Review: ‘Kindred Spirits’ by Rainbow Rowell

Blurb from GoodReads: 

‘Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.’
‘Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?’
‘Maybe.’

If you broke Elena’s heart, Star Wars would spill out. So when she decides to queue outside her local cinema to see the new movie, she’s expecting a celebration with crowds of people who love Han, Luke and Leia just as much as she does. What she’s not expecting is to be last in a line of only three people; to have to pee into a collectible Star Wars soda cup behind a dumpster or to meet that unlikely someone who just might truly understand the way she feels.

Review: 

Kindred Spirits is an endearing, funny and relatable short novella from Rainbow Rowell, the author of Fangirl (review here.) Elena is a die-hard Star Wars obsessive- so much so that she begs and pleads her mum to let her queue for FOUR DAYS (equipped with sleeping bag, Star Wars books, many layers of clothing, and lots of food) in freezing December. I did love how her worried-to-death mother kept driving past to check if she was alright- little touches like this really ground the story in the real world, and make it all the more charming.

However, even though I can be pretty geeky I’m not a Star Wars fan- swords and sorcery fantasy is more my vibe- and haven’t seen the films for many, many years, so some of the references were lost on me. Although I am a fan of Rowell’s writing, I also feel as though she has a habit of writing the same character- a lot of Elena’s characteristics I had found previously in Cath, the heroine of Fangirl, who is hardcore obsessed with her favourite fictional characters, Baz the vampire and Simon the magician, and writes fanfic where they’re in a relationship. (Happily, this wonderful idea came to full fruition in Rowell’s novel Carry On, which I have yet to read fully- eeek! sorweee!- but really respect for the amazing LGBT representation. Baz and Simon=FOREVER. They were even included in my Literary Tea Party Tag.)

I do, however, really like the way in which Rowell taps into contemporary cultural phenomena and massive crazes- e.g. for Simon and Baz, read the huge Harry Potter fanverse and Draco and Harry ‘shipping’ (‘Drarry’ is a real thing, guys) or even Scorpius and Albus. (#TeamScorbus.) Furthermore, even though Eleanor and Park is set in the 1980s, Eleanor and Park’s mutual love of mixtapes feels very current. And in Fangirl, fanfic takes centre stage. So now, with Kindred Spirits, we have Star Wars.

The awe-inspiring fandoms of Harry Potter and Star Wars can arguably seem intimidating to those not in the know, and yet Rowell has a knack for bringing them down to size and giving them a human element. After all, who doesn’t want someone to understand accept them? And perhaps to share their Star Wars obsession? Whilst Elena’s character didn’t particularly grab me- and the plot was a bit predictable- I enjoyed this story, and it had an added poignancy for me due to the sudden and very sad death of Carrie Fisher.

Note: The UK version of this story was given out for World Book Day. ALL proceeds from the US ebook sales of Kindred Spirits will go to ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union, which is doing vital and inspiring work in the USA.

Overall rating: 6 out of 10

Read if you enjoyed: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, of course

Image from crossroad-detective on Tumblr

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