Author: Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 5 of 5
Throughout the magickal world, an Insidious Humdrum is sucking the magic away, leaving gaping holes of magickal vacuum scattered all over Great Britain. And the only thing standing between the magickal world and this great threat is a boy who spent the first eleven years of his life not even aware that magic exists. Simon Snow: the most powerful magician in the world–and also the most incompetent at controlling his own abilities. If not for his best friend Penny, it’s doubtful that he would have even made it through his first seven years at Watford. Of course, Simon would have more time to devote to his studies if he weren’t so obsessed with his vampire (unconfirmed) roommate, Baz. And as Simon and his friends enter their final year at Watford, Simon finds himself even more distracted when Baz doesn’t return to school–clearly he’s plotting something particularly nasty. Or maybe not?
From the first time I read Fangirl, I’ve always thought that I enjoyed the Simon Snow parts of the story perhaps the best of all, so I was thrilled when I discovered that Rowell had actually developed the idea into a complete (rather extensive) story, Carry On. I was even more pleased when I read it–it’s a very enjoyable story. Any initial tendencies to compare the story to Harry Potter (which seems a pretty obvious comparison when reading Fangirl) are quickly brushed away when reading the actual book; the similarities are superficial while the distinct originality absolutely shines. I particularly love the way Rowell developed the use of magic here, the way it relies so much on everyday language (it makes sense when you read it). The story is definitely Rowell’s, featuring plenty of geeky conversation and an adorable love story, but it’s a Rowell story set in a completely different genre. I’m pleasantly shocked at how utterly well it works. The number of geeky/pop-culture references is fun, but not placed in such a way that much would be lost if the reader doesn’t catch the reference. I found it particularly interesting that an American author writes a story here about British people–in first person. I was never led to believe that it was a British book–the flow is too American somehow–yet I was convinced that Simon himself and his friends were British, which is quite an accomplishment. The style, vocabulary, and references were just enough without being so overkill as to seem fake. Finally, the characters themselves were interesting (adorable) and were developed nicely through dialogue and the perspectives of other characters, as well as their own first-person thoughts, such that I felt like I knew them by the end of the book. Basically, if you like contemporary fantasy and also enjoy shounen ai stories, Carry On is just about perfect. You should check it out if you haven’t already.
Author: Rainbow Rowell
If you found a magic phone that would call the past, would you use it to try to correct the mistakes you made back then? Surprisingly, TV comedy writer and mom Georgie McCool finds herself faced with just that question. Just as she and her husband Neal are packing up to take their two little girls, Alice and Noomi, to visit their grandparents in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie gets the breakthrough opportunity of a lifetime that she’s been waiting for, well, forever . . . only, she’ll have to stay in California over Christmas to make it happen. Neal leaves angry, taking the girls to Omaha; Georgie stays in California to work on their new show with her (male) BFF Seth. Or at least, she would be working if she weren’t so torn up over everything, especially Neal. So when she’s crashing at her mom’s place and none of the cell phones seem to be getting through to Omaha, Georgie tries plugging in her old landline phone . . . and quickly finds that she’s getting through, not to the Omaha of today, but to the Omaha of that Christmas years ago, right before Neal proposed to her. . . .
Rainbow Rowell’s books are always a treat, and Landline was no exception. The plot is both original and contemporary, yet at the same time, universal and timeless. And of course, the characters are priceless–authentic, real, almost tangible. It’s great that none of the characters in this story are at all like me, yet through Rowell’s writing, I can get into their heads a bit, understand who they are and why they made the choices they did. Not that I necessarily approve of all their choices (I can’t ever think that choosing career or dreams over family is a wise choice), but I can at least understand. The blend of romance, family, humor, drama, and geeky reference is nicely balanced throughout so the story never gets bogged down. The one thing that threw me when reading Landline was the Twilight Zone element–that’s not shown up in anything of Rowell’s that I’ve read before–but it worked with the story, so that’s okay. I really would recommend Landline for just about anyone looking for a fun, funny, sweet yet complicated adult romance . . . just be aware that it’s an adult story (18+, please).
Author: Rainbow Rowell
When Lincoln O’Neill took the Internet security job for the local paper, he really had in mind something a bit more glamorous than reading inter-office e-mails and supervising college kids while they prepare for the Y2K disaster . . . or play Doom on company time, more like. Lincoln’s attention is piqued though when the Internet filter starts catching e-mails back and forth between two friends, Beth and Jennifer. The two (particularly Beth) are funny and kind, and before he knows it, Lincoln finds himself falling in love with a girl he’s never even seen! But is it possible to go from there into a real relationship, or is he fated the remain the creepy stalker (that, let’s face it, he already is)?
I truly enjoyed reading Fangirl, my first Rainbow Rowell novel, but I think I actually appreciated Attachments even more. I found myself really relating to the characters . . . and even better, really liking them as people. As strange and ethically unsound as their paths might have been, I wanted them to be happy–together if possible, but just happy would have been enough. I also enjoyed the way the story is told–you get Lincoln’s perspective mixed with a series of e-mail exchanges between Beth and Jennifer . . . and that’s it. The e-mails are really interesting (intimate conversations between best friends), plus only getting what Lincoln knows increases the suspense, somehow. I’d recommend Attachments to anyone who likes a sweet, slightly geeky romance.