Book Name: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
My Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Format: Hard-cover checked out from the local library
Goodreads’ words: 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 Words: Fangirl is a beautiful story about a girl who has to redefine herself when she has to give up the comforts of home-life for the new world of dorms and college in the absence of her ever-present twin. Cath is an introverted girl; she doesn’t like dealing with new people and prefers the company of her identical twin sister, who shares a love for the fictional world of “Simon Snow” (think “Harry Potter”) and write fanfiction about it. I’m not a fanfic writer or anything, but I definitely related to escaping the real world through fictional means. I had read fanfic during the Harry Potter series and I was simply amazed at the stories that people could come up with. The main character does write fanfiction of her own. But when it’s time for college, Wren is ready to leave “Simon Snow” behind. Cath is decidedly not, and goes on writing her (very popular) fanfiction, “Carry On, Simon.” Things in that world are an escape from the real one that includes: her increasingly distant and increasingly wild sister; an unstable single father back home; a mean roommate; and her roommate’s ever-present, perpetually smiling supposed boyfriend. The fanfic pages might be distracting and unnecessary in the book, but I actually didn’t mind it. It’s easy to skip if you aren’t in the mood, but the fanfiction parts that she actually writes do go along with what’s happening in her life. When things start getting romantic, it’s amusing to compare Cath’s fictional idea of a romance to her actual, super awkward idea of it in real life. I liked all the main characters, and the romance part of the plot made me root for Cath and Levi from the beginning. I liked the book’s pace and the theme.
But what really got me was the growing that Cath went through, not just because of her dad or the writing class or even the boyfriend, but because she finally took a chance and did something of her own volition instead of relying on her crutches to hang back, and she came out stronger because of it. While having a teacher who didn’t understand fan fiction was a nice and realistic touch, showing that not all those who might write amazing fan fiction can end up writing their own universe.
But I found the ending to be quite abrupt. What really happened between Wren and Courtney…what happened with the party where she had to GO to the hospital? And the fiction writing assignment that Cath has to write was so short, it didn’t do justice to Cath’s fiction writing skills at all. I would have loved to read the entire piece. The Simon Snow story is a very large portion of the plot here, but not so important that I think the whole book should just end because the final book has come out.
Overall, I liked it and I’m glad I read it. I am a bit confused on what rating to give here, because it was definitely worth reading but it was not the greatest book. I think I’ll add my first quarter rating for this book – a 3.75 out of 5!