Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published on September 10th 2013
Source: Barnes and Nobles
Rating: 4.5 stars
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?
This isn’t exactly a rare thing. It’s about time someone wrote a book on it.
Oh my goodness, this book.
I very much enjoyed this book the whole time I read it. It’s an easy read that doesn’t require too much effort, energy, or thinking. It’s just one of those books you can sit down and absorb mindlessly.
Fangirl is a realistic fiction book, which is not a genre I’m used to. I generally read one of two kinds of books: dystopian, futuristic, dark and depressing books, like The Giver, or fantasy, swords-and magic-filled books like The False Prince and Harry Potter. This book caught my attention because it’s about a girl who reads those sorts of books. Cather Avery obsesses over the Simon Snow series, which is the Harry Potter of this fictional universe. She collects posters and commemorative busts, she judges the people who have seen the movies and haven’t bothered with the books, and she writes gay fanfiction. This is a character that I’ve met in real life but never seen in a book before. Also, I’ve heard good things about Eleanor and Park by the same author.
Before I launch into my rants about how good this book is, I’ll start by explaining why it didn’t get 5 stars. Several of the characters like to express themselves by swearing. Like, the f bomb. A lot. Most of the time it was completely unnecessary. Also, there were sexual references and situations throughout. It never got too bad, but it was there nonetheless. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Now the good stuff… oh where do I start…
Cath. Cath was a really, really well written character. She’s a character I want to show all the other authors and use as an example of a good character. Cath is introverted and socially awkward. She’s really smart, but is slow to let anyone in the walls she’s built around her. She’s responsible and aware of her surroundings, but never distracted by them. She doesn’t succumb to peer pressure, but tends to lock out her peers instead. When she loves something, she really loves it, and she struggles to read people. Cather Avery is a three-dimensional, realistic, relatable character. She has real flaws and strengths. Possibly the farthest thing from a Mary-Sue I’ve ever read.
I fell in and out of love with Levi as I read. There were times when I was smiling my face off at the cute things he did and times where I hated how far he let things get in his relationship with an unstable freshman. I felt he took advantage of people sometimes. Honestly, I think I feel the same way many of the characters feel about Levi: confused.
Rainbow Rowell did some excellent pieces of writing in Fangirl. Since it is a book that focuses on the life of a Fiction-Writing major, she had to write Cath’s, Nick’s, and occasionally Wren’s stories. She also wrote every excerpt of Simon Snow that appears between chapters. Somehow, Rowell managed to give each of her character’s writings a different tone, so that you could tell which character was writing it without looking. She could distinguish the words of four different characters while keeping them all from sounding like the narrative. That’s pretty freaking impressive, and it was done so well that you wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t sitting down, writing a review.
The little pieces of Simon Snow, Carry On, Simon, and other bits of Cath’s fics might have been my favorite part of the book. They were almost always used to foreshadow something that was going to happen to a main character later. Cath’s fanfics were her version of a diary. They recorded her thoughts and feelings for us to see, but you had to look a little harder than you would in a normal diary. They were a great addition to the book.
The way this book ended was great too. There were several story lines going on in Fangirl: Cath’s love life, her relationship with Wren, her parents, her fic, and her Fiction-Writing class. Usually, authors tell you what happens in the end. Katniss and Peeta got married and had kids, Ron and Hermione and Harry and Ginny send their kids off to a Voldemort-free Hogwarts. Not this book. Cath’s story isn’t anywhere close to finished. The book gives you some idea of where everything stands, but it ends in such a way as to not spoil it. This was a concept actually explained in the book, it being a book about writers. The author writes their portion to get you started, then hands the notebook to you to finish for yourself. I have my own ending for Fangirl, and you will have yours.
My only criticism is the abundance of love scenes. There were a lot of things going on in Cath’s life, and Rowell chose to emphasize her love life. I would have liked to see more of Cath’s relationship with her mother. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to write that into my ending.
~Cheshire Cat ya’ll