This felt a lot like that awkward first date. You know, the one with the guy who you have a lot in common with, even and especially the weird bits, and it should really be a blast but the enormity of the word "date" is the third wheel at the table.
The third wheel in this case is the overwhelming love for this book.
And this has happens every once in a while, getting initiated into an author's vernacular is not always a smooth process. There's always some discomfort in the early pages trying to figure out: is that her being funny? Am I supposed to like this girl now or later? Should I focus on the little details or look at the bigger picture? And I had those reading cramps at the beginning of Fangirl, I eventually did get what this book was trying to be (right around the Emergency Kanye Party) but I think I was expecting a different kind of book with a different kind of delivery.
I just read 4 to 16 Characters a few months back and it did have some striking similarities with this one: Socially awkward fanfiction writer with mommy issues figuring out how to have these worlds co-exist with each other. Except this had an elegance in its writing, less in-your-face, more reined in and controlled. Apart form illustrating well the birthing process involved in writing (which was quite fascinating), this also paid better attention to realism, in finding that backdoor heartstring to tug and connect with the characters. Discussing issues that are pertinent to that period in everyone's life. I mean who dissects the mechanics of an introvert girl coming to terms with having a relationship with an older guy? The idea of a guy who has kissed and slept with someone else before me? That's a very particular and specific lesson in life, I'm not sure the birds and the bees talk covers and automatically grants the emotional maturity to grasp that one. Oh and this
"I don't fit in. I don't know how to be. Nothing that I'm good at is the sort of thing that matters here. Being smart doesn't matter - and being good with words. And when those things do matter, its only because people want something from me. Not because they want me."
Mild overshare behind the
The characters were well-fleshed out and nobody pissed me off. Everyone acted the way they were supposed to act, said the right words, lost their tempers in the proper time and venues. I was very taken by the dynamics between Cath, Wren and their dad. The friction and tension was there but it was subtle, I liked that the hysterics were kept to a minimum and rational thinking ruled most of the time. Cath felt a lot like a string drawn taut the entire way through, like a teenager on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There was that one moment where she explains her need to worry because it prevents the worse from happening.
I support and practice this philosophy.
I also adhere to the philosophy that Biblical names are ALWAYS HOT. Take note authors. You know what else is hot? Quirky heroes. Levi of the thousand smiles, pornographic eyebrows and forty-acre forehead. I'm kinda wishing someone would do the fantasy casting of these characters, I wanna see someone interpret Levi and his hairline with a half-naked beefcake.
FWIW, Levi is totally a blonde Luke Perry (I blame Leah).
This should have totally been a ME book. I was a total Harry Potter fangirl for chrissakes (sidetone: the fact that Harry Potter ALSO exists in this universe with Simon Snow is making me uncomfortable. Because it comes across like a backhanded Simon Snow > Harry Potter message. And I'm not okay with that.) I mark each book's release beyond Order of the Phoenix with relationship milestones (good and bad). I survived the GOF-OOTP drought by reading a shitload of fanfictions (After the Endate my life for a year).
But that facet of Cath's character was my least favorite, unfortunately. It all just cuts too close to The Draco Trilogy lore and it made me uncomfortable knowing the author of THAT fanfiction and how that panned out (relative to how THIS ended). So whenever it comes up in the story, I let my mind wander aimlessly until the perspective goes back to Cath's reality. This is one of those things that probably won't bother anyone BUT ME.
I will have to concede that Rainbow Rowell did a great layered writing job of writing Cath's story, Simon Snow and Cath's fanfictions. They were distinct and had different pulses between them. The fanfictions especially… they read like fanfics. It was distracting to read them in between chapters but the tropes, the turns of phrases… you know it's fanfiction. It was brilliant.
While the beginning was sluggish, the end just felt like someone called time and everything has to wrap up in twenty pages. There was even a meta-discussion between Cath and Wren about happy endings and I was okay with that as an excuse/explanation. It's just that everything felt like its about to fall apart right before the author pulled the plug. Wren and Reagan's character voice was starting to melt into one, I've started to look for the dad and Levi was starting to lose some of his charm. I'm glad she stopped it before the entire thing collapses… I just wish she stopped before I got to peek on all those flaws.
I am definitely glad I got this book, not so sure if this would be a good Rainbow Rowell entry level read. She breathes a certain kind of soul to her characters gifting them a distinct heartbeat that you've heard before but not quite with the same rhythm.
It kinda makes you want to listen for more. In less awkward circumstances.