Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Posted September 11, 2014 by Inge in Reviews / 13 Comments

Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
on 2013-09-10
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 448

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?

One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Fangirl is the story of Cather Avery. She writes fanfiction for Simon Snow, a magical book series that enchants millions of readers all over the world. She’s very good at it, too. What she’s not good at is socialising. When she and her twin sister Wren go to college and Wren decides to ditch her for a social life, Cath finds it very hard to get comfortable. There’s her roommate, who has a very likeable boyfriend, a handsome writing buddy, and her sick dad to worry about. Will she be able to handle it all?

I thought this was a very cute read. I could really relate to Cath and her social awkwardness. I like to think that I’m not as bad as her (with her stuffing granola bars under her bed so she doesn’t have to face the dining hall), but I am all for turning down party invites to just be alone in my room, doing whatever. I’d much rather read a good book or spend time on Goodreads.

I also loved the relationships. Cath and her dad – her dad was the cutest. A little confused, but he really meant well. Cath and Wren – how they used to be so close, but now Wren chooses parties and getting drunk over her twin sister, and the relationship becomes very complicated. Then there’s Cath and Levi, who are honestly adorable. Levi’s such a sweetheart and he respects her boundaries, which I really appreciated.

For some reason, I was surprised that Harry Potter was mentioned. I just sort of assumed that the Simon Snow series was a replacement for Harry Potter. You know, orphan boy goes to a magical boarding school, has a school nemesis and an enemy, a very bright girl for a best friend… it reeked of Harry Potter. Between every chapter there were excerpts from the Simon Snow world, either from the original series or Cath’s fan fiction, and it just sounded really… weird. I’m all for magical boarding schools, but I don’t think they’d be as popular as the Harry Potter series.

What I did have a problem with was the way fangirls are portrayed and the message it conveys. Look, I’m socially awkward. I get that. But we’re not all weird freaks. And we don’t just throw our love away when a pretty boy comes along. From the moment Cath starts being interested in boys, her fandom kind of dies away. She has no more time to write fanfiction because she has to be with a boy, and the ultimate message of this book is “Go find yourself a boyfriend because it’s so much better than your fictional worlds”. Just… thanks for that. Really nice.

Then there’s the writing. Solid writing overall, but some stuff was really weird:

“God, his chin. She wanted to make an honest woman of his chin.”

“And the sight of him made her eyes burn right down to her throat.”

There are many more gems like this to find, but I didn’t write them down. I think you get the idea, though.

It’s a nice coming-of-age story, but I’m not quite sure why there’s such a hype around this book. Sure, it’s cute, but it’s not perfect. It has quite a few flaws. The relationships really save this book. The contemporary aspects. If you’re looking for a geeky fangirl story, this isn’t it.

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13 responses to “Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

  1. I felt the same about Harry Potter. Simon Snow definitely felt like a replacement and it was strange to picture them both in the same world.

    It’s interesting how you saw the way she stopped writing so much – I actually interpreted it a lot differently. Cath grew into her own life and her own writing, and I think that was why she didn’t pay so much attention to her fan fiction. It just wasn’t her entire life anymore.

    • I agree with Katie here. I felt like it represented her finally becoming more secure with who she is and who she can be. And it shows us that overcoming social anxiety is possible – hard, but possible.

      Other than that, I would say that I only liked the book. It’s definitely not Rainbow Rowell’s strongest piece of fiction. It was just okay.

      I’d have to say I only liked it because Cath is very much like me, so I kind of felt like I was reading about myself and my own college experience. It was eerily similar, except that instead of me writing fanfiction, I just perused Tumblr a lot.

      • Now that I think about it, that’s probably how I was supposed to interpret it, yes. I think I interpreted it another way because I had different expectations of the book.

        So far, I’ve read Attachments and Fangirl. They were both okay, but not amazing. I don’t see the hype so far.

        I tend to stay away from Tumblr, because I don’t need any more distractions hahaha. I only use it if I’m looking for particular gifs. My college experience is incredibly awkward as well, so I could really relate to Cath. Give me a quiet night at home over a party any day.

    • I thought it was strange as well. They were nearly the same series (only Harry Potter was superior, of course). I found it hard to imagine them living side by side, and just as popular as HP.

      I’m sure you are right about your interpretation and that it was meant to be positive for Cath. I just kind of took it as a big “fuck you” to fictional worlds.

  2. Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

    I really liked this one. But I hated the inclusion of the fan fiction, I kept skipping over those parts, it was kind of annoying to me, I wanted Cath’s story not the fan fiction.

    • I agree. I think the fan fiction and the Simon Snow excerpts weren’t as good as they could have been. And I don’t think they’d ever be as big as Harry Potter.

  3. I keep thinking about buying this book and then going meh when I read the reviews!

    I LOVE that chin line hahahaha that’s hilarious what the eff? And what’s that about her eyes? That doesn’t sound healthy. 😀 It might be worth reading the book just for those weird lines.

    • It’s filled with little things like that, which take you out of the story momentarily to have a giggle fit 😀 It really is a cute story though, you should give it a try.

  4. I definitely agree that there are flaws in this book, but I still love it to pieces. Mainly because it’s a book pretty much written about me, with some changes here and there.

    I just related so much to Cath and that really got to me on an emotional level.

    Now that you mention it, there is a bit of ‘the real world is more important’ aspect but I really didn’t see that when I read it. Being such a fangirl myself, I’d never ditch my fandoms or stop writing fanfic because I met a boy.

    I thought it was a bit odd that Harry Potter was mentioned, too, because I legitimately thought Simon Snow was some alternate universe HP, haha.

    The relationships really are gold in this novel, and I guess that’s another reason why I love it so much. This book isn’t perfect but the way it made me feel is perfect (it takes a lot for a book to give me all the ~feels).

    Greta review ;D (Especially the weird quotes. I remember being a bit O.o about them, haha).

    • Oh yes, I could really relate to Cath as well. I think that’s why I took it so personally when she abandoned the fandoms, because, like you said, I could never do that. Haha yes, the quotes! They were amazing. It was definitely a good book overall!

  5. I really enjoyed Fangirl (I’m working on my own review), and I didn’t mind things that bothered you. I didn’t feel like she lost her fangirl identity when she met a boy. I think it was inevitable that she come out of her fanfiction haze at some point (then again, I don’t approve of fanfiction). And it’s not like she completely abandoned Simon. She still went to the midnight release of the final book, and read it with the new boyfriend. Then again, I’m not at all (and never was) much of a fangirl, it was just a story to me. I can see how if I were more like Cath I may be irritated with the whole boy trumps lifelong love of Simon Snow thing.

    • I don’t really read fanfiction either, but I definitely prefer fictional words over the one we’re in. So I guess I kind of took it personally when she decided to leave all that for a boy. She didn’t abandon it completely, but I still felt annoyed. But apart from that, I really liked the story.

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