Publisher: September 10th 2013
Publication date: St. Martin's Griffin
My rating: 4.5 stars
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?
To be honest I really wasn’t really sure about picking up Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I read Rowell’s Eleanor & Park earlier this year, and whilst I knew everyone around me loved it, I was left slightly disappointed. But despite this I decided to risk it with Rowell’s Fangirl, and I’m actually glad that I did.
Cath and her twin sister Wren have moved away to college, Cath has grown up her whole life with her sister beside her and so doesn’t expect college to be any more different. But Wren has other ideas, she decides it’s time for them to live apart and do things on her own. When you first meet Cath you can tell she’s lived in the shadows of her sister, as soon as she moves into her dorm, she cocoons into herself, not really getting to know her roommate Reagan. She doesn’t even venture out of her room unless to go to class. She doesn’t even know where the dining hall is until a few weeks into term and this is rather reluctantly because Reagan and her friend Levi think she has an eating disorder (all Cath has been doing since she came is been bingeing on protein bars). Cath was a character I could easily relate to, I never liked venturing out to try something new, I’m always anxious of what others might think or I might be doing something wrong. At home and with people I know I have the biggest mouth ever, but in any new situation, you won’t hear a squeak out of me. So I understood Cath being anxious about studying away from home, she had to start all over again, because she didn’t even have Wren by her side either.
I was team Cath from the very first page, however at times I did feel like shaking some sense into her. It would take Cath forever to realise that she had something good going for her, seriously this guy was the sweetest guy ever but she was constantly pushing him away. Like when he was carrying her dirty laundry, which I thought was a really nice gesture, she just made a huge deal out of it. I do think this was because of the big insecurity Cath had about getting close to somebody, but also because of what happened early on. But when a guy, proves time and time again that he cares about you, just let him in. That was my only real problem that I had with Cath. Whereas Wren was just a completely different story.
I really disliked Wren, I know she just wanted to be her own person, for the last 18 years it had always been Cath and Wren, but did she have to be a real cow about it? It was obvious that Cath was suffering from anxiety issues, but she kept constantly brushing her off, even when Cath came to search for her in a bar completely out of her comfort zone. I actually even liked it when Cath and Wren weren’t talking because it gave Cath the opportunity to get to know other people around her such as Levi and Reagan.
Levi and Reagan were just two of the best characters of this book. They really did bring alive this story especially Levi. At the beginning I wasn’t really sure of him, but he just grew on me with his bubbly personality, his huge hair and his patience he showed for Cath. And he was there for her when things fell apart. Which guy would drive a girl home a few hundred miles in the worst snowy weather ever and the roads were the worst to drive on? That would be Levi; he would also give her the time and space when she was writing her fan fiction. Levi was a real surprise of Fangirl, that I honestly wouldn’t mind him bringing me a gingerbread latte!
Fangirl was a book which completely took me by surprise; Rowell did a fantastic job of keeping me entertained with surly characters such as Reagan and bubby energetic characters such as Levi. Also she did a wonderful job of focusing on a lot of tough issues that Cath had to go through, such as family break ups, break downs and fallings out. But she was also able to bring a lot of fun and hilarious moments that easily brightened up a tense situation. The only thing I didn’t however care about was Simon Snow aspect, I was interested in reading about Cath’s obsession with Fan Fiction and how she was getting on with writing it, but the long passages of Simon Snow extracts I didn’t care for. That’s my only gripe, other than that Fangirl was a wonderful story which dealt with growth, maturity and finding your place in a beautiful way.