Monday, November 25, 2013

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Monday, November 25, 2013
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Series: Standalone
Age Group: YA
Source: Bought
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? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Summary from Goodreads.

I can't say I've read much fan fiction, though I am a fangirl. Harry Potter defined my childhood (and I have the posters, Time Turners, Snitches, Hedwigs, and multiple copies of the books to prove it) so I could really relate to Cath in that aspect. And Fangirl has definitely piqued my interest in fanfic as I loved reading Cath's Simon/Baz chapters. Even though it's technically Simon Snow fanfic, it made me want to read Harry Potter fanfic ASAP. The best part about the inclusion of the actual fan fiction in the story, though, is how it parallels Cath's journey. It's not just the fanfic either, but the excerpts from the "actual" Simon Snow books, all of which combines to create a medley of awesome.

But that's enough about the fan fiction, I think. Let's talk about my favorite part, instead: The Characters.

First, of course, is Cath. I don't know that I've ever read a book with a character like her- she doesn't really fit into any of the YA protagonist stereotypes. She is so scared of change and new people (though her reasons are understandable and sympathetic) that with a less skilled writer, Cath could have been passive, but Rowell makes her jump off the page.

One character that really surprised me (in the best possible way) is Reagan, Cath's roommate. She's brutally blunt and the polar opposite of Cath, and yet their friendship just clicks. The relationships throughout Fangirl are all so complex and complicated and, well, lifelike.

What's really special about Fangirl is the family dynamic. Not only is Cath's dad a single parent, but they are coping with the backlash of a mom who abandoned them. Rowell fully explores Cath's relationship with her dad and with her twin sister, Wren. Wren's development revealed so many sides to her, some of which I didn't necessarily expect.

And then (and then, yes, we can talk about something other than characters, but they're all so good that I can't help it!!!) there's Levi. Reagan's best friend who is bouncy and ultra-personable and charming and super smiley. Levi who may just be one of my biggest book crushes ever. I really don't want to talk about his friendship with Cath too much because it's so special and I don't want to ruin your reading experience (!), but I will say that there should be more people like Levi in the world.

But with all of these relationships and subplots, the most important part is always Cath's personal journey. Fangirl is, at heart, a coming-of-age story, one made all the better with its setting: college. I think this is the first YA book I've read since the 4th Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books that takes place after high school and I LOVED it.

Since this is rapidly turning into a fairly long review, I'm going to start wrapping things up, but please, GO GET A COPY OF FANGIRL. You won't be able to put it down, you'll fall in love with the characters, and you'll fall in love with the book!
*5 stars*
A Quote from the Book: "Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can’t quite keep up with gravity."

What settings would you like to see in YA books more?


  1. After reading this book, I kind of wanted to read the Simon Snow books. Highly enjoyable story.

    1. Right? I feel like Simon Snow would fill the HP void.

  2. I really enjoyed this book and the characters definitely made it special. The author did such a good job of creating complex, unique, interesting, and realistic characters. I was sympathetic toward Cath, although I did want to yell at her to just go to the dining hall, already. And like you, I loved Reagan and though she was just the perfect roommate for Cath. And Levi...Levi...oh Levi. I loved him, then I was quite mad at him, then I was hopeful again. He was what Cath needed. I could just picture him smiling all the time. Great review! ~Pam

    1. Haha I wanted to yell at her for the dining hall thing, too, though I understand that she is so INCREDIBLY shy. AND LEVI'S SMILE. <333

  3. I feel like everybody is talking about this book! It frustrates me to no end that I still don't own a copy and most of all that I haven't read it yet... even more so after reading your review! The worst part is that I actually promised myself that I'd purchase no more books until I've finished the others on my shelf 0_o
    Frustrations of a book nerd ...

    1. Ugh, I've been there. There's just too many books and not enough time/money! haha

  4. I love this book. I think I'm like you and was never into fanfics but kinda involved in fandoms. I was in such a reading slump before reading Fangirl and it got me right out of it.

    1. It's definitely the type of book that hooks you. Glad you're out of your reading slump!

  5. THIS BOOK. So great... I bought it for two friends for their birthday. I just had to. I would love love to see a book about Reagan. She was such a vibrant character! I love authors who are careful with their supporting cast too. It helps us to learn more about the main character so yay for that. Rainbow is just too awesome. ha

    1. Seriously, she's an amazingly talented writer. Supporting casts can make or break a book, sometimes, but everything about Fangirl was awesome!

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