“It’s just … everything. There are too many people. And I don’t fit in. I don’t know how to be. Nothing that I’m good at is the sort of thing that matters there. Being smart doesn’t matter—and being good with words. And when those things do matter, it’s only because people want something from me. Not because they want me.”
Cath starts college feeling completely alone. Her twin sister, Wren, decided to find her own roommate rather than room with Cath. Cath’s random roommate, Reagan, is never around (but her overly-chatty boyfriend always is), and Cath spends most of her time at her computer. No one at the university knows who she is. But online, things are different. Online she is Magicath, one of the most popular writers of Simon Snow fanfiction. Despite her creative writing professor’s insistence that fanfiction is not “real” writing, Cath spends all her free time writing new chapters of her fanfiction, “Carry On, Simon.” She feels safe there, comforted by the characters she grew up reading about.
But real life…that Cath isn’t so great at. She doesn’t know how to deal with Wren’s newfound party-girl mentality or her dad’s on again, off again depression. She struggles to adapt to her new environment. And above all this is the looming fact that the last Simon Snow book is due to be released in the spring, and Cath is determined to finish her fanfiction first, before the real ending is decided.
I loved SO MANY THINGS about this book. Cath, for starters, personifies most creative writers I know, including myself. She has a lot of the same (minor) social anxieties as I do. For example, she goes the first month and a half of college without ever eating in the cafeteria because she’s too anxious to go and figure it out (When do I swipe my card? Which way does the buffet line go? Where do I sit once I have my food? Where do I put my dishes when I’m done?). I’ve never found a character who has a ton of the same quirks as me until Cath. She’s also a writing major (well, English, technically, but with a writing focus), and this is the first book I’ve read with a college-aged creative writer MC. (It did wonders for my grad school motivation!) And I LOVED Levi, her roommate’s ever-present boyfriend. He works at Starbucks and is always saying something funny. No spoilers for those who haven’t read it, but he will warm your heart like a gingerbread latte! :)
One small thing I found distracting: excerpts of Cath’s fanfiction, “Carry On, Simon,” are included between chapters. I was so engrossed in the book itself I found myself skimming (or sometimes skipping) the Simon Snow pieces to get back to Cath and Wren and Reagan and Levi because I was so excited to know what happened next. When I reread it, I’ll probably pay more attention to the Simon Snow pieces. After all, it’s meant to serve as a representation of the Harry Potter craze!
Overall I adored this book and would recommend it to anyone. Even if you aren’t a writer, you’ve definitely been a fan of something (a book, a TV show, a movie), and you’ll find your place in this book!
Also, the most adorable, perfect, giggle-like-a-lovestruck-middle-schooler romance I’ve read in AGES!