While I don’t have the time that I’d need right now to post a full review of this book, I wanted to share some of my post-reading thoughts.
I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this story–due largely, I think, to its characters. While the setting is average (freshman year of college in Nebraska) and the plot relatively relaxed, the very real, down-to-earth characters are what drives the story. Aside from that of the two main characters (Cather and Wren–by the way, say their names one after the other slowly. It took me a second to get it), there actually isn’t much character development. However, that doesn’t make the rest of the characters any less real. I empathized with Cather, my heart warms to Levi, I’m intrigued by and secretly want to be friends with Reagan, I roll my eyes and dismiss Courtenay…all in the context of dorm life. I felt/feel as though I got to know these characters throughout their experiences of getting to know each other, so that towards the end of the book I felt very reluctant to say goodbye.
One other thing: I read some opinions that this book would have been more successful had it developed the fandom aspect more deeply. Personally, I think that the book captures the spirit of fandom and its loyalty (with which I am partially familiar given my teeny-bopper days of writing boy band fanfiction. Cather’s recollection of the different directions of “Simon Snow” fanfiction, her drive to finish her story before the last book is published, her and Wren’s references to the online fandom, etc. are all details that painted a clear picture of what it means to belong to a hardcore, passion-driven, internet-based fangroup. There is one scene in particular, during which (DON’T WORRY, no spoilers!) Cather meets a fan of her (Cather) fanfiction and they gush together over the details of “Simon Snow etc,” which felt so intimate and real.
I’d highly recommend this book. While it doesn’t take itself too seriously, at the same time it does balance humour with some heavy concepts and a sprinkling of good ol’ thematic substance (sister-sister relationships, family relationships, discovering/developing self-confidence, discovering/appreciating one’s talents & abilities, etc.).