First Lines: There was a boy in her room. Cath looked up at the number painted on the door, then down at the room assignment in her hand. Pound Hall, 913. This was definitely room 913, but maybe it wasn’t Pound Hall — all these dormitories looked alike, like public housing towers for the elderly.
With this book, I was cautious yet optimistic. I mean, Rainbow Rowell gets as much attention these days as John Green does, but I didn’t like Eleanor and Park. Still, I was willing to give her a chance here.
Cath is a Simon Snow fan, but it’s more than just something she likes. It’s her life, so much so that she writes fanfictions about the Simon Snow book series. And she’s good at it. Writing is what helped her and her twin sister get through their mother leaving when they were kids. Cath’s sister, Wren, has mostly outgrown it, but Cath is still obsessed. And now, Cath has to face college. Alone. Because Wren doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath gets a surly roommate with an ever-charming boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who think fanfiction is the devil, a classmate who only want to talk to her about words, and worries about a dad who may or may not be able to handle his suddenly empty nest back home. Can Cath do this without Wren there every step of the way?
First of all, I just want to get it out of the way that there is a lot of very strong language in this book. It’s set in college, so it has a lot more language than a high school book. The most common curse (in my opinion) was the F-bomb. Just so you’re aware, if this bothers you.
Alright. So I’m just going to ‘fess up that I loved this book. To infinity and beyond. I actually reread most of it immediately after finishing…and you have no idea how much I’m itching to do it again. I’m not kidding. This is insane, even for me, but I can’t separate myself from them! And I have a very good reason why.
See, Cath is nearly my facsimile, almost down to the last detail. (Not the first few chapters though. In those, she is very much like my freshman roommate, who was the bane of my existence. *shudders against bad memories*) But after that, she’s me. I mean, I’ve written fanfics before. (Really really bad ones when I was in high school. My writing has since improved greatly.) And I’m introverted, like Cath, so I tended to spend a lot of time in my dorm room when I didn’t have anywhere else to be, like Cath. There is too much for me to list off. And many of her experiences were mine too. Maybe I’ll get to that later.
Well, I’ve already told you about my girl crush on Cath, so let’s move on. As you can probably divine, the fanfic aspect of the story is kind of huge to the plot. The book is littered with “quotes” from the original Simon Snow books, plus excerpts from Cath’s writing. Cath’s a great writer, so that wasn’t hard to get through at all. The only issues I can see with it is that it took away from Cath’s plot and it sometimes took a while to shift gears from Cath’s world to Simon’s. But I didn’t have an issue with it.
Simon Snow is pretty much a rip-off of Harry Potter, with some very obvious changes. I mean, a global phenomena in a magical boarding school? Please. That has HP written all over it. But I was ok with it because it made it easier to relate to Cath. My fanfics were HP fanfics, so I understood what would drive someone to write those.
I liked that the story was so much more than just college. Cath is dealing with some really heavy family issues as the same time. Her sister, her dad, her mom. They all add levels to Cath that wouldn’t have happened if we just focused on her time at college. I liked that we saw every part of Cath’s life.
But my favorite part of this story, bar none, was the love story because it’s so understated. I didn’t even realize I was swooning until I was too far gone. Like boiling the proverbial frog. Things started small and were never made into a big deal. God, it felt so real! There was none of the corny love at first sight, fireworks when they kiss cliches. It felt like a real relationship. And Cath is still new to the whole dating thing, which was something I could relate to too. Like Cath, I was really skittish with my first serious college boyfriend. Just…when a writer who’s never met me can put my own quirks and experiences onto paper like that, I don’t want to let it go.
For me, having just finished off my college years, this brought back a number of good and a few bad memories of my time in college. But that’s life, right? Sigh. This was a beautiful book. And I’m going to try very hard not to reread this for a third time in 48 hours.