Published by St. Martin's Press on September 10th, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, 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? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
If you’ve been around the reading community for the past 3-4 months, you’ll have heard about Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. It was inescapable. The hype was everywhere. Everyone was buying it. Everyone was reading it. Everyone was rating it 4-5 stars. Despite me having pre-ordered it, thanks to the wonderful (read: awful) service of the Book Depository, it took a month and a half before this book was finally in my hands. But off we went on this reading adventure.
As a bookworm, and a fangirl, it wasn’t hard at all to find a connection to Cath. I could see a lot of myself in her, including the introverted behavior and distancing oneself from others. Her love for the Simon Snow fandom reminded me of my younger years, obsessed with of course Harry Potter but also various anime and manga. Rainbow Rowell’s writing shone through and made her personality even more endearing. Truly, I get the fuss over Rainbow Rowell’s writing style now. I have given in to buying Attachments, and I have Eleanor & Park on my wishlist.
Anyway, the book is filled with cute, and if you don’t giggle or squee at certain points, well, you’re missing out. Levi is absolutely adorable. I loved that the romance part of this book wasn’t all head on, in your face, and obvious. No, I loved Levi from the first mention, but it wasn’t clear that he would be the love interest. His relationship with Cath develops at a snail’s pace, but that made it so much more heartfelt and realistic. For Cath, an introvert who is not used to letting people in, this was the only way to believably get her into a relationship. But oh how adorable were those two together? Serious, serious love.
I also want to praise the realism of not only the college setting (this is how to do New Adult, folks), but also the family dynamics. While the sisterly bickering did at times get a bit bothersome, I could see the realism in it as I also don’t have the best relationship with my sister. And analyzing the dynamic between twins? Definitely intriguing. But Cath’s relationship with her father was super endearing. I really loved how that element turned out. Family is important, guys, and I feel like in almost all the books I read it’s always about the mother needing help. Fatherly love ftw, okay? Okay.
I definitely enjoyed this book a whole, whole lot, but I felt a tiny bit let down at the end. Why? I didn’t feel like there had been enough change on Cath’s part. Like, I recognize the fact that at the end she has Levi, her sister, and Reagan (who is made of awesome, like seriously), but at the end she still kind of remains in her shell and her fandom world. I mean, I don’t think she should suddenly have transitioned into the most outgoing person in the world, but I definitely feel like there could have been more development there. The kind of contemporary that I love the most is the kind where there’s an overarching message that inspires me to make changes in my own life – or reflect on past decisions. I didn’t really have that with Fangirl like I did with Adorkable, Golden, Just One Day, This Song Will Save Your Life, etc., and that is ultimately the reason why this won’t be as high on my favorites list as those other ones.
And a final small complaint is that, after a while, the fanfiction excerpts or excerpts from the Simon Snow books between chapters became rather pointless. At first they were kind of fun, but the novelty wore off quickly. As they hardly added to the story, I considered skipping them. They weren’t that enjoyable.