Review: Fangirl

Review: Fangirl
Fangirl
by Rainbow Rowell

Genres: Contemporary, Comedy, Romance, Young Adult
Publication date: 10 September 2013
by St Martin's Press

Format: Paperback

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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

Fangirl-001

“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.

Fangirl-02
“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!

Fangirl-003

“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.

Fangirl-004

“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!
Fangirl-005

“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?

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Romance
Impact
Overall: 4.7
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Aentee

Aentee

I'm Aentee, a 20-something lover of books and shiny things. By day, I attempt to prescribe books to all the patients in my optometry clinic. By night, I read books, watch TV, and spend way too much time on twitter.

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  1. says

    I agree to every point that you made. It is relatable, both about starting out in college and the need to burrow oneself in the fandom. I love the Harry Potter reference, the romance, the struggle to find footing in a strange, new world. Even the family drama moves me.

    Fangirl is the kind of book you’d shove in your friends’ face, or anyone for that matter, just because. I can fangirl (pun intended) about this all day, given the chance.

  2. Jennifer F. Santucci says

    I LOVED Fangirl. I loved how accurately Rainbow Rowell captured being a fangirl. (It made me wonder if Rainbow Rowell was a fangirl and what fandom she wrote for.) As someone who participated in several fandoms a long time ago, from major to minor books, the drama and passion of loving characters and their world was illustrated so well in this book.

    • AenteeAentee says

      I could totally relate to the fangirling aspect of this book as well. Though in my experience, the people in University were a LOT more understanding about this than the ones in high school. I totally hung out with the right crowd ;)

    • AenteeAentee says

      I am sorry to hear you don’t enjoy the rest of Rowell’s work, I hope to read Carry On soon and I have high hopes for it!!

  3. says

    I am so happy you enjoyed this one, Aentee. It really is an adorable read with a lot of heart. I especially love your paragraph on love of all kinds because it’s so true. The book explores all sorts of love and it made my heart so happy. I’ll admit to skipping the Simon fanfiction though because I just wanted to focus on Cath! I need to read Carry On soon!
    Lovely review, Aentee.
    Nick @ Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist recently posted…Audiobook Review: Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah FineMy Profile

    • AenteeAentee says

      The book was certainly a buffet on love, it made my heart all warm and fuzzy – definitely a read I’ll come back to if I need a pick me up! Hope you enjoy Carry On!

  4. says

    I just recently read this one too. I knew I would love it – and I did – so I hate that it took me so long. Ah well, I already have Carry On to read ASAP. I really related to this one too. I have a close bond with my family, I suffer from social anxiety (not as bad these days), I’m a huge nerd when it comes to fandoms and loving fictional characters (especially HP which is essentially Simon, so those aspects of the book were awesome to me too!).
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Found at the Library by Christi SnowMy Profile

    • AenteeAentee says

      I’m glad you ended up enjoying this as you anticipated! I also need to get onto Carry On, my reread of Memoirs of a Geisha is taking me way longer than expected XD

    • AenteeAentee says

      Thanks Hannah! I am glad you enjoyed this one as well! I am supremely awkward so I related to Cath’s uni life a lot, too!

    • AenteeAentee says

      Glad to hear you also enjoyed it! It seems to be one of those universally loved titles, and so well deserved too!

  5. says

    You know… when I saw this book’s name all I could think was NOPE, but then I started to read reviews, and they all mention how funny and relatable it is. I love when characters are easy to relate with, and parodies about Harry Potter… as much as I loved the books, I find the parodies just as great. I’m curious again. Fantastic review, Aentee! :)
    Vane @ Books With Chemistry recently posted…Review: The Library at Mount Char – the most bizarre book I have readMy Profile

  6. says

    Gorgeous review, Aentee! You write lists review into perfection. I absolutely love this format and your quotes. I haven’t read Fangirl, and I admit the reason is fandom aspect, since I don’t have such personal experience. You definitely made me reconsider my decision. You mentioned so many things that I love in books. PS. Maybe another contemporary to read?
    Ksenia @ Ksenia’s Book Blog recently posted…Audio Obsession #4. To read or to listen?My Profile

  7. says

    I’m so weary about this book. On the one hand, I read it in a relatively short amount of time, on the other hand, I couldn’t really connect with either of the main characters and absolutely hated having to read her fan fiction chapters. I love that there are more and more books exploring fan culture nowadays, but this one just wasn’t for me. I completely get why people love it though.
    Jen @ The Bookavid recently posted…Book Blogging Tips (#22): The First Impression – What Does a Good Blog Have?My Profile

  8. says

    I’m actually totally guilty and I’ve never read this hyped up book yet but maybe that’s the reason why: because it’s so hyped up ? Idk. But I can’t help but want to read it agree reading your review because you can always convince me to give it a try out.
    ♡♡ and I wouldn’t say I have social anxiety exactly but I def feel awkward and stuff when meeting new peeps. ♡
    [email protected] Hearts Books recently posted…PFFT. It’s Jennifer L. Armentrout. OF COURSE, I Shall Eat It. ^^Wishlist WednesdayMy Profile

  9. says

    I didn’t like this as much as you did Aentee, but I’m glad to hear you loved it so much. :) I agree that its reliability and the incorporation of Harry Potter and fanfiction into the story was really clever and creative. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ♥
    Zoe @ Stories on Stage recently posted…The Rose SocietyMy Profile

  10. says

    Aentee I fell for this book so hard too, it was actually my favourite book by Rowell, I think one of the main reasons for this was because I could relate to Cath’s character so well. I adored how Rowell managed to give us loads of happy and fun scenes, but also deal with some tough issues pretty well too. I also think that one of my favourite fictional crushes is in this book too ;) Wonderful review!
    Jasprit recently posted…Review: It Felt Like a Kiss by Sarra ManningMy Profile

  11. says

    I am now officially the only person who hasn’t read this. I’ll get there, I will. Hey, I bought the book and this review like so many countless others gives me so much to look forward to!

  12. says

    I loved this book so much, it just…filled me up with all the fangirl feels I ever had. But it was more than that, and gosh, I just love it.

    I finished reading Carry On today and I think I love it even more after that lol just the whole world Rainbow Rowell created around the fandom and then she made the fandom and hearts in my eyes *sigh*
    Wattle recently posted…Book Review: Treasured Lies by Kendall TalbotMy Profile

  13. says

    Yes to everything you just said. Omg Levi was adorbs with his constant Starbucks and his weird inability to read anything :) He’s so caring and nice and OMG I NEED ONE. (Cath and Levi have a small cameo at the end of Landline, if that will entice you to read more contemporary). I’m so glad that you loved Fangirl (and that you got so excited about it that you ran and recommended it to me HAHA). This was one of the first books I read when I was getting back into reading and I stayed up until 4:30am reading this. I ordered Carry On so I’m excited to see how Simon and Baz’s story plays out <3
    Jenna recently posted…One Lovely Blog Award + Some Special NewsMy Profile

  14. says

    SAME EXACT THOUGHTS AENTEE.

    At the time of reading Fangirl, I thought that it was such a unique concept because NONE OF THE OTHER BOOKS I had read at the time even mentioned fanfiction or fandoms, which is crazy because it is so common. So I totally connected to the story and Cath, and I loved it.

    Awesome review Aentee!!
    Valerie recently posted…ARC Review: Fire FallingMy Profile

  15. says

    I have to agree with you so much!! I ADOOOORED FANGIRL and I’ve continued to love it in a pair of subsequent re-reads! I adore Cath and I loved how relatable and wonderful the whole book was! And Simon Snow!! I still need to read Carry On because I loved the SImon Snow bits that were in the beginning of the chapters!!
    Pili @ In Love With Handmade recently posted…Saturday Pages: Mini Reviews for Maxon and Portia by Christina Bauer!My Profile

Trackbacks

  1. […] Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: I don’t usually read contemporary, in fact – Fangirl is one of about 4-5 I read this year. Nonetheless, the sincerity of its characters won it a space in my heart. It captures the emotional roller coaster that is college perfectly, never forgetting humour, family and love. My review. […]