The thread through the whole book is the fantasy fanfiction Cath is writing, which weaves throughout the ‘real’ life of the story and is what connects or separates Cath from most of the people in her life, including her sister and her writing professor. There are tantalizing glimpses of both the story Cath is writing and the books her characters are based on, which adds an interesting dimension to the story.
Rowell is really great at capturing the feeling of being young and dealing with the strange transition in college between childhood and adulthood, and I really found myself empathizing with Cath very closely. A large part of this was the way in which Cath struggles as an introvert to adapt to the new environment of college, being surrounded by strangers and new expectations of how to 'be cool' and fit in.
The ending was fairly open-ended, but in a way that made sense. Most of the main storylines were pretty well wrapped up, and nothing was left hanging so much as while the story of Cath's freshman year was ending, life was continuing for each character and that’s okay. This was a really great book that I’ve recommended to everyone since I finished. My favorite non-fantasy young adult book so far (sorry John Green; I love you but I just found myself connecting with a female lead character more).
“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can't Google.)” (page 15)
Keep reading! Beth