Fangirl

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Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Pages: 433
Genre: New Adult
Source: BEA
Rating: 3/5

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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I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. Eleanor & Park was one of my favorite reads of 2012, and I was ridiculously excited for Fangirl. Unfortunately, it fell short of my expectations. Here’s why:

1. Another sheltered college kid. I don’t know why, but I’ve been getting really irritated by all the sheltered suburban kid stories that seem to be popping up all over the place. It’s not that I don’t believe they could happen, exactly, I just don’t identify with that kind of character. Which leads me to the second issue I had with this book, which was

2. Cath’s personality in general. I tried so hard to like her. She has a cool name (full name is Cather), and she’s a writer, which is something I can identify with. However, her lack of social skills really got to me, and I just ended up feeling annoyed by her. Whereas I was really psyched to go to college, Cath wasn’t, and didn’t do that much to try to make her experience better, which bothered me.

3. The fanfic bits. I realize that was kind of the point of the story, but to be honest, I skimmed most of the Cath-written parts. I also found it really hard to believe that in college, she would think it’s okay to submit fanfiction for a writing course. I mean, sure, people make a lot of mistakes in college, but that one just made me raise my eyebrows a bit.

There were some things I liked about Fangirl, however, including

1. The relationships. Mainly the family relationships. I wished we could have heard more about the emotional issues of Cath’s dad, because that was something that seemed very interesting and telling to me. I also liked the added element of Cath and Wren’s mom, and thought Rowell did a great job exploring the very different reactions of the twins when their mother started to come back into their lives.

I also enjoyed Levi as a character. To be honest, if the book wasn’t by Rainbow Rowell, Levi probably would have been my only reason for finishing the book. His charm was addicting and he sounded absolutely adorable and like the kind of guy I’d go for in real life. I thought the evolution of his and Cath’s relationship was sweet.

2. The writing. Even though I didn’t like the writing as much as I did in Eleanor & Park, I could still appreciate that it was pretty good. It was a different kind of story than E&P, so the style and voice Rowell adopted was appropriate, even if I didn’t like it as much.

I feel really guilty writing a mostly negative review for Rainbow Rowell because I loved her YA debut, but Fangirl just wasn’t for me. I went into it with really high expectations and ended up disappointed. I guess I liked the idea of it when I read about it, but I didn’t really identify with any of the characters and it wasn’t as powerful a story to me as Eleanor & Park was. Still, lots of people loved this book and Rainbow Rowell certainly deserves all the hype she gets, so don’t let this review keep you away from her other books.

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