“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t google.) Like, where does the line start? What food can you take? Where are you supposed to stand, then where are you supposed to sit? Where do you go when you’re done, why is everyone watching you?… Bah.”
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?
I wasn’t going to write a full review on Fangirl for my blog because it isn’t a recent release, however when I started writing up my mini-review for bookstagram, the words just came pouring out and I had too many for an instagram caption.
Fangirl is my second Rainbow Rowell and has solidified my opinion of her writing that I began to form after I read Eleanor & Park – that she writes quirky, complex characters, and puts them into some interesting scenes that are enjoyable to read. However upon finishing a Rainbow Rowell book, I end up feeling like something was missing to tie all those quirky characters and scenes together into a bigger picture idea.
I did enjoy Fangirl more than E&P because I completely related to Cath as an introvert with social anxiety. I found myself nodding vigorously at some of the humorous situations her anxiety got her into because it’s so damn true. Like agonizing over the details of a first time experience; where do you line up in the cafeteria, where do you sit? What if you do it wrong?
I felt a lot of nostalgia reading this one because it captured the pop culture and fashion of the exact years when I was starting college. From black Ray Ban frames to Bon Iver and Lady Gaga, and of course the Harry Potter references (or the fictional fandom of Simon Snow). It was like a perfect little time capsule for late 80’s kids like me.
There were a couple of characters who irked me, but mostly just Levi. Levi is such a puppy, and I’m totally not a dog person. He literally just smiles and wags his tail at everyone all day long. I couldn’t understand why Cath forgave him for his big, lame mess-up either – I definitely wouldn’t have. I’m also not a fan (see what I did there…) of the trope “girl with low self-esteem captures the attention of a good looking boy and then she gains the confidence she needs to tackle her problems”. Levi is a total “manic pixie dream boy” for Cath and I wasn’t into it.
There was also a lot of seemingly pointless excerpts of fanfiction. I did enjoy much of it, but after a while I admit I skimmed through it. If there was some symbolic connection between the little scraps of Cath’s stories and the main plot, I didn’t pick up on it and I didn’t really care enough to dig.
My rating: 3.5/5 stars
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Young adult, contemporary