Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Size: 448 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Audiobook from Audible.com
Rating: 5/5 stars
I have had this book on my to read list forever. Previous to reading this book the only book I had read by Rowell was Landline, which I enjoyed but didn’t love. This was an incredibly engaging read and something that I think a lot of readers/writers will definitely adore. This is basically a coming of age story that is sweet and deals with a lot of life issues.
I listened to this on audiobook and the audiobook was very well done. I thought the narrator did an excellent job with conveying emotion and having distinct character voices. I would definitely recommend this on audiobook if you are a fan of audiobooks.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan (well Simon Snow is really really popular, so a lot of people are fans). It would be more accurate to say that Cath is absolutely obsessed with Simon Snow. She spends a large amount of time writing fanfic that takes place in the Simon Snow world. Her twin sister Wren has grown out of fanfic and is ready to move on with her life. Both sisteres are both going to the same college but Wren decides to get a new roommate and start a new life without Cath.
Cath would love to just hide in her dorm, she has huge anxiety about anything new. She ends up with a grouchy roommate who constantly has her boyfriend around. Things get worse when she finds out her fiction writing professor absolutely hates fanfiction. To add to all of this her manic depressive father is having trouble coping with living alone and she has to finish the eighth book in her alternate Simon Snow series, Carry On, before the final book in the real series actually releases. How will Cath make it through?
The book starts each chapter with either an excerpt from the original Simon Snow series or an excerpt from Cath’s Simon Snow fanfic Carry On. So you are kind of following three stories throughout the book; the Simon Snow series, Cath’s story Carry On, and Cath’s day to day story. It was cleverly done.
This is definitely a coming of age story that touches on a lot of interesting issues. There is a lot in here about fanfiction and about the stresses of interacting with both internet and real-life communities. Additionally a lot of the characters are struggling with social/mental disorders. Cath has extreme anxiety about anything new. Wren has a bit of a drinking problem. Cath and Wren’s father struggles with bipolar disorder. Levi (Cath’s roommate’s boyfriend) has a learning disability that makes reading very tough for him. All of these characters with their issues and quirky disorders make for characters that are intriguing and very real feeling.
I loved Cath and could definitely relate to her. She would rather read or write than do anything else (yep, that describes me), she has a lot of anxiety about new situations (yep, I am with her there), and she would rather write fanfic than deal with real issues (again…I definitely spend time blogging that could be better spent elsewhere). So I really related to her and enjoyed watching her learn to deal with situations that I have also struggled with over the years.
The story is very engaging and absolutely engrossing. You are constantly wondering what will happen between Wren and Cath, what will happen with Cath’s final fiction story, what will happen in Cath’s fanfic Carry On, what will happen between Cath and Levi, what will happen with Cath’s father…. There is a lot to drive the story forward. It is also a very emotion-provoking story; there were parts where I laughed and parts where I cried (seriously one of these was when Cath and Wren are crying over the final book of the Simon Snow series…yes I can totally relate to this).
Overall I loved this book. The characters felt incredibly real, were entertaining, and engaging. This is a coming of age story that deals with a lot of social issues. I could really relate to Cath and really enjoyed reading about her. My only complaint is that the story ends very abruptly. I would recommend to those who enjoy contemporary YA fiction, especially those who read or write a lot themselves.