Saturday, December 27, 2014

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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 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?


So... I now finally understand why everyone out there raves about and loves Rainbow Rowell. After reading this book, she manages to capture everything it means to be a teenager: all those emotions of angst, confusion, excitement, nostalgia, and binds it all together in a book called Fangirl. Truly amazing.

As you can tell by the synopsis, Fangirl is the story of Cath growing up out of her Simon Snow obsession (a character akin to Harry Potter), and making it through her first year of college -- a year full of heartbreak, new love, and lots of course work. Cath in general is a great protagonist. She's the type of bookish best friend you would want to piece apart the last episode of Doctor Who or endlessly discuss Sherlock theories with. Her introverted-ness pairs nicely with her outgoing roommate Reagan, and soon-to-be-boyfriend Levi, and leads to some memorable banter. The scene where she reads The Outsiders to him is especially endearing (surprising though, I always thought The Outsiders was required reading for most kids).

And I enjoyed reading the Simon/Baz fan fiction. The passages from Cath's fic, didn't distract from the main story at all. I completely understood the idea of wanting to live in the world forever, like Cath did, but reality has got to come in somewhere, which Cath soon realizes. This book also introduced me to the world of fan fiction, which I had only skimmed over a couple of times, but it is a huge community of people who write the "after" to every possible work: TV shows, books, Disney movies, you name it. Pretty cool.

Reading this book, I basically fell in love with every character even the antagonist/anti-love, who totally gets what he deserves at the end (and it is an oh-so-satisfying end). I didn't want to put this book down at all while reading it. It was basically my constant companion on the bus, to the mall, everywhere, just in case I had a spare minute to read another page or so. Finishing it, I had one of those "book hangover" moments: where do you go after a book that good?
Read more Rainbow Rowell books of course.

Rating: 5 stars

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