Most love stories end when the couple in question finally gets together or, often, gets back together. Most coming-of-age stories end there, too, or at a moment when the narrator realizes that they’ve changed, that they’ve grown. Fangirl ends with the release of the last Simon Snow novel, highlighting that, out of all the relationships in the book, the most important is the one between Cath and her fandom. And, as in most stories, this important relationship is the one that’s been tested frequently, the one that’s changed the most. The relationship’s strain was reflected in Cath’s fighting with Wren, its boundaries were tested in Cath’s Writing Fiction class, and its importance was questioned in her relationship with Levi.
Cath and Wren’s relationship is deeper than any series of novels, of course. But Simon Snow is one of their main touchstones, which Wren discards so casually, knowingly hurting Cath. It makes me SO happy to learn that Wren cries at the release, that it’s Wren who expresses the eternal connection that the twins will have with Simon. Cath really does have her girl back — and that means she has her co-writer and favorite beta back, too. But in these final chapters we see Cath’s other writing talent flourish. She leaves the world of Simon Snow behind to write her short story, one that is lauded and praised, as we all knew it would be. She realizes that she isn’t just Magicath; she’s a writer capable of creating her own universe and populating it with developed, interesting characters. We’ll never know if the literary award was as meaningful to receive as “Best in Snow” or “Tastes Like Canon,” but I’ll assume that she’s pretty proud.
Are you shocked that my favorite part of Cath’s relationship to the fandom is the way it changed to let Levi in? Are you surprised that I spent the majority of this time swooning over Cath reading the novel aloud to Levi? If you’ve never followed a series and waited, waited, waited for the next book to come out, then maybe you can’t understand what a big deal this is. I love the Harry Potter series. I really, really love the Jessica Darling books. But, mostly, this meant that I read Megan McCafferty’s blog a lot and once had a “Me Yes Me” shirt and went to some Harry Potter release parties. I didn’t have a community of friends and a secret career as a fic writer. I didn’t have fan art or commemorative busts. And yet — and yet — I don’t think I would read the final novel in a series aloud to someone. That takes so long! I need to know what happens! If anyone ever doubted Cath’s love for Levi, you can see it right here. The old Cath would consider reading the eighth novel to be at the absolute top of her list (and it’s still important. She doesn’t consider reading her short story or any of Levi’s very sexy offers until after they’re finished reading), but here she is, slowing down and taking the time to include Levi in the experience. It’s not just Cath and the fandom anymore. But it’s not Cath leaves the fandom behind, either. It’s perfect.
What else? What else!
- So, the ending with Baz and Simon — are we supposed to assume Gemma was influenced by all of the slash about the two, the way that this season of Sherlock threw in so many winks to its fanbase in love with Sherlock and Watson’s love? That’s what I thought.
- I love that Reagan goes to the release party. Of course, I do. It’s the Reagan fan club over here.
- Can you imagine being one of Levi’s roommates, barely knowing his freshman girlfriend and then running into her while she’s crying with her only explanation being that she’s writing a short story? What a great and strange interaction that could have been.
On the plane from Pittsburgh to Boston on Sunday, I read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and I loved it. The novel will speak to anyone who has longed for more from a book — that there really is a deeper meaning, a community existing beyond the page, a way to keep reading once the story is over — the way that I think people involved in fandoms must. Also, two childhood best friends communicate to each other in a short hand that is derived from their favorite fantasy novels, the way that Cath and Wren must also have a secret Simon Snow code. It’s a fast read (just one plane ride!) and a bit of a caper, and I would absolutely recommend it.