Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

ISBN: 9781250030955
Source: Christmas gift! :)
Series: No, Stand-Alone
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Find it on Goodreads
See all of my Rainbow Rowell reviews

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


What's that movie that had the line, "You had me at 'hello'"? Jerry Maguire? That's what came to mind when I pondered how I felt about this book after just reading the first page. I feel like a cheeseball for saying it, but it is what it is. This book, at its most basic points, is about a young college-aged girl who writes Simon Snow (Harry Potter) fancfiction. Gay Simon-Baz (Harry-Draco) fanfiction. This may seem strange to you. It seemed strange to me. But after reading the book, it seems to fit perfectly. 

After reading Eleanor and Park, I didn't think there was any way I could be as obsessed with Fangirl as I was with E&P. In actuality, I feel completely different about the two books, but in some way, exactly the same. I loved them exactly the same is what I mean, I guess, but for completely different reasons. E&P made me swoon, and it was almost entirely focused on the love story with bits of Eleanor's terrible life on the side.

With Fangirl, we meet Cath. We submerse ourselves in Cath, getting to know who she is, relating to her - because let's be honest people: Cath is one of the most relatable characters in YA contemporary fiction these days. We get to see what her life is like and for more than a quarter of the book, while there is some setu , there is no real development between her and a love interest, which I found refreshing. As many of you may know from experience one way or another, a lot of us bloggers/readers/writers suffer from anxiety, depression, etc., and it was comforting to find out through Cath and her experiences that we are not alone. It was, at times, hard to read and see some ridiculous decisions (that we would have likely made ourselves) unfold on the page but it was also enlightening. Basically, thanks to Cath, we maybe don't feel as alone as we did before, knowing that someone out there understands us, even if it is just Rainbow Rowell in the form of her characters.

I suppose I'd previsously thought of myself as emotionally incosistent as far as reading about certain topics  unless the reading materials dealt with something specific, e.g. a break up, family issues, death, rejection - in other words, something I'd dealt with personally. But Rowell had my emotions all over the place with this novel and not always for any of those specific things I mentioned. I cried over things directly related to reading and writing and that was a first for me.

Everything about this book felt personal. Not just the fact that Cath is so relatable and much of the story revolves around reading and writing, but every little nuance, every little word, feels like it was written with the specific reader in mind and it brought me even closer to the story (if that's even possible). Am I even making any sense right now!? I hope that the people who have read this book understand me. For those of you who haven't, obviously the only way to understand this review is to go read the book. So, go on. Read it.

About three quarters of the way through, I spent about one chapter thinking that this book was taking a turn out of the extraordinary into the... ordinary. I thought it was leaving the world of absolute uniqueness and sliding slowly into cliche. I hoped beyond hope that the ending wouldn't be lame and anticlimactic. Well don't you worry - I was wrong and the story was fine. It just had a slightly slow chapter but the ending was perfect. I had to go back and read the last two pages a couple more times because I just didn't want to leave Cath and her life behind.

I wasn't entirely sure what Rowell's intention was with Cath's twin sister, Wren. I couldn't tell if she was trying to teach us (and Cath) some kind of lesson with her, or if Wren was learning her own lessons and we just got to sit back and watch. It was hard to understand more than the basic function of their relationship as twins and best friends because the book starts right off with Wren pretty much "breaking up" with Cath. I don't think I felt their chemistry together as BFF's and it was hard to move past the dislike I had for Wren for most of the book.

Oh, I suppose you'd like to know about the romance aspect of the book? After reading E&P, which no YA contemporary romance will ever compare to, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the romance didn't really begin until a quarter to halfway through the book. It was sweet and slow and funny and heartwrenching and everything I could've wanted. It was very different from Eleanor and Park's romance in that it wasnt an entirely painful experience to read. Cath and Levi made me happy. They made me a little sad at times, but they definitely made me feel happy.

I loved Cath's character development overall, but mostly I loved that she didn't change that much. She learned to stand up for herself, and learned to let go a little and move outside of her comfort zone, but she was still the Cath we can all relate to so much and definitely learn something from.

Last but not least, I need to talk about the feelings surrounding Simon Snow (aka Harry Potter) and books/writing in general.I read a review of Fangirl that mentioned how Fangirl makes us feel validated in our feelings about books and writing, and that no, they aren't just books. The person who wrote that review (I can't remember who, so sorry!) was so right. That is exactly how I felt because Fangirl kind of reminds us that we are all in this together. Our families and friends don't quite understand our obsessions, but we understand each other, and it's books like this one that remind us of that.

Toward the end, the way Cath and Wren felt about the story, the books, the fanfic, everything... it felt so real because it's something so many of us have felt and experienced before. I've never really read any fanfic but I have to admit that I would probably have a hard time getting into it because I love the real stories so much. But after reading this, while I might not be quite ready to enter to the world of fanfic, I have a new respect for it, for sure!


I didn't think I could love anything as much as Eleanor and Park, but here I am telling you all that I love it just as much. I've found a new favorite author and I've already gone and ordered her other book, Attachments. I've never read a more relatable character or story than I have with Cath in Fangirl and it is something that I will definitely be rereading in the near future.

It was an amazing read and I absolutely loved it! Have any of you read Fangirl yet? Please tell me what you thought! I loved this book so much that I can't wait to talk about it with all of you!

Get a second opinion
Thoughts and Pens [2 star rating]
Ash Wednesday [3.5 star rating]
Writer of Wrongs [4.5 star rating]


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