Book Review : Fangirl

Book Review : FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published by Pan Macmillan on January 30th 2014
Genres: Social Issues, United States, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 459
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Bookshop.org
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three-half-stars

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She would rather bury herself in the fanfiction she writes where there's romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life.
Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible ...
A tale of fanfiction, family, and first love

As a person who has been a part of countless “fandoms” over the years—Naruto, Final Fantasy, Star Wars, Harry Potter—you name it, I’ve been in it—and is no stranger to Tumblr, Fan fiction, love triangle debates, and more, I was super excited to read “Fangirl.”  I have never read—or even heard of—any book that involved “fandom” life and the hole it leaves in a fan’s life when the book, movie, or series is coming to end. And author Rainbow Rowell does a great job of depicting this unique and often depressing situation and balancing it along with main character, Cather’s life as a new college student, twin, daughter of a single parent struggling with a mental illness, and as an internet-famous fan fiction writer. And Rowell wrote with an excellent sense of humor and realism throughout. I loved this coming-of-age story that wasn’t quite like anything else out there, and Cath’s struggle to find herself outside of the comfort zone of her twin and the fandom that she has loved and been an active part of, for so long.

 

Shy Cath initially wanted to live at home and attend a local school, but decided on the college where her twin, Wren was going. They were best friends, part of the same circle of friends in real life, and part of the same Simon Snow fandom, even writing fan fiction together. After all, their names alone—“Cather” and “Wren”—Catherine, showed just how close they were.  But that was all about to come to end. Cath’s world was rocked when she learned that her twin, Wren did not want to room with her in college:

 

“We’re supposed to meet new people,” Wren repeated.

  “I don’t need new people.”

  “That just shows how much you need new people….” Wren squeezed Cath’s hands. “Cath think about it, if we do this together, people will treat us like we’re the same person. It’ll be four years before anyone can even tell us apart.”

 

I know a lot of people complained about main character, Cather’s extreme introversion, but as a very awkward and introverted person myself, I really related to her and what she was going through in a very tough and new period of life. And just like Cath, I was super overwhelmed and very awkward my freshman year of college—I can’t even think about some of the things I said and did without cringing. It was almost like looking at a mirror of my freshman self!

 

Cath took her clothes to the bathroom and changed in a stall. There was a girl at the sinks, desperately trying to make friendly eye contact. Cath pretended not to notice.”

 

I found myself laughing aloud at relatable moments like these.  If you haven’t had these moments, I applaud and envy you, but you also could be frustrated by the character and her actions. But like me, you will also love when Cath slowly stopped having these moments and started finding her own brand of confidence. I loved the development of her friendship with her blunt roommate Reagan, who accepted Cath for her awkward, introverted self, and didn’t push her too hard, but instead, pushed just enough. I liked her newfound ability to tell her writing partner, Nick, where to shove it after he didn’t credit her on their co-authored story. And I loved her unlikely friendship and eventual romance with Levi, her outgoing opposite, despite her fear of this boy who was everything she wasn’t and of putting herself out there.

 

This is why I can’t be with Levi. Because I’m the kind of girl who fantasizes about being trapped in a library overnight—and Levi can’t even read. Cath immediately felt bad for thinking that. Levi could read. (Sort of.)”

 

I loved how Levi was a boy who took an interest in the girl wearing t-shirts with literary and fandom references, with her hair pulled up in a messy bun, and her eyes hidden behind purple glasses. I liked that Levi asked about her male x male Fan fiction and asked her to read it to him without any reservations.View Spoiler »This was truly a bookworm’s dream romance.

 

I really enjoyed this book for its uniqueness involving fandom life and its ability to balance it with real world problems and a not-so-typical coming of age story. I liked that the book emphasized that it was okay to be different from everyone else, and that sometimes it’s all about finding other people whose weirdness matches yours. That being said, this book might not work for a typical teen, who doesn’t spend a lot of time on the internet and isn’t as familiar with internet or fandom culture, so to speak, and might prefer a more straight-forward story involving high school or college life with a typical romantic aspect on the side. But I would highly recommend this book to any burgeoning writers, introverts, or fandom members–I suspected that Harry Potter fans would definitely love and understand this book—and who will surely be able to relate to Cath. After reading this book, I decided that I would definitely be checking out more of Rainbow Rowell’s other works in the near future.

 

three-half-stars
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Book Reviews - bloggingwithdragons.com - Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Posted May 29, 2017 in Book Reviews, Young Adult

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