Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell [book review]

Fangirl coverFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon
Release Date: September 10th 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Series: none

Goodreads description: 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

I spent a while in a pretty big fandom. I wish it had been Harry Potter, but unfortunately, it was a bit more embarrassing than that! It was after I had dropped out of college and was having a rough time. I met people from all across the country and world. I made really good friends, many of whom I still talk to all the time. I read fanfiction, but I never wrote it. So, Fangirl book seemed like it might be something I could connect with. I wasn’t really a fan of Eleanor & Park (and I’ve seen other reviews that have confirmed I’m not the only one, so please don’t gasp at me) but I still felt optimistic about this one.

Cather is the main character and narrator of the book. She’s a twin, and her sister’s name is Wren. I actually kind of liked the name thing. Like other twins I’ve read about and some I’ve known (I’ve never actually known identical twins. I’ve met some, but I’ve been friends with sets and singles of non-identical twins), the twins are pretty different. The twins are going to college for their freshman year, and they have different plans. Wren plans to party and doesn’t want to room with her sister. Cath doesn’t understand and wants things to stay the same.

Cath is quiet and shy. She’s very anxious about making new friends. She’s too nervous to go to the cafeteria. She feels weird about her roommate, Reagan and her maybe-boyfriend Levi. There were some levels that I could really identify with Cath on, but I never grew to love her. I could relate to a lot of her anxiety issues, and some of it felt painfully close to things I’ve been through.  I loved the family interactions, and how difficult it was, it felt realistic. I really liked Cath’s roommate Reagan. A lot of the college experiences seemed realistic, and some of them were fun to read about.

Cath uses fandom to cope with things that happen in real life. She writes fan fiction, and she’s hugely popular. It’s obvious that Simon Snow = Harry Potter. I can completely understand using fandom or any online community to get away from real life. I didn’t really care enough about any of her fanfic to read it in the book. Cath did have a tendency to hide from her problems, and she definitely made some mistakes. She clung pretty stubbornly to things, and I think she knew she was making a mistake. I liked that she was able to deal with her problems and she had, support, plus she was able to give support to others when it was needed. I do feel like she learned a lot and made a lot of progress.

I’m not sure how I feel about Levi. But something about him just felt weird to me. Maybe it’s the cowboy thing that a lot of people seem to love. I’m from a small town in Oklahoma, and I’ve lived on a farm and knew tons of FFA kids, ropers and other kids that grew up on farms. There isn’t anything inherently better about them. They aren’t always nice. They’re just people. Sometimes they are really nice and charming, but it isn’t a given. In books, sometimes it feels like a given and that feels weird to me. Levi seemed genuinely nice to me. He was sweet to Cath, and there were some swoony moments. I never felt very attached to him, though.

3 star rating

I liked Fangirl. It was entertaining, and there were pieces I really enjoyed. I didn’t think it was groundbreaking. I actually think I might want to read it again at some point, maybe if I read it later and it isn’t uber-hyped anymore I might be able to enjoy it more. Even though I haven’t loved either of the Rainbow Rowell books I’ve read, there’s still something about the books that draws me in, and I want to read more of her writing.

Check out Rainbow Rowell’s website and twitter!