Book Review – Fangirl and Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell

fangirlCath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair anymore – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.

Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally 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.

Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s learning that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible.

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My rating:  Cyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starNo-Star

Okay so I loved rereading this by listening to the audio book! I forgot how lovely this book is, especially after Cath and Levi start dancing around each other. And yes, I said that, the girl who doesn’t like romance stories loves this one. Ha.

I think my love for this book is much like many people’s. It’s hard to be in fandom (as many people who will read this are!) and not feel an affinity for some of the things in this book. Especially as it covers a couple of things not widely discussed in the other contemporary fandom themed books. And it does read as a love letter to fandom in a way, but really this book isn’t about that. It’s about Cath, college, boys, family and mental health.

So I’m going to start with the things I don’t love about it, as it’s a shorter list. I don’t love that Cath has no friends. She mentions friends back home but doesn’t talk to any. She makes no real school friends, and doesn’t mention online friends. At a minimum she would have the latter, where anxiety and “weirdness” don’t matter as much. I’ve been in that community, it’s almost impossible not to make connections. Even when she discusses her beta reader, it’s in a disconnected way. That really jarred me this time round, and made me feel that Cath needed more help than she was getting. I don’t love the sudden ending – it was all of a sudden over with no warning. The family stuff felt unresolved. And I don’t think the bits of the book or the fanfic lend as much to it as I felt the first time around. Though that could be an element of listening to it instead of reading it. I have read and enjoyed carry on as something silly, and there were a couple of bits that worked for me, but not as many as I’d have liked.

In terms of what I liked – Cath and Levi. Always and forever. I’m not joking when I said I was surprised how invested I was in them. And Cath’s anxiety over it all rang so true for me, though to a much lesser degree! And Levi is so cute and understanding. Not always perfect but it’s nice to have a relationship to focus on that is that simple. Cath’s feelings about her mum. Conflicted, complicated. They made me cry! Cath and Nick. As much as he’s an idiot, I love everything about their interaction and relationship, as it really shows how perception is key – Cath had a totally different understanding of what was going on to him. And Reagan – their snark and friendship is so wonderful.

And then there’s Wren and their Dad. I loved the relationship with her Dad, and the covering of his mental health. I didn’t love as much how much he, and the other adults in their life, seemed to rely on them to manage it, but we do see a slightly worse patch. And I totally get Wren, even if I wanted to brain her for like half the book! Hehe. Sisters are complicated! I’d like to know more about her mental state and what was going on with her drinking, but I’m glad she came around in the end. The end is so much nicer for her being there.

My main complaint is definitely how suddenly it ended – I just want an extra chapter or two on what happened next! But that’s always my complaint 😉

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almost midnightMidnights is the story of Noel and Mags, who meet at the same New Year’s Eve party every year and fall a little more in love each time…

Kindred Spirits is about Elena, who decides to queue to see the new Star Wars movie and meets Gabe, a fellow fan.

Midnights was previously published as part of the My True Love Gave to Me anthology, edited by Stephanie Perkins and Kindred Spirits was previously published as a World Book Day title.

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My rating:  Cyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starCyan-Full starNo-Star

Two super cute short stories – I’d actually read Kindred Spirits before, and it was so nice to go back to. It’s definitely aligned to fangirl by being another homage to fan culture and I like that whole it’s about people queuing to see Star Wars, it’s more about relationships and the people.

The first story is also super cute – I definitely was wondering what was up with Mags throughout in terms of not making her move! But I love that we only got specific snap shots of their life and yet it still works.

And the art work for the book edition is a lovely addition 💙💙

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Buy Fangirl and Almost Midnight at Amazon UK (affiliate links)

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