Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl From the author the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park

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?

(Summary from GoodReads)


Until I found myself able to download an electronic galley, I was desperate to get my hands on Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  I loved Rowell’s debut, Eleanor and Park, and I had to have this one, even though I wasn’t sure if it sounded quite like my thing.  As it turns out I had no reason to worry.  Fangirl is a stunning coming of self story of a college girl and a novel that showcases Rowell as a master of her craft.

Most people are familiar with the idea of a fangirl.  I have been a fangirl, and I’m guessing that at some point, you’ve been one two.  So have our mothers, ex-boyfriends, friends, etc.  I thought about referring to Fangirl as a coming of age story, but it’s more than that.  In this story, Cath has to learn who she is without the real and fictional people around her.

Fangirl takes place as Cath and her twin sister, Wren, start college, and man does it have a lot going on.  Cath struggles with a lot of things during this transition: her parents, her classes, her love life, anxiety about campus life, and her relationship with Wren. This mess of problems completely works because it feels true to real life.  Cath’s world is messy and complicated, and at the end we have hope that all will work out, but nothing is certain.

I know some people have complained that some characters, even Cath, feel underdeveloped because there are so many issues.  An important factor to keep in mind is that Rowell is aiming to connect with her reader.  Fangirl is not just a novel that sits on your shelf and has pretty words, it begs you to feel what its characters are feeling.

Rowell has written a story here that is deeply relatable.  Throughout the story, Cath has to deal with a lot of things that she can change, and if she should change them.  Will she be happier if she stops eating in her room and goes to the dining hall instead?  How should she deal with the guy in her writing class?   However, she also has to face a lot of outside factors that she can’t control, and it’s hard.

Of course, there are love interests, and of course, they are swoon-worthy.  I don’t feel a deep need to expound because I know it’ll get a lot of attention from other reviewers.  I will simply tell that I think that the person who Cath ends up with plays an important role in helping Cath become who she is, but never in a way that feels excessive or manipulative.

Clearly, I loved Fangirl.  It’s rare that I can find so many things to say about a book I love, because normally, I wind up incoherent.  However, Rowell’s writing here is brilliant, and there are many nuances to pick apart.  I long to discuss this novel with a book club.  Fangirl deserves a place on your must-read list, and Rowell has earned a permanent spot on my auto-buy list.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  Thanks!

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Chick Loves Lit
Wastepaper Prose


  1. I'm reading Eleanor and Park right now, and I'm absolutely loving it. It's good to know that Fangirl is also worth checking out!

  2. I haven't seen any reviews mentioning lack of characterization-that surprises me as I felt so much from those characters! I wasn't as involved in fanfic as I know some bloggers were but there was so much to think about from this book and it was just amazing. I can't even write about it-I love Rowell's writing so much.



Related Posts with Thumbnails

Ads Inside Post