Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

From Goodreads:

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

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?

Rating: 5 stars – because apparently that’s the maximum allowed ;)

I should probably start this review by saying that I adore Rainbow Rowell and she can do no wrong in my book. I have read all of her books and I am pretty much one of those “crazies” obsessing over the release of Carry On. With that said, Fangirl is my absolute favorite Rainbow Rowell book! I went through a phase when I might have went a bit overboard and made Fangirl inspired shoes and necklaces and wore them everywhere. I drove everyone insane with constantly talking about the book, buying it as gifts, and then harassing everyone to read it. To all those affected by my undying love of Fangirl, I am sorry. But also, you are welcome; I know your life is now much better having read this fantastic book.

I first read Fangirl last year, but at that time I wasn’t blogging so I never wrote a review for it. Since then I re-read the book multiple times and my love for the book only increases with each read. I recently borrowed the audiobook from the library and listened to it on repeat a few times and just like that my obsession returned with a vengeance. :D

This is a young adult contemporary novel with new adult elements, unlike anything I’ve read before. It is a character driven novel and Rowell created very memorable, relatable, and endearing characters. The book is narrated from Cath Avery’s point of view and it takes us on an epic journey of her first year of college. The story focuses on Cath’s relationships and just coping with life in general. The story begins with Cath moving in the dorm at University of Nebraska, a different dorm than her twin sister Wren. During the summer before college, Wren told Cath that she wants to live with someone else and get some separation. Cath struggles with this and we soon find out just how opposite the two twins are. Cath is an introvert while Wren is an extrovert. Although Wren is not around for some parts of the book, we still get quick glimpses into her personality and character. Wren is trying to change her ways by distancing herself from “childish” fandoms and constant fanfiction. Cath on the other hand cannot leave behind the world of Simon Snow, a replacement of sorts for the Harry Potter world. I loved the fact that at the core of the story Cath was a socially awkward nerd, with lots of social anxiety, and while she developed over the course of her freshman year she remained a nerd and maintained her personal identity. She didn’t change who she was in order to please others, she didn’t get a makeover, and she didn’t become a social butterfly; she remained true to herself. Cath is very quirky, fun, loyal, smart, and extremely witty. She spends most of her time in her dorm room writing fanfiction. She writes fanfiction for Simon Snow and in the fanfic community her pen name, Magicath, is followed by thousands of fans that hang on to her every word. It’s almost like the socially awkward nerd that she is in real life ceases to exist when she enters the fanfic world.

“To really be a nerd, she'd decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.” 

I can’t say much about the story without ruining it. All I can say is that there are many secondary characters that are introduced as the story moves along and that they are all very well developed. The twins’ parents provide some insight into the way they grew up and explain many aspects of their personalities and how they developed. While both had the same issues with their parents, those problems shaped the girls in very different ways. The novel touched on very important issues, like drinking, mental illness, and abandonment in a very realistic way. I liked the fact that Rowell explored Cath’s relationship with her father and her mother. In most YA novels it seems like the parents are some abstract characters that are never involved with their teen’s life. There was a lot of family drama and there were situations when my heart broke for Cath, but there was also hope and romance; the best kind of romance that I grew to always expect from Rowell. There is no insta-love to be found in this book. The romance aspect is beautifully written and it describes all the terrifying emotions that come when falling in love for the first time. However, even though there is romance is the book, the main focus of the novel is not the romance aspect but rather Cath’s coming of age, finding herself, and being independent. 

“I don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off.”

Rowell’s writing is absolutely flawless. The pace of the novel was perfect allowing us to embark with Cath on an epic journey of her entire freshman year. Nothing was rushed; Rowell took her time in developing not only her characters, but also the relationships they share. Each and every relationship that develops as the book progresses is extremely deep and beautifully written.

“‘I always get lost in the library’, he said,’no matter how many times I go. In fact, I think I get lost there more, the more that I go. Like it’s getting to know me and revealing new passages’’”.

I think that Fangirl was written as an encouragement for fans everywhere. It captures the good and the bad; the freedom and happiness we find in our fandoms, and the hardships we as fans endure at the hands of those who like to put us down. It encourages us to keep doing what makes us happy regardless of people telling us that we should “grow out” of it and leave it behind. There are many book characters I can relate to, but never has a character resonated with me as much as Cath.

“No," Cath said, "Seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.” 

As I was writing this review I found myself struggling with picking the right words to describe the magnificence of Fangirl. Rainbow Rowell is a remarkable storyteller with an astonishing ability to develop unforgettable characters.  All I can say is that if you are a fan of anything, belong to a fandom big or small, this is the book for you. You are going to love it!

Lastly, when you finish this book, especially if you belong to a fandom and write fanfiction, make sure to read the acknowledgements. It will warm your heart! Thank you Rainbow Rowell for the great gift of Fangirl!


  1. I adore this book as well. I love the shows and necklace! So adorable. I did the same thing getting a book I loved as a gift over and over to others trying to convince them to read it ASAP!

  2. It was great spreading the love for this book.
    I've been listening to the audiobook quite often these days. It's just one of those books that make me feel good :)