Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fangirl (by Rainbow Rowell)

Disclaimer: I am a fangirl of Rainbow Rowell. I follow her on Twitter, and she is delightful. Second disclaimer: a large part of this book revolves around the world of fanfiction, and I read Sherlock fanfiction. So perhaps that added a layer of delightfulness for me that others might not appreciate as much.

The story revolves around Cath, a freshman in college who is a very popular fanfic writer who writes about the "Simon Snow" series, a fictionalized version of the Harry Potter series. (The pairing she writes is essentially Sherlock/John Harry/Draco.) I loved all the inside baseball fanfic stuff (like a 5+1 story!) and the snippets of fanfiction vs. the actual Simon Snow novels felt persuasively real. (The only thing that threw me off was a Harry Potter reference. This world doesn't work at all if Harry Potter actually exists, since if that were the case, the writer of Simon Snow would be sued by J.K. Rowling for copyright infringement.)

As with Eleanor and Park, the protagonist in this novel has real problems: Cath has a twin sister who is drifting apart from her and a mother who abandoned them both when they were kids, as well as a mentally ill father. (I hated the mother the appropriate amount; at points I hated Wren I think slightly more than I was supposed to.) Cath is introverted and insecure without being unrealistic, and her character arc makes sense. She's a great character.

For fans of YA, whether or not you're into fanfic, I would recommend this. I still say start with Eleanor and Park if you haven't read it yet, but Fangirl is an awesome follow-up.


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Other Side of the Story and Watermelon (by Marian Keyes)

Obviously I'm still on a Keyes kick, though I'm saving Lucy Sullivan and Rachel's Holiday for my beach vacation in October.

The Other Side of the Story is three intertwined stories loosely set in the world of publishing. Two of the stories are told first-person and one is third (which is somewhat disorienting) but I enjoyed all three stories, especially I think Lily's. The letter at the end was amazing. Probably Jojo was my second favorite, and I really enjoyed the resolution to hers. And Gemma, although I still enjoyed her, was my least favorite, mainly because I did not enjoy her mother's storyline very much. Gemma herself, though, I liked. So far my favorite Keyes!

Watermelon is interesting, because the narrator has this penchant for witty/silly metaphor that isn't really in Keyes's other books so far, which made me really appreciate that Keyes gave this specific woman a specific narrative style and voice. I also mostly liked Claire, although there was a bit too much fatphobic stuff happening where she kept talking about being fat, and her post-pregnancy body as being ugly, and all that business. Also, at one point I had to skip ahead because I couldn't handle where her mind was at. (Of course it is resolved in the end, but I needed to know how long I would have to wait for sanity to return.)

Overall I enjoyed these books just as much as Sushi! I would probably rank them 1. Other Side, 2. Sushi, 3. Watermelon, but I liked them all, and thanks for the recommendations! Can't wait to get to the beach.