Cath wants to be a writer, but she doesn’t want to write just anything. You see, Cath is a Simon Snow (this fictional world’s version of Harry Potter) fan. She might even be the biggest Simon Snow fan there is. She spends most of her time writing fan fiction about Simon and his nemesis, Baz, and it’s the only thing she loves to do, but she can’t do it forever and she’s not sure she’s up to the task of writing anything else. With an overwhelming life of new people, a new setting, and new classes, Cath isn’t sure college life is for her.
This is actually a re-read for me. I first read the print version in December 2015. By January of this year, I missed Cath, Levi, Reagan, and even Wren so much that I just had to read it again. I needed a new audiobook for work and gym listening, and I decided to dive into the audio version of this, which was an excellent choice. The narrator, Rebecca Lowman, brought out Rowell’s world wonderfully, and even though I had already read it, I was impatient to hear her read what came next. Also, as a bonus, Maxwell Caulfield (Rex Manning!) narrates the Simon Snow bits to perfection.
I had read Eleanor & Park a couple of years back and I really liked it, but I don’t think I loved it near as much as everyone else seemed to. When I originally saw the premise for this one, I didn’t really think it sounded like my cup of tea but I really wanted to read Carry On (a semi-sequel to Fangirl) and I can’t read books out of order, I’m weird like that. Anyways. I’m so glad I read this because Rowell just has a knack for writing flawed and relatable characters. I felt such a connection to Cath, especially with her social anxieties, and I just wanted good things for her! And Levi. Oh, Levi. On the fictional romantic lead swoon scale, he’s in the Mr. Darcy range. He’s just the cutest. But this is so much more than a love story, it’s about her Dad and his tight rope walk with bipolar disorder (a guess on my part – it’s never specified, but seems to fit), her Mom leaving the family and then showing up suddenly ten years later, about her changing relationship with her sister, and her sister’s growing alcohol problem. If it sounds melodramatic, it’s not. As Cath tells Wren at one point “this isn’t melodrama, this is actual drama!” It’s engrossing without being soapy, and Rowell’s writing talent really cannot be overemphasized. In short, I love it, and I can’t wait to read it again and again in the years to come and I highly recommend it.