugged me. As someone who suffers from mental illness every day, I can tell you that anxiety doesn’t just go away like that. It gets better to manage and handle over time, but it’s still an ongoing battle.
I did like that Rowell added real life important issues into this book; social anxiety, bipolar depression, alcoholism. I didn’t quite like exactly how she executed them but I am glad that those aspects are there. They made the characters deeper, more complex, and more real. The characters are very relatable.
I really liked the slow burn romance aspect of this book. Levi is fantastic, and I love him and Cath together. He truly compliments her so well. He knew how to calm her anxieties, listened when she needed an ear or a shoulder to cry on. I LOVED HIM! He wasn’t the typical love interest which I also really enjoyed. He has a receding hairline, and a soft but muscular body and he isn’t even 6ft. Not every guy in the world looks like a God on Earth and is picture perfect fantasy material, so I liked that. Levi also was a plain good guy–No tragic backstory or issues to deal with. Just an all around stand up guy who loves her.
Reagan was a hilarious force of nature to read. She comes off as rude and standoffish and going into the book, you’d expect her to be the hated character, but she isn’t. She was a really loyal friend to Cath, and a really good friend, despite her harsh tone at times. I also really loved their dad. He was HILARIOUS! He and Cath’s relationship was amazing to see, and
the one liners that they always spit-fired at each other were always fantastic. Her dad’s bipolar depression also had us diving into the complexities of navigating familial relations with mental illness, which was great.
I did not however like the character of Wren. I felt that her “redemption” -so to speak- at the end was not well thought out or convincing. I didn’t like the way she treated Cath. She was selfish and only wanted to live her own life. Then she ends up becoming this alcoholic.. winds up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning, and it should be this big slap in the face moment for her. It kind of(?) is, but she even says she won’t give up drinking. Then Cath automatically forgives her for everything and they are best friends again? That’s not really how life works, and I really wish her dad would have not let her finish school. That would have been good to enact some justice in her story line.
My biggest MEH thing about this book was the Simon Snow excerpts in between chapters. I felt it was super unnecessary and quite boring to be honest. I literally ended up skipping most of them about halfway through the book. I just felt like they were irrelevant to the story. It was like trying to read two books at once, but one is super boring and the timeline jumps around constantly confusing you. I think it would have been just fine to have left those out. There was enough explanation about the main plot of the story, that you get the gist without actually having to read it.
Overall I think this book was a solid read. It did have some things wrong, but it mostly did things right. The writing was great, and for 400+ pages, I flew through it quite quickly. It is a great contemporary and was a really fun book for me.