#18 = Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Image

FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

jacket flap blurb

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? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

thoughts

Rainbow Rowell, I have only read two of your books (Attachments and Fangirl) but I have adored both of them. I will forgive your ridiculous first name (I will admit, I did hesitate to read a book by Rainbow somebody. But I’m glad I did).

I’m not sure there’s much to say about this book. The characters are fantastic. Cath (short for Cather), Wren, their father, Levi (Levi), Reagan, Professor Piper, Jandro (short for Alejandro), Laura, and even Nick. Oh, and, of course, Baz and Simon. They all felt so real. And the writing was gorgeous. It was funny sometimes and serious sometimes and always engaging.

But there’s only so long you can write about how great something is before you dissolve into a puddle of loving adjectives. So I’ll skip to the one thing I didn’t like. I didn’t like not knowing whether Cath finished Carry On before the eighth Simon Snow book came out or not. Maybe I just missed it, or something, but I don’t think it was said.

And perhaps that was intended to be meaningful, a show of Cath putting real Levi before fictional Baz and Simon. But I completely understood why Cath felt she needed to finish Carry On (her fanfiction novel of the eighth book) before book eight came out. I totally got that part about if book eight came out first, it wouldn’t be the same. Cath’s say wouldn’t matter. The real author of the Simon Snow books would close the cover, roll the credits, end the story. No more imagining what might happen, because all the lines have been said, all the plot threads tied off.

And yeah, you can keep imagining what could have happened (plenty of people do with Harry Potter), but it’s not the same. Someone, it’s not as real of a story after the real author cuts in and says no, this is what happens. This is canon.

So I really wanted to know if Cath finished Carry On before the deadline. Yes, we got our, does the author see Baz as Cath and so many others see Baz? Or is she going to close his story with so much of him unfulfilled, unwritten? moment where Baz switches sides. And yes, that was part of Cath’s fear of what the real author would say in the final book and how it would compare to what she so desperately hoped would happen, but still. I would have liked to know.

But other that that one thing, it was brilliant. All the relationships were fantastically written and well thought out. I loved how no, Cath was not forced into reuniting with her mother in a painfully wishful, sappy scene. I loved her relationship with her sister, Wren, with Levi, with her father, with Reagan, with Nick. I loved everything about Cath, really. As a writer (though not of fanfiction) with social anxiety, I really connected. I loved how she kept wanting to say no to Professor Piper, but just couldn’t do it because she got so nervous. The social anxiety was done marvelously (you see what I mean about puddle of loving adjectives?), and the plot felt very realistic. Very…human, I guess.

rating out of five stars

★★★★★

is it worth reading?

Yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes.

want to read it for yourself?

Buy at Amazon Buy at Powell’s
Advertisements

#12 = Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Image

ATTACHMENTS a novel by Rainbow Rowell

jacket flap blurb

A strikingly clever and deeply moving story about falling in love with the person who makes you feel like the best version of yourself. Even if it’s someone you’ve never met.

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder, coworkers at the Courier, know the newspaper monitors their office e-mail. But they still spend all day sending each other messages, gossiping about their coworkers, and baring their personal lives like an open book. Jennifer tells Beth everything she can’t seem to tell her husband about her anxieties over starting a family. And Beth tells Jennifer everything, period.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill still can’t believe that it’s his job to monitor other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be an Internet security officer, he pictured himself protecting the newspaper from dangerous hackers—not sending out memos every time somebody in Accounting forwarded an off-color joke to the person in the next cubicle.

Lincoln is supposed to turn people in for misusing company e-mail, but he can’t quite bring himself to crack down on Beth and Jennifer. He can’t help being entertained—and captivated—by their stories. But by the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late for him to ever introduce himself. What would he say to her? “Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you”?

With snapping dialogue and irresistible charm, Rainbow Rowell transforms and ordinary IT guy into a lovable and endearing romantic hero and proves that falling in love never happens the way you plan it. Written with whip-smart precision and charm, Attachments is a fresh and energetic debut that marks the arrival of an exciting new voice in fiction.

thoughts

I don’t normally read books about adults. They tend to be kind of…thick. Not dense, but thick. And slower, too. Like YA is fast so teens don’t get bored by for some reason the people who write adult fiction think if you’re grown-up, you have all the time in the world to spend dilly-dallying your way through one of their novels.

But anyway. This book was not thick. At all. It was tense and wonderful, with a host of realistic, quirky characters and witty narration and unexpected twists. And even though it’s a romance from chapter one (from the jacket-flap, actually), you can’t say for certain that they’re going to end up together. Right up until the very end, I was guessing. I was wondering, is this going to be one of those bittersweet we-were-almost-together-but-we-ended-up-with-different-people books?

And sometimes I was thinking, this is all going to work out for them somehow. And other times I was convinced it was never going to happen between and there was no possible way for it to work out to be a happy ending. But it did. And it was wonderful and surprising and believable.

As for the characters, there are a quite a lot of them. There’s Lincoln, of course. And then there’s the friends Beth and Jennifer, and Beth’s boyfriend Chris and Jennifer’s husband Mitch. There’s Lincoln’s mom, his sister Eve (and her husband Jake), his Dungeons & Dragons friends—the main ones being Christine and Dave—his friend Justin, and his boss Greg. And then there’s his other friend, Doris. And Eve has two kids. And Justin ends up with a girlfriend. And there’s this girl Emilie who’s hitting on Lincoln. Oh, and Sam, Lincoln’s ex-girlfriend from high school. And I think that’s it.

But this isn’t exactly an action movie-style book, where a cast of like three and the bad guys are going to cut it. I never found myself confused over who was who, or trying to place where we heard a certain name before. So even though it seems like a lot of characters, it works really well, and they all add something to the story and the plot. And that’s really the question: would something be lost if you took _____ out? And yes, something would be lot if any of the characters were cut or combined.

But it’s not perfect. It’s almost perfect. It’s close enough to go on my wish list. But it could be better. For one thing, chapter 87 and the last bit of chapter 86 seem rushed and wrap-up-y, like knots are being tied off. And that sort of writing makes the momentum take an immediate downward leap. Right off a cliff. A cliff with no bottom, no resolution, no ending to the nebulous limbo of dulled interest. There was chapter I had to go back and re-read twice because I kept skimming it.

I only had one other issue with the book, and that what Lincoln looked like. He’s tall and muscular. But until like halfway through the book, I was picturing him as Mr. Ordinary. Someone you could pass on the street and not notice. In fact, when Beth started describing one of their encounters in one of her emails to Jennifer, I had to double-check the original scene to make sure it was actually him she was referencing. Just some mention of how tall he was compared to Sam earlier would be nice. We have something about that, when Lincoln’s thinking about what it would be like to hug Beth and then comparing it to hugging Sam. But that’s practically at the end of the book. Something in the first quarter would be good.

But overall, I left the book feeling good. But I also left the book feeling like if chapter 87 had been drawn out into multiple chapters, the momentum from Lincoln’s quitting, and the suspense of not knowing if this is it for him and Beth, would have carried longer and it wouldn’t have felt like the end before the end actually happened. Especially since the end was so incredibly fantastic.

rating out of five stars

★★★★★

is it worth reading?

Hell yes. It’s worth buying.

want to read it for yourself?

Buy at Amazon Buy at Powell’s