Rainbow Rowell has delivered yet another heartfelt, clever, and original young adult novel. And to do it, she has gone where no author has gone beforeRainbow Rowell has delivered yet another heartfelt, clever, and original young adult novel. And to do it, she has gone where no author has gone before: into the wide, addictive world of fanfiction. Any of you who were skeptical of how a published writer might treat fanfic writers and readers, don't stress. Rowell herself has read fanfic and has mostly good things to say. Her criticisms--demanding audiences, being so involved that you neglect other aspects of your life--are legit. I've been there and Rowell perfectly captures both the good and bad of being part of a fandom.
That said, the fan fic and Simon Snow excerpts were, for me at least, the least interesting part of this novel. It's not that they weren't good, but they definitely were the weakest part. Rowell manages to write exactly what a talented but sheltered 18 year old slash fic writer would sound like (not that great), while all of the Gemma T. Leslie excerpts sounded like, if Leslie were real, Rowell had ghostwritten them. And, despite many differences from Harry Potter, it still felt like a retread. I also think, given the circumstances, that Cath would have online friends, likely other BNFs, that could have added to the authenticity of the story. Overall, the Internet, not just FanFixx.net, should have played a bigger role in a story set in 2011. Also, no college orientation? No one gets to opt out of orientation and I would think a large state school would have some sort of orientation activities. If not that, than at least an RA should have made an appearance.
The strongest and best part of Fangirl are the characters. Everyone manages to feel universal but unique. You probably know someone in your life who is just like each of the main characters, but not exactly like them. Rowell's characters are flawed, sometimes frustratingly so. They make mistakes and succumb to weaknesses. But they become better for it. They change. They learn. Only one character, for me, was a little too unbelievable. I don't know how she did it, but Rowell managed to construct the perfect fantasy first boyfriend for Cath. (view spoiler)[ He lives on a ranch for god's sake! If Cath and him stay together, she'll get to live with horses and write on a beautiful ranch! (hide spoiler)] No boys, especially at 21, are like Levi. Okay, maybe a few, but they are so rare that they are practically mythic. They are the unicorns of college boys. Readers who may not yet have gone to college should temper their expectations. (view spoiler)[On the other hand, Levi's method for getting Cath alone and making her kissable? Right on the money. Boys who want to do homework alone with you probably also want to make out with you and you will melt a little inside when they brush their hand against yours for the first time. (hide spoiler)]
At times, the plot felt predictable, but I'm not sure if that's because Cath's freshman experience had so much in common with my own. Even so, Cath's journey never seems stale or cliche. And if it starts to go in that direction, then there are pop culture references to acknowledge it and make it fresh again.
Rowell is a fantastic writer. I love her dialogue and pacing and the way she gets in the head of her main characters. I think I said the same things about Eleanor & Park. And I have come to the decision that E&P is still my favorite Rowell novel, but Fangirl has earned a well deserved spot on my favorites of all time list. Is it too soon to start anticipating a new Rowell book? I need more.
Recommended for fangirls and fanboys, and anyone who likes young adult novels!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
You--whoever you are reading this--you need to read this book.
Don't listen to anyone who gave it less than 4 stars.
This book is smart, funny, beautifYou--whoever you are reading this--you need to read this book.
Don't listen to anyone who gave it less than 4 stars.
This book is smart, funny, beautiful and sad in all the right ways and places. It even gets heart-pounding towards the end. Definitely a quick read, but you won't be able to put it down, and you will be thinking about it long after you've finished. Rowell's writing is sublime. Even though I was a wee babe for most of the 80's, I felt like she successfully transported me to 1980's East Omaha. And all of the characters, not just the titular ones, felt so real and completely fleshed out. You will lose yourself in the immersive world of Eleanor's and Park's neighborhood.
Eleanor & Park was also not an easy book to read, because I have felt and thought a lot of the things Eleanor felt about herself. But that made me love this book even more, because Rowell is never condescending or judgmental of Eleanor, and she handles her story with such care and tenderness.
This is going to sound cheesy and I rarely say things like this, but I feel I really connected with this book, and I'm not even close to being a teenager anymore.
A new coming-of-age classic has arrived and its title is Eleanor & Park....more
I read this book in less than a day, which was actually a nice change of pace from really long, dense novels that take a while. It is clearly meant foI read this book in less than a day, which was actually a nice change of pace from really long, dense novels that take a while. It is clearly meant for younger readers, and I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more back in middle school. It's not that Jane Austen doesn't translate well to modern day settings. After all, Clueless was genius and I've read quite a few other "updates" to Austen classics that were great. The problem is really that so much of the dialogue is painful to read. Instead of making it her own, it's like James did a direct translation. She looked at each paragraph in Persuasion and directly translated what each word Austen wrote would sound like in a more modern, American speech pattern. And it doesn't work. Teenagers don't talk or think like that. So it just feels unrealistic and watered down. Or overwrought and far too mature for their age.
That said, it's a sweet story that'll make you say awwww. I place the target audience between 12 and 15 or so. But grown up Austen fans probably won't be persuaded to fall in love with this particular adaptation....more
I have a soft spot for stories that take place in travelling carnivals or circuses (i.e.Carnivàle), and thus was very excited to be given a copy of ShI have a soft spot for stories that take place in travelling carnivals or circuses (i.e.Carnivàle), and thus was very excited to be given a copy of Showtime in exchange for reviewing it. Not that I thought it would be anything like Carnivàle or Something Wicked This Way Comes. At most, I was expecting lighter, easily digestible fare to keep me entertained, with lots of shine but not much substance.
You'd think I would know by now not to judge a book by it's cover!
Don’t be fooled by the YA sheen that this book emits in its synopsis and design. Showtime is dark. It is violent. It is creepy and mysterious. And you will love almost every moment of it. In fact, I’m really glad I read this soon after the conclusion of the most recent season of Boardwalk Empire, because Showtime complements that similar stories and shows without including a single gangster. That’s because Kayne perfectly captures the desperation, grunge, and violence of that era, which lurked in an underbelly beneath the facade of American extravagance and showmanship. (There is no mention of World War I in the book, so I assume, it being 1918, that the War has already concluded and America is preparing to enter the Roaring 20’s.)
But Showtime isn’t really about all of that. Laila Vilonia, a 16 year old girl with a prostitute mother and a invalid father, is the main character and the heart and soul of the story. When we meet her, she isn’t planning to run away and join the circus. In fact, she has resigned herself to a shitty life like her mother’s when she accidentally gets herself hired by the Marvelle Circus. From there, we are with her as she makes her first real friends, falls in love, and builds her performance chops in the months that follow. As victimized as she has been in the past, she sticks up for herself and makes her own decisions. Laila isn’t perfect. She makes mistakes that you would expect an adolescent to make and she is sometimes weak when we want her to be strong. Nevertheless, she is realistic and well developed with plenty of room to grow in future installments.
Other things that I appreciated about the book included the absence of a trite love triangle, and the fact that Laila not only has female friends but she talks about things with them other than boys and seems to genuinely care about them and vice versa.
Some of the writing suffered from lack of clarity and there were some typos, but it wasn’t enough to make me stop reading. By the time you get to the second act, you won’t be able to put it down. The pacing of the plot was a little quick for my tastes. I prefer a slow burn with lots of details and wouldn’t have minded another fifty or so pages with more about circus life and the other people who work for Marvelle.
My absolute favorite parts of the book were the descriptions of the performances. Kayne has a talent for writing the action of a show and making it interesting, exciting, and almost like being there! In second place was the love story, which was mysterious and unsettling, but ultimately beautiful and never forced. And in third place is Laila’s best friend, Jodelle, who is a spitfire with attitude and a good soul and my favorite supporting character.
I hesitate to give Showtime five stars for two reasons. First, the inclusion of a character with (what I assume to be from context clues) Down’s Syndrome, was not handled in the best way possible. What I mean by that is the character was merely a plot device and a victim--we do not meet her or know what happened from her point of view. I firmly believe that we need more characters in literature who have disabilities, and who are more than just stock characters or plot devices. Second, what happens to Laila towards the end of the book really should come with some sort of warning. While I think it was written tactfully and with all due gravity, I’m not convinced that it also was not more than a plot device to make the villains look really, really terrible. I don’t like putting spoilers in reviews, so I will leave it at that, and say that I am anticipating the sequel with an open mind. Perhaps the aftermath of that violence hasn’t completely wrapped up yet.
All told, I really liked Showtime and am eagerly anticipating the sequel (set for Spring 2014). This book is perfect for older teens, fans of the weird and mysterious, and people who like historical fiction/romance.
And really, for only $0.99 for the ebook, there’s no good excuse not to check this book out!...more
This book is probably the greatest modern love story I have ever read. The Notebook doesn't even compare to this novel, which I couldn't put down. TheThis book is probably the greatest modern love story I have ever read. The Notebook doesn't even compare to this novel, which I couldn't put down. The supernatural element is nothing new to entertainment in general, but I think it is new in fiction not labeled as "science fiction/fantasy." Switching the point of view could get irritating, but in most cases it works smoothly and keeps the reader interested. The jumping around of time was a fun way to tell the story, giving it a mystery vibe, and went along with the protagonist's condition. Overall, a fascinating and emotional read....more