Full disclosure that I am in love with Rainbow Rowell. Everything she writes is sheer perfection and this is no exception. I think you probably have to read Fangirl to really get it, but maybe I’m wrong.
Anyway, this fleshes out the world of mages that we are introduced to in Fangirl’s fanfiction. Now, the whole time I read that book I was wanting to know more about this world, so it’s pretty clear this book needed to exist, at least in my mind. Rowell did a good job writing what it supposed to be the end of a series (In the other world) and making it something easy to dive into. There was enough back story to make you feel like you knew the characters.
This next bit gets a touch spoilery
I loved that Baz was the one who had the long lingering feelings for Simon, it wasn’t the way I expected it to play out. They were adorable together. It does read a little bit like fanfiction in that these two were supposed to hate each other and kill one another, but wait the bad guy has been harboring a secret crush the whole time! But again, maybe this is because we aren’t getting the whole series. Maybe starting in book one we would have seen Baz dealing with these feelings. Clearly the big issue here is that Rowell didn’t set off to write the full six book series.
If she wants to go back at book one and start, I support her.
Seriously, the way Rowell builds people is just perfect, they never fail to feel real even when she is writing about a world that is so unreal.
Read everything she’s ever written.