September 1, 2013

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: September 10th, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Page Count: 405
Source: ARC from BEA
Rating: Could this book be longer? Because I want more. Because this is probably one of my favorite books of all time.
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?

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

Cath is a major fangirl. Growing up, her twin sister Wren was too. But when they get to college, Wren decides not to live with Cath - she wants a different identity than just being a fangirl twin. Cath, on the other hand, isn't really ready to do that. This book is about what happens when a fangirl can't bring herself to leave her comfort zone but finds out she doesn't really have a choice because everything outside her comfort zone is coming for her and she can't stay away.

Let's break this down:

From the minute I heard about this book, I knew I was going to love it. I was actually a little reluctant to pick it up because I hyped it up so much for myself. But that was silly because I was RIGHT to hype it up for myself.

I have A LOT of personal reasons for loving this book. But, even though I loved this book so much largely because of personal reasons, I don't think that's really relevant to why I think you all should read this book.

So here's the attempt at an unbiased review.

What did I love about this book?

To start with, I love how this book revolves around fan fiction. Hell, the book is called FANGIRL. A lot of the time I feel like fan fiction isn't something I'm allowed to talk about in public. And I never do. Even some of my bookish friends don't understand why I read fan fiction. So it's hard to know who will and won't judge me if I admit to enjoying fan fiction. Which is why I say nothing - it's just kind of my dirty little secret. So it's really amazing to me that this book has a lot to do with something I never really feel comfortable talking about.

I also really loved that Rainbow Rowell wrote bits and pieces of the Simon Snow book and the fan fiction Cath and her sister write. It lets the reader get a feel for what's going on and why it was going on.

And then there are the relationships in this book. There's a lot of stuff going on - Cath really has a lot to deal with - but I really felt like everything was strung together seamlessly. There's honesty no one relationship I loved most. I mean, obviously I loved the romance between Levi and Cath, but Cath's relationship with her twin sister, Wren, was equally compelling and heartbreaking at times. And then there's Cath's issues with her mother and fears for her father than totally gutted me. I even couldn't wait to see how Cath's relationships with Reagan, Nick and even her creative writing professor progressed. Each of these people presented issues that pushed Cath throughout this book and forced her to grow as a character and for that I honestly couldn't say which dramatic situation gripped me the most.

Another thing I loved was the setting for this whole book. Technically this book is New Adult because it takes place in college. But this NA book is so much more like my college experience than any other NA book I've read (aside from maybe Just One Day by Gayle Forman). Obviously I know I'm not going to be able to relate to every book I read, but I feel like every NA book I hear about is about sex and drugs and, honestly, I just don't know that many virgin good girls who went to college and fell in love with a bad boy they managed to reform. Fangirl's version of college might be on the opposite end of the spectrum, but it least it gives an alternative - one that's way closer to my own experiences.

Finally, I'd like to get a LITTLE personal before I wrap up... y'know those advice columns in magazines? Dear Abby or whatever? I feel like I've sent a million questions to some unknown advice column inbox somewhere over the last, I don't know, 4-9 years of my life, and this book is is my answer. Even now that I'm finished with college, I know that this is a book I'm going to keep coming back to A) because it resonates with me so much and B) it's a book I think I can keep learning from, even though I'm 23 and out of college.

Oh. Also? Levi is my hero. I wish I could have one one of him in real life for so, so, so many reasons. (Sans the conflict in the middle of the book, of course.) Kay, thanks, bye.

The long and short of it?

Plot: I'm in love with everything that happened in this book. Even the bad stuff.
World Building: I wish this didn't sound so very much like my college experience, but it does.
Character Development: Obviously Cath grew enormously over the year this book narrates, but so do ALL of the other characters (except MAYBE Cath and Wren's mom) and that's yet another thing I love about this one.
Prose: This book is coated in Rainbow Rowell's particular brand of quirk and awesome. As always, I love.
Would I Recommend This Book?: I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves well developed characters and situations and is a little bit of a fangirl/boy. I also think that anyone who's ever felt like they need to hide the fact that they read/write/know what fan fiction is should pick this one. It's also a really good depiction of an introvert's college experience and, if you're a bit of an introvert yourself (like me), you might find a little bit of advice in this book as well as a brilliant story.

Did you relate to this one as much as I did? Or do you think you will when you finally get your hands on it? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!


  1. UGH I loooove this book. Love, Love, Love, capital L, underlined, italicized, CAPITALIZED. Just like you, I connected hardcore. This was totally my college experience. It just tapped into those emotions so well. Now a devoted Rainbow fangirl. UGH, BOOOK.

    Also *cuddles Levi*

  2. I know we've talked about this book at length so all I'm gonna say is I heart you and I love this review. I also MUST comment on this quote...

    "Obviously I know I'm not going to be able to relate to every book I read, but I feel like every NA book I hear about is about sex and drugs and, honestly, I just don't know that many virgin good girls who went to college and fell in love with a bad boy they managed to reform. Fangirl's version of college might be on the opposite end of the spectrum, but it least it gives an alternative - one that's way closer to my own experiences."

    YES. What you said EXACTLY!

  3. I cannot describe how much I loved and adore this book. I just wanted to hug Cath and say it will be "okay" mostly because I got her. Or my anxieties did. I agree with you about NA and how this is that good NA book.

  4. I do agree that many times fan fiction is something we're supposed to be embarrassed about if we read it or write it. I think that stigma's changing a little bit, though, and it sounds as though Fangirl can only help erase the stigma even more, which is awesome. From what you've mentioned in your review, I won't be surprised if I end up easily relating to the story and its characters (I hope to, to be honest). It just sounds like such a fun and unique book!

  5. Oh man, see, I wasn't as huge a fan of all the snippets of Simon Snow in the book, and that's why I couldn't give it five stars even though I wanted to. But, omg, the relationships and the writing and everything. This is seriously the most NA book I've ever read. I mean, I have been SO nostalgic for college since I finished.

    Bahaha, also, I will include my voice in saying I don't know any virgins who reformed bad boys in college. *snorts*

  6. This book was so much fun to read! I adored reading about Cath, as she reminded me so much of myself in college as well. It was certainly a fun read, and I loved, loved, loved Levi loads <3

  7. Could this book be longer? Because I want more. Because this is probably one of my favorite books of all time.


    No, really. That sentence pretty much sums up my entire feelings. Because even though the book is even a little on the long side, I need more! Because I looooove it. With all the feelings!

  8. I just picked up this book last night (I have apparently been living under a rock) and I am already in love. Like I had to make myself go to sleep so I could get up and go to work today. Love, Love, Love, Love, Love this book already. It sounds like my college experience as well, and I also know what fan fiction is. Mainly Harry Potter but I also branch out a little bit yo!


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