Goodreads synopsis: 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?
This was my first Rainbow Rowell book, and I’ll admit, I expected to hate it. I thought it was going to be a whiny introvert who thinks she’s better than everyone else because she doesn’t get drunk every weekend and likes to write and blah blah, but Cath isn’t like that at all. She never looks down on Wren for drinking and partying, although she does worry about her a lot, and rightfully so. I see a lot of my 18-year-old self in Cath, actually. Like, a lot. I was also an English major, and I spent a lot of time in my first year of college reading and writing fanfiction (mostly Sherlock, how embarrassing). And I spent a lot of time in my second year of college feeling really guilty about being there because I thought I should be home to take care of my family. So yeah, I really felt for Cath. I also really liked her whole issue with Nick, because I thought he was going to be the love interest but he turned out to be a jerk in a really interesting way.
Plus, Rainbow Rowell is just a really f**king good writer. I wrote down a couple of lines in my notebook because she just said some really amazing things in really amazing ways. So, for that reason, I plan to try more of her books very soon. (Unfortunately the library was closed fo maintenance today.) I think my favorite line was, “Talking to Reagan was like standing in front of an oncoming train.” There was just such incredible imagery in every chapter that really made the story come alive, and I think that was really necessary because honestly, the actual storyline is not that interesting. I thought the most interesting part was Wren’s hospital visit. Other than that, it was just Cath’s little life, which was engaging because of her character and the writing, but not because of the story. I never felt like I needed to tear through this book to find out what happens at the end. It wasn’t suspenseful. It was just a piece of someone’s life. But often, that’s good, because we’re all just living pieces of our own lives, so it’s normal and relatable.
The only two things that bothered me about this book were 1. the fact that everyone had weird names, and 2. Cath’s relationship with Levi. I just didn’t buy the idea of him being interested in her. I felt like their semi-friendship through Reagan early on felt very natural, but the actual dating felt forced. I feel like he would have found her to be ultimately boring, but people are surprising all the time, so whatever. I guess because of that I really didn’t care about their relationship because I can’t imagine it lasting. I mostly just cared about Cath and her sister and their dad. Oh, and I also didn’t like the ending. It stopped really suddenly, and I was so confused. Did she finish her version of the last Simon Snow book in time? Did she actually write about her mom for her short story? Are they just never going to talk to their mom again? Is Cath going to take the next advanced fiction course? So many questions, but I guess that shows that I cared about the characters. Overall, I very much enjoyed this book. It was refreshing to read about someone in college rather than in high school. I would recommend it to YA readers looking for something just a little bit different.