Sunday 27 March 2016
#CBR8 Book 33: "Kindred Spirits" by Rainbow Rowell
Rating: 4.5 stars
Elena is a huge Star Wars fan, but was too young to camp out in a queue when the prequels were released. She nontheless lives and breathes for the sci fi films and has heard all about her father's experiences with camping out in his day, so when the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, is about to open, she decides that now she'll finally have the chance to experience the same sense of geekery, fandom and community that she's heard and read so much about. However, when she shows up four days before the premiere, the epic line she was imagining consists of only two people, one of whom will barely speak to her.
Elena's mother keeps trying to convince her to come home, Troy (the first guy in line) tries his best to motivate the other two with his many stories of previous camping out experiences and Gabe, well, he gradually seems to thaw a bit and during their long wait together, Elena discovers that he might not have been too friendly to her in the beginning.
This tiny book was released for World Book Day and all the proceeds from it go to charity. Huge and devoted fan that I am, I will take even a tiny sliver of a Rainbow Rowell book over nothing at all, and while I blazed through this and desperately want to find out more from these characters, the story still contained all the things that make Rowell's writing so great. There's a lot of humour and such well observed characters, interacting with each other in ways that just seem to speak directly to me. I laughed out loud several times while reading this, stopping to quote some of my favourite bits at my husband and towards the end I actually had to put the book down for a bit because I was so delighted with the way things turned out. Because it's so short, you only get brief sketches of the characters rather than fully fledged people you want to hug and talk to and hang out with, but there is still so much to admire here.
I loved Elena and Gabe and Troy (who I read somewhere is one of Lincoln's buddies from Attachments!) and their experiences being stalwart fans in an age when you really don't need to camp outside for days or weeks, because you can just buy your tickets in advance and you can usually interact with fans of all ages, creeds and obsessions on every kind of social media imaginable. The seeming futility of camping outside a cinema is discussed in the story, but I still admire the three hardcore members of "the line" for sticking to their principles, even though I would never ever do the same.
Personally, I am a big fan of booking in advance, and as all the cinemas in Oslo have assigned seating, you don't even need to camp in line to get a good spot. That's not to say people don't still do it here. I think people slept outside (in temperatures well below zero Celsius) for over a week once the tickets for The Force Awakens became available. Not to actually get into the cinema, but to be the first to buy tickets and to see it at the 10am screening in the biggest THX cinema in Northern Europe. Of course, because the film was the most popular thing being released in December, it was showing on something like 20 screens all over Oslo, and the husband and I saw it in the afternoon the same day (the 16th, which was opening day here, way before most of the world got a chance to see it) without me having to do anything but log onto the cinema's website a couple of days before. So yeah, in this book, when Elena finally gets to see the film she's gone through quite the hardship to enjoy, I couldn't help but remember that were she real, I would still have gotten to see the film before her. Not going to lie, it felt strangely good.
While I have never experienced any fandom that would make me willing to sleep outside on the ground for even a few hours, let alone days, I nonetheless loved this little story. The only thing that keeps it from being a perfect five stars is how short it is, and that I didn't get to know Elena and Gabe better and see them interact outside the queue. It would be awesome if they show up at some point in later Rowell books. A fan can hope.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.