Rainbow Rowell’s first book, Fangirl, was mostly centered about the fanfic that the main character wrote of Simon Snow. Rainbow decided that she wanted to expand the characters that she, as the main character, wrote about in Fangirl. This was the outcome.
Simon Snow was born a Normal human. He was abandoned at an orphanage when he was a baby, with the words, “Simon Snow,” written on his arm. When he was young, the Mage found him at the orphanage, and enrolled Simon in Watford, sort f like Hogwarts in Harry Potter. The Mage is sort of like Dumbledore, the headmaster and the Mage of all Magic. However, because he was a normal, Simon was not able to register regularly. He was only allowed to register when the Mage named Simon as his heir, and giving him a magic sword. Simon Snow was supposed to be proficied as the strongest mage to ever live, and he has a lot of power. However, he doesn’t know how to focus the power, and can usually not do even the simplest spells.
As a first year, he was paired with his roommate, Baz, whom he suspected to be a vampire. Baz and Simon hated each other, and viewed the other as each other’s nemesis. Baz has even made several attempts to kill Snow, though he stopped later. Every Summer, though, whenever the school year ended at Watford, the Mage sent Simon back to an orphanage, though not the same one every year. During that time, he was not to have contact with any of his friends, nor anyone magic.
The story takes place in Simon Snow’s 8th and final year at Watford. The year before, the antagonist, the Insidious Humdrum, summoned Simon Snow and his best friend, Penny. They managed to get away, though not without harm. The Magic world was at danger, for the Humdrum was creating ‘dead zones,’ places where there was no magic. Mages would go mad if they stood inside a dead spot for so long, because they felt like they were missing something vital for life.
When Simon got back to Watford for his 8th year, he met with Penny, who, after not hearing from Simon for a couple months, was naturally excited to see him. After she left, the Mage visited, and told Simon that he was not going to be attending Watford for this year. Instead, he would be hidden with a private tutor, away from the people (and Humdrum) who meant him harm. Simon adamantly refused, and insisted that he stayed at the academy, with his friends. The Mage relented, and Simon stayed.
The school year started, and Simon talked to Agatha, his girlfriend, who last year was spotted holding hands with Baz, his sword enemy. They both decided not to talk about it, but instead ignore it. Baz was nowhere to be seen, and Simon started to get anxious, for he didn’t want his enemy popping out of nowhere. Snow then began searching high and low for Baz, though he was nowhere to be seen.
When he finally shows up, Baz looks horrible. Not just in the pale, dead look like he always had, but a skinny, I’m starving, and I just got locked in a coffin for 6 weeks by nipsies look. And that’s exactly what happened. Baz told Snow later that he had been kidnapped by nipsies, which are sort of like mini troll creatures. During that time, the Veil opened, and Baz’s mother, a previous headmistress of Watford, was waiting for Baz. When he didn’t show up, she left a message with Snow to tell Baz.
They follow the message, which told them who killed Baz’s mother. This book is filled with mystery, magic, vampires, all the good stuff. I would recommend reading this book after you read fangirl, when you are reeling from the ending, and needing more Rainbow Rowell books. You learn about revenge, what happens with the Humdrum, and who the Mage is.
Recommended Age: 12+
Personal Opinion: I, as a teen myself, immensely enjoyed this novel. The writing techniques were smooth, seamless, and I wasn’t even able to put down the book for a second. I completely fell in love with all the characters, and wanted Baz and Simon to work out so badly. I really shared emotions with these characters, and cried at the ending, because I didn’t want the book to end. Because I enjoy fantasy and magic so much, it was like dessert. Because I also liked her first novel, Fangirl, I also fell in love with this one. I would recommend this to anyone who is not looking for a regular cheesy romance novel, but a good, heart to heart one. (Jade’s Rating- 4/5)