Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Book Review: Fangirl

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell.

There were drawers built into a wall. Levi knelt over one, then ducked out of the room - the doorway was at least an inch too short for him - and Cath sat down carefully on the love seat. The fabric was cool beneath her. She ran her palm along it, some kind of slick cotton with nubby swirls and flowers.

This room was worse than she thought.

Dark. Remote. Practically in the trees. Practically enchanted.

A calculus test would feel intimate in here.

Rainbow Rowell continues to impress me book after book after book. This is her third book, and I have reviewed all of them: Attachments, the recent Eleanor and Park, and now Fangirl. Not only that, but she's a nice person as well - I've tweeted with her several times about her books. I gave Attachments and Eleanor and Park 4.5 out of 5 stars each, but I may have to up my rating with Fangirl, as it's my favorite of the three books.

Official synopsis:
teens, coming of age, fanfictionA 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?
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First off, Cath was supposed to be an only child - but instead her mother, who leaves them at a young age, has twins, and instead of thinking up two names, she names them "Cather" and "Wren" (Catherine - get it?). Cath and her sister Wren are obsessed with the Simon Snow series - think Harry Potter-esque - and Cath likes to write "fanfic," or "fic" for short, about Simon Snow. Cath actually has a huge following on FanFixx, a fanfic site, but when she and Wren go to college, Wren abandons writing fanfic, and it's up to Cath to keep going with the story.

Harry Potter was actually mentioned once in Fangirl as a separate series, which was funny - Simon Snow does have a vampire in it but otherwise it reminded me a LOT of the Potter series. I really liked how the author jumped around between Cath's fanfiction, the actual story, and the "actual" Simon Snow stories (excerpts from them, anyway) at the beginning of chapters - it made for an interesting read.

I would recommend this novel to anyone, really, but in particular, people who remember those first heady days and weeks of college and trying to fit in, as well as have relationships - whether it be with your roommate or the opposite sex. In addition, Rowell's previous two books took place in the '80s and '90s, but this novel takes place in the 2011-2012 school year which is relatively recent, and although some of the pop culture references might not be as relevant in a few years, I enjoyed them in the meantime.

The only thing I didn't like about this novel was the ending - I wanted more of Levi and Cath! I doubt there will be a sequel but I would definitely read it if Rowell ever decided to write one.

5 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own. 

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