15 November 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Bought
Rating: ★★★★

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?

“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”

I read Fangirl on a whim; I'd really enjoyed Eleanor & Park so I was pretty intrigued to see whether Fangirl would be as good. I still prefer Eleanor & Park, mostly because it deals with more serious issues, but Fangirl is, I think, a very cute novel that is so much fun to read.

So Fangirl is basically about a pair of twin sisters who at first seem very different. Cath, our main character, is an introvert with a talent for writing; she is deeply involved with the Simon Snow fandom i.e. the book's version of Harry Potter, and the novel is interspersed with sections of her own fanfiction. Wren, once as big a fan of Simon Snow as Cath, now enjoys going out, partying and flirting with boys. There's also romance, within Cath's real life and in her fanfiction, a love story about Simon i.e. Harry Potter and Baz i.e. Draco Malfoy, which is just the best tbh. Cath's family also plays a big part in the story - her relationship with her twin sister Wren but also with their father adds more background to an otherwise sweet, light story.

I have to say that the fanfiction aspect of this novel really drew me in. I loved it so much - the depiction of fandom is portrayed accurately without even a hint of judgement. Cath's love of Simon Snow goes deeper than obsession - it's a way for her to interact with her surroundings and it provides her with an escape from a world she sometimes finds difficult to live in. I think it was very clever for Rowell to make Cath a writer because writing is such a solitary task for so many people - it's an escape, a way to explore the world and push boundaries that you wouldn't necessarily be able to within the limits of real life and fanfiction is just an extension of that. I love fanfiction, you guys. I've been reading it pretty much since the day I realised it was a thing (God bless the day I found ff.net t b h) and Cath's over the top, often ridiculous yet sweet and touching fanfiction feels true to what fic is actually like. And the fact that Cath writes slash fic? GLORIOUS.

Honestly, this book is such a lovely homage to fandom that it touches me. It's a story about growing up but I really like that Cath, by the end of the book, realises it doesn't have to be one or the other. She can have a life while still being involved in the things she loves and to me at least that's what growing up is really about. Being comfortable in your own skin and not worrying about what anyone thinks of you. So yeah, I loved it and would recommend it to everybody *nods*

Let me leave you with probably my favourite passage from Fangirl:

“Cath ran her fingers along the cover, over the raised gold type.

Then someone else ran right into her, pushing the book into Cath's chest. Pushing two books into her chest. Cath looked up just as Wren threw an arm around her.

"They're both crying," Cath heard Reagan say. "I can't even watch."

Cath freed an arm to wrap around her sister. "I can't believe it's really over," she whispered.

Wren held her tight and shook her head. She really was crying, too. "Don't be so melodramatic, Cath," Wren laughed hoarsely. "It's never over... It's Simon.”

Hahaha, I was not prepared for the emotions ;____________________;


  1. I love Rainbow Rowell, and what I really am impressed with is how different her books are from each other. I enjoyed both Eleanor & Park and Fangirl (and Attachments) but it's hard for me to say which was better, I really liked all of them. The characters in all of them are so fleshed out and complex and even the secondary characters are memorable. ~Pam

  2. I'm glad you liked it! The fanfiction/fandom aspects were awesome! I've been reading fanfic for longer than I care to reveal (I'm old) and seeing such a lovingly portrayed version of it was amazing. I also noticed that the passages seemed to set up or deal with a theme that the characters were going to deal with in the upcoming chapter. In addition to this being a really neat writerly trick, I had fun picking out the parallels (that or I made the whole thing up in my head, either way, it was cool)

    Have you checked out An Archive of Our Own? They're smaller than fanfiction.net, but I like their selection better.

  3. I hope to read this one
    i love eleanor&park

  4. I haven't read this book or Eleanor & Park yet! I've heard nothing but good things about both books, so I really need to get started on them. :) Glad you enjoyed this one, even if not as much as Eleanor & Park. I'm excited to check them both out!

  5. This book sounds great! I've been hearing so many good things about this author, but her other work doesn't sound like my type of thing, but I really want to give this one a try :D I think I'll love that character development in Cath. I used to read and write fan fiction myself, so this is going to be fun!

  6. I had to buy the ebook of this recently because of the sheer amount or praise I was reading about it... I have very high expectations at this point!

  7. While for the most part I didn't really like the fanfiction in this book (it felt so disconnected from the rest of the story), that passage at the end made me cry because OH MY GOD HARRY POTTER. I loooove that this book describes just what fandoms can do to people. I've read/written so much HP fanfic and just. Yes. I also prefer E&P, but this book is just wonderful.


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