by Rowell, Rainbow

Feeling cast off when her best friend outgrows their shared love for a favorite celebrity, Cath, a dedicated fan-fiction writer, struggles to survive on her own in her first year of college while avoiding a surly roommate, bonding with a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words and worrying about her fragile father. By the author of Eleanor & Park.

RAINBOW ROWELL lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband and two sons. She's also the author of Landline, Eleanor & Park and Attachments.

*Starred Review* Much of the literary fandoms we see are dominated by bookish girls writing and posting online fan fiction, often romantic in nature and frequently featuring gay, nontraditional relationships. But this is Cath's world. Her fandom is the Simon Snow series. Simon is a Harry Potter-like figure who battles vampires and the Humdrum, a creature bent on ridding the world of magic. Devotees by the thousands read Cath's two-year-long opus "Carry On," a piece she's determined to complete before the release of the final installment of the series. However, life has intervened: she's starting college with her twin sister, Wren, who has demanded separate dorm rooms so they could both "meet new people." An awakening unfolds, as Cath battles loneliness, her father's mental illness, a new writing class, and feelings for her dorm mate's friendly part-time boyfriend. This is an epic writ small; the magic here is cast not with wands but with Rowell's incredible ability to build complex, vivid, troubling, and triumphant relationships. The internal lives of the characters are so well developed that it is almost surprising to remember that Rowell is writing in third person. Fans of Eleanor & Park (2013) and other novels about, nerdy types will thrill at finding such a fantastic and lasting depiction of one of their own. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

With an unflinching voice, Cath navigates the lonely road of her freshman year at college, untethered from her gregarious twin sister's orbit and unsure whether her wild popularity as an author of fan fiction makes her more-or less-of a "real" writer. The novel's brilliance comes from Rowell's reimagining of a coming-of-age story's stock characters (the reclusive writer, the tough-talking friend, the sweet potential boyfriend) as dynamic and temperamental individuals-which adroitly parallels Cath's own fan-fiction writing process. Rowell challenges readers to love characters who are loyal, vulnerable and funny-but also realistically flawed. Cath's gruff exterior protects her easily wounded and quite self-conscious heart, but her anger is sometimes unreasonable. Roommate Reagan is a fiercely loyal friend but an unfaithful girlfriend; Cath's crush, Levi, has a receding hairline rather than the artificial movie-star perfection bestowed upon the brows of so many romantic heroes. The nuanced characters help the novel avoid didacticism as it explores the creative process and the concept of creative "ownership." Though Cath's Harry Potter–esque fan fiction (excerpts of which are deftly woven into the novel) has a devoted following of more than 35,000 readers, a professor deems the stories plagiarism and stealing because, "These characters, this whole world belongs to someone else." Cath's struggles to assess this conclusion's validity give readers much to consider. Absolutely captivating. (Fiction 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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