4.5 stars for this book! Slow start, good middle, epic ending.
I loved, adored, Fangirl by this author (even so much that I have 2 editions (normal hardcover + special pink hardcover (limited edition), and I am hoping to one day also have a signed edition). As you can see, I am a big fangirl for the book. I also loved the little fanfic stuff inside and so was delighted when I found out that Rainbow Rowell was making a book about Simon and Baz.
Sadly, I had some bumps in the road in reading this book. The first 140-ish pages were terribly slow, reminded me endlessly of Harry Potter (will mention what and how in a bit), Simon was excruciatingly annoying, same story for Penelope.
But then, then it all started to get better when Baz finally made his way into the story. Finally the story sped up, finally there was some action. Baz, Baz was such a better character than Simon. Less whiny, less OMG I need to go to the Mage, less urgh and bleh, and more and more awesome, kickass and so interesting to read about.
And then the story got some more speed with stuff that happened. It took me 4 days to get to page 140, it took me about 3 days to get from 140 to 500+. So much was happening, and there was also quite a bit of romance.
But, like I said there were Harry Potter stuff all over, at least, that is how I felt. And especially in the beginning when you don't know about a lot of stuff. Later on in the story you will see the differences, especially when stuff does get revealed.
-We have the one chosen child who apparently has no parents > Simon
-We have an annoying, preachy, political stuffed, know-it-all who doesn't take no for an answer and will talk anyone down when they do something wrong > Penelope
-We have a wizard who is really important + who kind of takes care of the Chosen Child > The Mage (though Dumbledore is so much kinder and sweeter)
-We have the grumpy pale nemesis of the Chosen Child > Baz (though Baz is at least a vampire)
-We have a magical school in the middle of nowhere > Watford
-We have a being who is destroying the world > Humdrum
-You have a world with Normals who can't know about magic, and the ones using the Magic.
-And apparently you have some sort of Crucifix (with a magic spell) who will decide with whom you will stay during your school years.
-The Chosen One has to destroy the Humdrum.
-There is a war.
-There is a little village just a bit away from Watford.
So um, yeah, as you can see it is quite Harry Potterish, especially in the beginning. Which just sucked, I am sorry, if I want to read Harry Potter I will just read that book. I didn't want a book that just ripped stuff off and gave them different names and a few different traits.
Luckily, later there were will be more differences (though of course, the gist stays that it is just a lot of Harry).
There is quite a bit of romance/tension between two characters, though it took them AGES to finally get there. I have to say that I startled my boyfriend when, while reading this book around 11pm, suddenly screamed FINALLY! when he was just walking in to come to bed. :D
But I just had to let it out, because it took them sooo soooo long to finally acknowledge stuff, and get to kissing. I really wish there was more of it, now it was just in the later part of the book, while I feel that there were enough earlier times when it could have been done.
The Humdrum, and what he actually is, it was really interesting to read, though again, I kept thinking of him as Voldemort. Later though we find out several interesting things, no spoilers though. :)
I also wish we had seen some more of the school + lessons. At times it just felt like all they were doing was discussing, lots of sexual frustration, and being grumpy (Simon).
So the book was really awesome, well if you can get through the first 140 pages (and then with some dips here and there in the later parts). Baz was amazing, and I wouldn't have minded a whole book only about him. He is amazing, and so fascinating.
Ah, also, normally I am not a fan of multiple POVs, but the author really did a fantastic job in this book with them. I was delighted to see the POVs of the other characters, see what they think/thought.
All in all, would I recommend this book? I am not sure. Yes, I loved it, but I know that it took me 2 tries to get this book done, and so I will just say that the readers will have to pick for themselves.
Also I have to give bonus points for the amazing hardcover and what you can see when you remove the jacket.
Review first posted at http://twirlingbookprincess.com/