A book about a fangirl fanfiction writer not wanting to engage in the real world? Yep, I should probably read that. It’s by Rainbow Rowell, who also wrote Eleanor and Park that I read recently. They are very YA.
Cath is a lifelong fangirl. She and her twin, Wren, were obsessed with Simon Snow, (a Harry Potter rip off/mockery) with Cath writing the most popular “Eighth year” fanfiction. When they go off to college, Wren decides she wants nothing more to do with Simon Snow, declares she is growing up. Cath, however, is quite happy in the fictional romance she has created, and is quite anxious about having to engage with the real world. But maybe in the first year of college, she’ll learn about friendships without her twin, and more about love than she was previously aware of. She will also learn about the line between fanfiction and fiction writing and how to balance the real with the fictional.
Cath has anxiety. The twins dad has bipolar and Wren is desperate to fit into every student stereotype going. Regan is Cath’s bolshy older roommate, who forces Cath to engage with the real world, even if it’s just as far as mocking people in the canteen. Regan’s often accompanied by Levi, the agricultural major best friend/boyfriend, who is kind, a little bit adorable, and doesn’t mock her fanfiction. (He’s also Regan’s bf, so off limits). There is super slimy Nick and their standing library writing sessions. And awesome Professor Piper, the lecturer who runs the fiction writing class.
Cath lives in a world entirely of fanfiction and Simon Snow and is crazy popular on the internet but incredibly wary about the real world. She worries about everything and has trouble with prioritisation and writers block. She also isn’t talking to Wren for most of the book because where Cath clings to fanfiction as something safe, Wren rejects everything that she used to be to “reinvent” herself for college. I like Regan. Regan is very blunt, very honest and because of that she feels like the best kind of friend. Levi is very sweet, but obsessed with buffalo. Nick is annoying, and very suave and therefore untrustworthy.
The only lgbtq characters are the fictional ones from the Simon Snow story of Simon and Baz – the equivalent of Drarry from Harry Potter. Cath is kinda torn between two guys, but that gets resolved pretty quick and then the question becomes “do I want to have sex with him”. This question was actually done quite well in my opinion, no rushing into things, no pressure ect.
I mean, it was a good book. As a fangirl, it was interesting to have a book dedicated to fandom and trying to navigate the real world without abandoning the fictional one and I did enjoy it. The relationship was entirely predictable. Relationships are one of the key themes of this book. Relationships between siblings, between parent/child, between friends, romantic relationships and learning how to navigate relationships.
There were also little snippets from the Simon Shaw books, and from Cath’s Simon Shaw fanfiction between each chapter, which was a nice touch.
I did enjoy this, again, good not earth-shattering and it was very YA, but one of the nice things about it is that Cath doesn’t suddenly go from being a geeky introvert to awesomely cool and extroverted which is infinitely more realistic. I’s give this a 3.5, because while I did enjoy it, it did have some problems. Cath can get annoying, Wren is definitely annoying. And some good bits. See above. Yeah. Good, not great, planning on putting it back on the bookshelf at work. I did prefer this one to Eleanor and Park, but that may just be because it’s about fanfiction.