Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (September 10th, 2013)
Hardcover, 483 pages
Goodreads     Amazon

A coming-of-age tale of fanfiction, 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 fanfiction, 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 that 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 fanfiction 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? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Rating: 5 stars

I tried reading this a while ago and couldn’t really get into it. Then I picked up Carry On (also by Rainbow Rowell, about Simon Snow and his fictional world) and LOVED it, and after devouring Carry On I felt like I could better identify with Cath and really got into Fangirl and had a hard time putting it down. 

Fangirl is an amazing New Adult romance, but it’s about SO MUCH MORE than the romantic plot. Cath struggles with anxiety issues and some other social/mental issues I don’t know enough to identify/label, but do know enough to identify with on some level. While I’m not that bad to the level of living off protein bars and peanut butter for months because I was too shy/nervous/anxious to ask where the cafeteria was/how to use it/where to sit in the beginning and now it’s too late, I can CERTAINLY relate to that feeling. My breaking point for going “OK, I’m going to hate every second of this and feel like a total idiot, but worst case scenario I look like an idiot and hopefully someone tells me so I can do it right next time and feel less like an idiot” is just a lot sooner than Cath’s is! I just ended up identifying so hard with Cath’s need for escapism and the desire to disappear, and with her impulse to quit things when they get too hard/scary/intense and just shut down.

So yes, this is a romance and is about the budding romantic relationship between Cath and Levi, and it’s sort of a slow and awkward burn. It’s also about her stepping out on her own, and truly on her OWN when she’s been one half of a twin-whole her entire life, for the first time in her life. It’s about her sister Wren struggling to find her own identity, and what that does to their relationship and to the both of them. There’s drama related to Cath’s relationship with her dad, and to her and her sister’s relationship with their estranged mother. Cath is a college freshman taking a junior level fiction writing class, so there’s that dynamic. Add onto that the fact that Cath is passionate about writing Simon Snow (sort of Cath’s world’s Harry Potter) fanfiction and her fiction writing professor thinks writing fanfic is plagiarism and Cath is thrown into a tailspin… Add in her dad’s unstable mental health, Cath’s own unstable mental health, all those new experiences… MAN, this book is INTENSE. AHHH, I LOVE IT. 

WHY are you still reading this review? Go read the book. Maybe readCarry On first if you can’t get into Fangirl, as Carry On is about Simon Snow and Baz and the world of mages and will get you into the headspace to get into Cath’s headspace. It’s like reading the Harry Potter books before reading a book about a girl who writes Harry Potter fanfic. Shh, it makes sense, go do it.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

  1. I think I am a black sheep, because I loved this book EXCEPT for the fanfic bits. I just wasn't into it. But I adored the romance, the twins trying to adjust to college, and this was just cute and sweet and perfect.


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