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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?
Fangirl is a book that I want to simultaneously clutch to my chest forever and shove at everyone in a 10km radius, imploring them to read it! As you might know, I am a firm lover of fantasy – yet Fangirl is one of those rare contemporary that sweeps me away with its own brand of magic. Here’s why I loved it
“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)”
Our main character, Cath, wins the award for my fictional spiritual match. I love her awkward, snarky, intelligent, and ultimately loving self. Although I’ve been out of university for 2+ years now, I can still remember all of the nerves from the first days in class. While I don’t suffer from social anxiety the way Cath does, I do relate to the insecurity and fear that I would never fit in. Like Cath, I loathed change and wanted to stick to my usual routines, the usual friends that I knew – and college is a huge step away from all that is familiar. I think this book should be a must-read for every single student in college. It captures the terror, but it also reminds us that it’s not all bad. If you’re not a fanfiction loving nerd like myself, there’s also plenty of other characters you may identify with. Whether it’s Cath’s intimidating room mate, Raegan. Or Cath’s wild sister, Wren. Or the cheerful, gorgeous Levi – they capture the spectrum of emotions in this tumultuous time in life.
“You’re not a book person, and now you’re not an Internet person? What does that leave you?”
Levi laughed. “Life. Work. Class. Other people.”
“Other people”, Catch repeated, shaking her head and taking a sip. “There are other people on internet. It’s awesome. You get all the benefits of ‘other people’ without the body odor and the eye contact.”
I actually expected Fangirl to be heavy on drama, but I love how the tougher subjects it handle is balanced out with humour. Whether it’s from Cath’s sharp observations about college life, from Reagan’s flippant attitude, or Levi’s compulsive need to please – they all provide a light touch to the book. I also love the juxtaposition between Cath’s love for writing Simon Snow fan fiction (this universe’s answer to Harry Potter), and everyone’s reaction to it. When I tell people about book blogging, I get almost identical response, so I found the jokes which spawned from this hilarious. Anyone who have had their love for fictional characters questioned by their peers or family? You need this book!
“Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and mildly socially retarded, I’m a complete disaster.”
It’s not all laughs, there are some truly profound and emotional moments in Fangirl – they’re what made the book shined! Along with Cath’s struggles with her anxiety, we also see her face an array of issues: trouble at home, an estranged sister, a father who needs help, along with an internal conflict to find herself. I am someone who despises books that set out to make you cry, but when I shed tears in Fangirl – it was because the book genuinely moved me. The emotions rang authentic, and the family scenes especially tugged at my heart strings. I don’t want to elaborate too much on the details, as they are best experienced by going into the book blind. Just rest assured that you’ll be simultaneously smiling and crying all at once.
“I don’t have to forgive you,” Cath said. “It’s not like that with you. You’re just in with me. Always. No matter what happens.”
Fangirl is a book that does not hold back on love. First and foremost, it deals with the family ties between Cath, her father Art, and her twin sister Wren. I love these three, who have been inseparable since the twin’s mother left them behind. The changes in their dynamic due to college broke my heart, I wanted to reach into the pages and squish them all together. There’s the love Cath has for writing, especially about Simon and Baz. She’s dedicated to writing in a way I think many budding authors would find relatable. Finally, there’s Cath’s romance- which I won’t spoil for you, but it’s guaranteed to keep you grinning all week!
“I’m just really active in the fandom.”
“What the fuck is ‘the fandom’?”
One of my favourite aspect of Fangirl is the way it understands the passion that comes with fandoms. Cath is one of the big name fans in the Simon Snow world, with thousands of hits on her fanfiction each chapter. For her and many others, Simon Snow is ‘a lifestyle’ – that includes fanwork, tshirts, posters, and all the love and tears and dramas that comes with fangirling. If you’ve ever been involved in a fandom like Harry Potter, The Mortal Instrument, or any other huge book series, you would 100% feel at home in Fangirl. I love watching Cath trying to reconcile her daily life with her love for Simon Snow. As a grown adult who still flew to the bookstore and felt all teary when I picked up the Illustrated edition of Harry Potter – I was 100% of Cath’s side. I also adored the smart parody with the fandom: how fans eventually create work of their own, how they feel they own the characters – more than the author does. There’s also the eternal gratitude to the author that created such a world for them to play in. Fangirl reminded me of the love I felt for all my previous fandoms, and for that, I want to squish it.
Sorry for this insanely bias review, but this book pretty much ate my heart. Have you read it? What did you think? You haven’t read it? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
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