Jess and I did a book swap as a way to force the other to read and review a book. The theme for our first book swap was 5-star reviews; we gave each other a book we’d previously reviewed as five stars. Jess gave me The Golem in The Jinni and I gave her Fangirl.
- Release Date: September 10th, 2013
- Pages: 445
- Genre: Contemporary
- Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (MacMillan)
- Jess’ Rating: ★★★★★
When Kat gives a book high marks I know I’m going to like it. In a lot of ways this book was my college experience; I went to college with a sibling and during this time that I stumbled (read; lurked) across Livejournal and the crazy world of fandom. I also remember the last Harry Potter book coming out at the start of Freshmen year, that was kind of surreal.
Fangirl chronicles the first year of college for Cath, the ultimate fangirl of the fictional Simon Snow novels. Her longest-running fanfiction Carry On, Simon has legions of readers. For the first time Cath is separated from her twin sister, moving away from her father and learning how to manage college, all while holding on to the fandom that meant so much to her.
It wasn’t so much the fandom or freshmen firsts that really kept me reading. It was the way Fangirl talked about Cath’s journey as a writer. In college, I secretly wondered what it was like to be in a creative writing class. It was a little frustrating at first about how Cath is afraid to break away from fanfiction and this is something I wish the book would have delved a little more in.
I loved the side characters in this book, I feel like Regan and Levi are the people you will eventually meet in college. I even liked Cath’s sister’s roommate, the seemingly “basic” Courtney, who is described as being “subtle as Spencer’s Gift Shop”, which I thought was a pretty funny description.
I feel like Fangirl was really popular for a moment and then kind of faded. Personally, I would love to have some more time with these characters. Cath is the kind of character I would want Rowell to pick up and write again in 10 years, just to see where she is.
I’ve started reading Rowell’s debut novel Attachments and to me the stories she tells, with Fangirl, in particular, come off to me along the lines of women’s fiction (ala Lauren Weisenberger with a little less glamour), I think it has something to do with the writer-minded-girl-with-a-plan protagonist backed up by a cast of quirky characters and nice guy love interest.
I think this book will appeal to the Harry Potter generation, in many ways this book is a love letter to them. I don’t usually do contemporary YA, but this book had me wanting to read “just one more chapter” so for that alone I can give this book 5 stars.
- Release Date: April 23, 2013
- Pages: 496
- Genre: Literary Urban Fantasy
- Publisher: Harper Collins
- Kat’s Rating: ★★★★
My default is usually contemporary, but Jess’ five-star reviews have led me to some amazing non-contemporary novels like Legend, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Divergent. When I saw her glowing review of The Golem and the Jinni I expected I was in for a treat.
But while this book was five stars for her it wasn’t exactly a five star for me. The reading experience reminded me of when I read another literary novel last year, Never Let Me Go, I knew I was reading something good and important, but I couldn’t get lost in it. I had to constantly reorient myself in the book and its mythologies. I do attribute some of this to the fact that the font in the paperback is fairly small and kind of stylized.
Pretty much everything you need to know about The Golem and The Jinni is right on the cover. It’s the story of a Golem, named Chava and a Jinni named Ahmad who find themselves in turn of the century New York City navigating close-knit immigrant neighborhoods.
You don’t have to look far for praise for this book. This book is good and there is no doubt about it. Wecker’s writing is amazing, she easily weaves together different narratives and creates characters with rich backgrounds that pay homage to Syrian and Jewish backgrounds. I actually really enjoyed the historical aspect, because I learned a lot. Like how at that time most Syrian immigrants were Catholic, not Muslim.
If you are looking for historical fiction with a flair or delving into non-Western mythology then The Golem and The Jinni serves up something delightful.