Sunday, October 6, 2013

5 stars: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

"From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park

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?"

Published September 10th 2013 by St. Martin's Press. I received a digital ARC of this story from the publisher.

This was such a sweet story! At the same time though, it was very realistic and a bit gritty. The characters are all well-developed and more realistic than most. Cath, the main character, grows a lot as a person during her first year of college.

While this is an incredibly sweet story that made me cry at the end (such a perfect and wonderful ending--one of my favorites ever), there were definitely tough moments. I could really relate to Cath during them though, and those moments are some of the highlights of the story. For instance, when Cath got to college, she had a hard time fitting in-no, she didn't even really try. There's a scene where she's eating in the bathroom and crying. I'm sure I've been there before. What makes it extra difficult is that her twin sister is at the same college, so she shouldn't be having these difficulties, but her sister is using college as a time to try new things and meet new people. This leaves Cath lonely and upset that her sister has abandoned her and has a new best friend. Plus her sister drinks now and goes out all the time. Cath can't relate anymore, and all she does is stay in her dorm room writing Slash Fanfic. I swear I've been there. Not the fanfic part, but feeling lonely and like I can't fit in, and feeling like a shut-in. The most gritty part of the book is Cath's bipolar father who ends up extra manic with his empty nest and winds up in the hospital. Yep, I've been Cath in that situation before. Also, there's her mother who doesn't want any part of that title and who doesn't live up to any of those responsibilities... plus she asks to be called by her first name instead of "mom." Oh, another thing I can relate to (my mom's great, not talking about her)!

The characters all have very distinct personalities and mannerisms. One thing that really struck me was that while in most stories, boys or girls are described as hot or beautiful or whatever, those descriptions aren't really used here. The main character and her love interest are not conventionally hot. Normally it's not a big deal if the main character isn't, but it's not often that we see a leading man who looks average or has some pre-mature balding going on (like Levi in this story). I thought that was really cool. It just makes it all the more realistic.

Another thing that I found cool is that Cath is this uber-nerd who writes and reads, but Levi doesn't read at all. In fact, he admits to having never finished a book in his life. Working in a library, I can tell you that I get patrons who admit to never reading or to finding that one book (Fifty Shades of Grey is a popular one) that has made them a reader. Again, realistic. I really liked that Rowell didn't harp on that too much or criticize him much for that. Mainly because, what if this is the book that is going to make someone a reader? Yet another thing for a reader to relate to. This isn't seen as a huge flaw to Cath either, which I really love. I know people who don't read, and one of them is one of the smartest people that I have ever met, and she's awesome, and I wouldn't dare hold this against her in a million years. I don't want to get preachy, but I just can't stand these Internet memes that bash people for not reading. Again, maybe they just haven't found the right book yet or they have other issues. Either way, I think it's wrong to judge.

Cath's world was pretty much turned upside-down during the first semester of college, which I know I could relate to. The beautiful thing about this book is how things fall into place and she is able to rise from the ashes like a phoenix and all that jazz. It's empowering and really just very beautiful and heart-warming. 

One of my favorite things about this book is that it's New Adult, but doesn't read like any of the current ones out there. You guys, this is what New Adult is supposed to be! It's a coming of age story that isn't erotica, it's not only centered around a love story, and it's not as formulaic as those other stories. It pretty much reads like a YA story, which is what NA should be-YA situations but with an older protagonist! 

Rowell is one of my new favorite authors. I just checked out Attachments and Eleanor and Park from the library!


  1. I just bought this on Kindle. I've heard such good things about it! Great review!