Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 


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?


Review

This book had me very excited and also very worried before I’d even received a copy.  I’d had so many fellow bloggers rave at me about Rainbow Rowell for yonks and after reading Eleanor and Parks, I was left unsatisfied.  I was expecting so much more because of all the raving comments and I’d enjoyed it but not to the same level as my fellow readers.  There’s nothing wrong with that but when I heard about Fangirl, I REALLY needed this book to be as good as the premise sounded.  It was my life, to an extent.

Fangirl is about twin sisters, but told from the point of view of Cath (one of the pair), who is a famed internet sensation for her fan fiction stories about a well known book series. Cath is consumed with her fan fiction and when the twins go off to college, Cath is separated from her Dad, twin sister and routine and has to learn to live in the real world.  She has to learn how to make her writing work for college, how to interact with people other than her sister and how to cope with life.  

I feel, big time, for this book because the story leapt off the page as if it were true.  There are probably thousands of fic writers out there, trying to balance real world and fanfic world and the are more than thousands of college students struggling to find their feet in the world without parents and routines.  I was just as awkward and shy as Cath at that age and was a big lover of fan fiction and Fangirl is a book I would have loved just as much then, as I did now.  

I loved the clever interweaving of the fan fiction exerts into the book to hint at what was to come in the chapters ahead, I really loved the cast of characters that were all so bold and real and I really loved the romance and how that played out.  My one gripe, and it’s fairly big IMO, is the ending.  It isn’t what happens at the end, rather the way it ends.  It stops rather sharply and so much so that I thought some pages were missing from my edition.  I’m all for taking the audience by surprise but this didn’t work for me.  I just didn’t feel right.  I know others have said they liked it and it worked for them; leaving them with a sense of mystery about the future ahead of the characters, but I like a bit more conclusion than I got I’m afraid.

All in all, a super book that will tick all the boxes for the fangirls (and boys) out there, plus it was lovely to read YA with a character in college and that bit older for a change.  

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books in the UK and is available online and in bookshops now

3 Comments

  1. Actually, the ending is rather clever, IMO. Take another look at the extract from Cath's published story at the end and think about her opinion of the way Nick writes. Very cheeky! More I will not say lest I spoil it for your readers who haven't read this book. I was a fan writer for many years, before the Internet add t so easy, and I could really relate to the problems Cath had with her other writing.

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