Thursday, March 27, 2014

REVIEW: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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?

My Thoughts:

“It’s just … everything. There are too many people. And I don’t fit in. I don’t know how to be. Nothing that I’m good at is the sort of thing that matters there. Being smart doesn’t matter—and being good with words. And when those things do matter, it’s only because people want something from me. Not because they want me.” 

When I first started reading Fangirl, I struggled a bit. I was reading, and reading, and reading, and I kept thinking, oh my God, everyone on the whole planet has read this book and loved it. What is wrong with me? What am I not seeing? People are going to think I'm insane for not loving this. But then.... then, something just clicked and I started to get it. And by the end, boy, did I get it.  

“No,' Cath said, 'seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.” 

I saw so much of myself in Cath. I'm sure we've all been a fangirl at some stage. I really felt that I connected with her so much and understood her completely. But she's also so relatable because she is so real. The thoughts that go through her head, the things that she does and says. I could think and say these things on any given day. Her awkwardness, her love of fictional characters, her nerdiness. Everything about her was just so spot on.

Now Wren was a completely different story. I didn't really like her. At all. Well, I did come around a bit in the end. But I felt so sad for the path that she was choosing to take. I did understand her wanting to have the college experience, but she sure did push it to its very limits. I felt that she abandoned Cath when she really needed her the most. But when I looked at it more closely, I think it actually turned out to be a good thing. Cath branched out a bit and became a much stronger person for not having Wren to lean on. She still maintained all the things that made her this awesome nerd, but she let Levi and Reagan into that nerdy world of hers.

"God Levi. Look at you... you're..." She didn't have words for what Levi was. He was a cave painting. He was The Red Balloon. She lifted her heels and pulled him forward until his face was so close, she could look at only one of his eyes at a time. "You're magic," she said.

Levi was someone that I loved immediately. He was so full of happiness. It was impossible not to have a huge smile on my face as I was getting to know him. He just exuded this sunshine. I loved that Cath didn't describe him as this guy who was insanely hot and popular because of it. He was a regular guy like you and me. He had the most kick ass personality and he was just so caring. And that is why he was popular. All of this made him completely and utterly gorgeous. 

“I feel sorry for you, and I'm going to be your friend."
"I don't want to be your friend," Cath said as sternly as she could. "I like that we're not friends."
"Me, too," Reagan said. "I'm sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.” 

I loved Cath's roommate Reagan. She was outspoken and I thought that there was no way that her and Cath would ever find anything in common and be able to form any sort of bond or relationship. But despite those differences, they formed a great friendship. 

I loved this group of quirky friends. I loved that they all found something in each other that drew them together. They were all different, but fit into each others lives perfectly.

I have to admit to skimming over some of the fanfiction. It was one aspect of the story that just didn't appeal to me. At the start of the book I forced myself to read it, but I just felt that I wasn't gaining anything from it. And I don't think that my skimming detracted from the story at all.

When I first started reading Fangirl, I thought I was going to get a cute story about a girl and her love of Simon Snow. I did get that, but I also got so much more. Fangirl touches on some real issues in our society today. But it was done in a way as to not weigh the story and flow of the reading experience down.

The buzz about Rainbow Rowell had been reaching me for a while now, so I'm so glad to have finally delved into her writing and experienced it for myself. What stands out most for me is her ability to capture the essence of reality in her characters. There is nothing better than seeing yourself in the characters of a book you are reading. 

4/5 Levi Stars

A huge thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for the opportunity to read and review Fangirl.

1 comment:

  1. I also really related to Cath, there was something so perfect about her character! Great review :)
    -Scott Reads It


Thanks so much for visiting YA Book Addict. Your comments are very much appreciated.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...