Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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 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.