Author: Rainbow Rowell
My rating: …Meh (see the very bottom of the post for my overall review, spoiler free)
Disclaimer: I listened to the audiobook while at work, and my video was cut short by maybe fifteen minutes. Since I didn’t care for the book too much, I never cared about what happened in those last few minutes. Maybe that would make a huge difference in my review. If I get around to buying the book and reading the ending, I’ll update my review. Otherwise, my opinion stands.
I decided I wanted to give this book a shot when I needed something new other than reading about my beloved, chosen heroines. There was a lot of hype surrounding this book on various Youtube channels, so I figured why not? I thought I may be able to relate to Cath as I am a massive fan girl of books like the Hunger Games and Divergent, and the television show Game of Thrones.
THIS SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS. CONTINUE READING AT YOUR OWN RISK.
The bad: I’d like to start with the bad so I can end on a positive note.
For me, a great book’s core is a drastic, deep, character arc. In my opinion, Cath definitely did not have one. I saw some changes in her, but she always seemed to revert back to something negative. Obviously she has major social anxiety and is a massive introvert, but dear God woman! Have some confidence. If not at the beginning of the book, please, please at the end! I’m mostly referencing the inferred sex scene between her and Levi, (I think many of us who shipped them agreed it happened). It’s been a couple of months since I read the book so forgive my rough memory, but I remember even when her and Levi were kissing, she addressed her insecurities. It was hard for me to enjoy that scene, which was a bummer. I adore highly anticipated love scenes between characters with a good history, such as Cath and Levi. However, every time Levi made a move on Cath, she talked about how stupid she felt and how she didn’t think she was doing anything right.
Also, can we please address her dad’s character? What happens with him? I won’t lie, most of the scenes with him were just…well, boring. Oh, and her mom? So her mom shows up when Wren drinks herself straight to the emergency room, then just leaves. Absolutely nothing gets worked about between Cath and her mom. Cath hates her from page one all the way till the end. What’s the point?
Every time I had to listen to a Simon Snow excerpt, I cringed. I liked how the excerpts seemed to foreshadow what was happening in Cath’s life, but other than that, I could have gone without them. I understand Simon Snow makes Cath that nerdy, insecure, fangirl introvert we are supposed to love, but it seemed like more of a way to add words to a story that needed more important words and development elsewhere.
The good: Now that positive note I promised.
Raegan. I feel like all I need to say is her name because she was that awesome. Sure maybe she was a little too rough around the edges at times, but if it wasn’t for her, our girl Cath never would’ve done anything. So let’s all thank Rowell for Raegan.
More importantly, you likely won’t find a character more relatable than Cath. Rowell couldn’t have described an introvert’s freshmen experience at university more accurately. I loved hearing every time Cath ate another protein bar in the bathroom stall, even more so when Levi ate them. I laughed when she finally went to the dining halls with Raegan and they gave nicknames to every person there. I felt for her when she didn’t want to return to the University of Nebraska during winter break, because though she said it was to watch out for her father, being out of her comfort zone was difficult and scary. I experienced all of these moments, and to know others go through the same thing is so validating. Everything she experiences is real to thousands of young women starting a new life, and Rowell wrote a character who shows you that. I honestly think this overpowers much of the bad I wrote about above and what makes this book worth reading.
Overall: It may seem like I wouldn’t recommend this book, but the reality of it is written so well that I’ll say nervous introverts everywhere would be foolish for not reading this book. Especially if you’re a nervous introvert who loves YA literature. If you are like me and love to read books about heroines who just happen to be the “chosen-one,” always managing to save the world and look totally badass doing it while ending up in a sexy love triangle, this book will be a light-hearted, refreshing break. There will be enough for you to feel annoyed over, but you’ll keep reading because somewhere in the story, you’ll become invested in Cath’s life. To me, that definitely says Rainbow Rowell is doing something right.