I have been a fan of Rainbow Rowell since reading her first novel for young adults, Eleanor and Park, which remains one of my favorite nerd romances. I also very much liked Fangirl, about a young fan writer who learns some difficult lessons about love, family, and writing your own story during her freshman year as a college English major. (Look for the new graphic novel adaptation from VIZ Media!)
In order to write about a fan writer for Fangirl, Rowell needed a popular fantasy series for her protagonist to be a fan of. She invented the “Simon Snow series,” a Harry-Potter-like fantasy that takes place at Watford School of Magicks, a residential school for magicians which is invisible and inaccessible to “Normals.” Her fangirl protagonist writes slash fan-fic about Simon Snow, who just might be the Chosen One destined to save the World of Mages, and Basilton (Baz) Grimm-Pitch, his roommate, who just might be his worst enemy. Rowell’s fictional series became real when she wrote Carry On, the story of Simon and Baz’s years at Watford, and then Wayward Son, which begins to deal with the effects of their traumatic experiences.
Any Way the Wind Blows is the third book in Rowell’s Simon Snow trilogy. By this time, Simon and Baz are past admiring each other in secret and on their way to becoming lovers. But memories and misunderstandings from their school years, when they fought for and saved the World of Mages, constantly intrude. I do not usually seek out angsty romance, but found Simon and Baz tender, funny, and engaging. I enjoyed watching them grope their way (literally at times) toward growing up and moving past their heroic roles. Not many books acknowledge that, when someone saves the world as a teenager, getting on with the rest of their life might be somewhat difficult.