Fangirl (Review)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Released September 10, 2013

433 pages

Borrowed from local public library

Goodreads summary:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

There has been so much hype surrounding this book that it felt like everyone and their mother had read it (well, everyone except for me). I finally decided to give it a try since I had been in a reading slump because of ACOMAF, so I thought I would read a light contemporary to cleanse my system. 

Let me start with Cather’s character, which I honestly enjoyed. I felt that she was real and I was able to relate to so much of her personality. For example, she’s the type of person who doesn’t half-ass relationships; you’re either in her life, or you’re not. Also, she has anxiety and at times it causes her to miss out on situations that she might have enjoyed. Finally, she puts her family before everything else. I respected her and I enjoyed her moments of sass and sarcasm. I also liked seeing her develop as an individual and grow up a little bit, which was ultimately her biggest struggle.

As for the other characters, I think what I liked most about them was how real they felt. They didn’t feel like these completely made up no-way-would-this-person-exist-in-real-life kind of characters (*cough cough* TFIOS, *cough cough* Augustus). Yet, they never felt dull to me. It was the coming together of these realistic individuals that was so fun; their interactions and the way they dealt with one another made the story interesting.

The third biggest element of this story that I enjoyed was the romance. I don’t like to admit this, but I’m a sucker for the sugary sweet slow burn romances. All things considered, I should be the type of person who rolls their eyes in disgust at the cutesy little love moments, but gosh darnit I really do enjoy them. I actually had to release a few happy little sighs while reading this book. So, all in all, I loved the romance.

Now let me move on to my gripes. While I loved the romance, I thought the book was a little boring until it really started developing- which was somewhere around the halfway mark. Also, so much book space is taken up by the Simon-Baz thing which I really was not enjoying. In fact, I skimmed through a good portion of it. The only reason I didn’t skip it entirely was my fear that I would miss something important or relevant to the storyline (which didn’t happen). I like that Rowell was trying to suck us into Cather’s world by giving us pieces of that story, but I just found it so boring and unsatisfying. Also, I somehow kept imagining Simon as Harry Potter and Baz as Draco Malfoy (sorry, not sorry).

Overall, I felt that Fangirl was just okay. It was a cute read, and I did enjoy it. However, for all the hype it got, I was expecting something life changingly amazing. I rarely pick up contemporary novels, and so when I do pick them up I really like them to be emotional and the kind of books that stay with you forever. This just wasn’t it for me.

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A Court of Mist and Fury (Review)

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Released May 3rd, 2016

624 pages

Purchased through Barnes & Noble

Goodreads Summary:

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

I have been waiting for this book since I finished ACOTAR back in May of 2015, and I will be the first to tell you that the whole year of waiting was completely worth it.

Never have I read a book by an author that was able to manipulate my emotions so successfully; everything that Feyre felt, I felt. Her pain, her despair, her fear, her joy-it truly felt like I was experiencing all of these emotions firsthand. I appreciate Maas’ dedication to exploring the emotional and mental states of her characters on such a deep level, and really allowing the reader to connect with them in this way.

One of the many reasons this book has made it to my favorites list is the obvious care that Maas puts into crafting each and every one of her characters. Every single one of the characters, right down to the minor ones, was created with intention. Also, each of the new people we are introduced to in ACOMAF has a personality and a backstory. These characters were not meant to just fade into the background; they are unique individuals, and you cannot help but fall in love with (or hate) each and every one of them. It’s fun to be able to see new characters being introduced to old characters, and old characters being introduced to each other- you can really see the potential relationships starting to form.

Aside from the characters, the setting of this book is incredible. All of the descriptions of the various places Feyre goes are so vivid and beautiful. I honestly wish that a movie of this book would be made, if only just so I can see the setting come to life. If you thought the Spring Court in ACOTAR was lovely, the Night Court in ACOMAF will have you wishing for the ability to teleport yourself into fictional places for sure.

“Maas is so skilled at world building and creating complex plots. For this reason, she is also skilled at blurring the lines between good and evil. You may hate a character in the first half of the book, only to discover that they are completely different from what you originally thought.”

This is a direct quote taken from my old ACOTAR review, and it still most definitely holds true in ACOMAF. I really felt that this book does a good job of testing your ideas of “good” and “evil”. Is someone evil if they have good intentions, but their actions cause other people pain? Is someone evil if they are willing to do evil things to protect someone they care about? Is being cruel justified if it protects lives? These are all questions that I had as I reached the end of A Court of Mist and Fury.

Feyre’s growth and the changes she undergoes throughout the course of this novel make me feel a sense of pride in her character. We as the readers are able to watch a broken young woman piece herself back together and finally create an identity for herself. In the first book, Feyre’s identity  is initially tied to her family and the work she puts in to care for them. As she moved away from that, we could see her starting to shape a new identity for herself. However, by the beginning of ACOMAF, her identity has again become tied to another person: Tamlin. At it’s very heart, this novel is a journey for Feyre as she struggles to find herself again after her traumatic experiences in book 1.

Anyone who is being rude to Sarah J. Maas or other fans based on the relationship choices that Feyre makes clearly missed the entire point of this novel. Any decision that Maas made for Feyre was to allow her to grow and develop, and finally find an authentic voice for herself.

I fell in love with A Court of Thorns and Roses, and now I have fallen even more deeply in love with A Court of Mist and Fury. Pick it up- I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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