by Rainbow Rowell
Published: 30th January 2014
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Cath 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 any more – 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 her comfort zone. She’s got a surly room-mate 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 realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible
I bought this book in Waterstones a little while ago, and I picked up at first because the cover caught my eye, and then I read the blurb. It mentioned twins, university and fan fiction so I put it straight into my basket as it sounded like something I’d love. I was absolutely not disappointed.
This book isn’t full of fast paced, heart racing action, but I still couldn’t put the book down. This is a character driven novel, and Rowell is a master at creating amazing, engaging characters. From the first chapter I loved Cath. I identified with her quite a lot. She’s reserved and a little bit socially awkward. I was surprised how much I engaged with the characters as the book is written in third person. I loved reading about Cath’s childhood, it added a lot of depth to the character and her relationships, especially with her sister, Wren.
I was really involved with all of the characters. I loved meeting her roommate and seeing their relationship progress and ultimately watch Cath come out from her shell. One thing I love about this author is that she does write romance really well. As her characters are quirky, the relationships feel a lot more realistic. I like that they aren’t overly passionate straight away, the build-up is written beautifully. The main thing I loved was that romance is not the most important thing for Cath, she has other passions. I was rooting for the love interest from the beginning, and wanting to kick the characters that wronged her.
To go along with the strong characters, Rowell has a flair for writing dialogue. I absolutely love books that have fantastic dialogue, and I’d consider this book one of the best for it. Each piece of dialogue was authentic, and really made the characters come to life. Each voice was different, and unique to the character. I think if someone read me a piece of the dialogue I could identify the character.
I’d never read a book that references fanfiction before, so it was a thrilling addition to the narrative and it added something extra to the narrative. I adored reading about Cath’s passion for writing. It also added an interesting texture, as we are able to read some of Cath’s fanfiction, and Cath’s ‘writing voice’ was distinctly different from Rainbow Rowell’s. I liked reading the Simon Snow snippets from the ‘author’ of the book too, it reminded me a lot of Harry Potter which made me smile. I did sometimes feel like I wanted to skip these extras because I was so engrossed in the main plot, and I could have done as it doesn’t affect the main narrative.
I’d heard a lot of hype about this book, and I think it deserves it. It really is a wonderful read. I’m sometimes suspicious of hype, because I don’t want to be disappointed. I wasn’t in the slightest, I couldn’t fault this book at all, and I count this book as one of my favourites.
I encourage you all to pick up this book and fall in love with these characters as much as I did.
If you’d like to grab yourself a copy: Amazon link