Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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?
Publication Date: September 15, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Kat's Review
I'm not sure if this books should be classified as Young Adult or New Adult because of the age of the main characters, but ultimately I like to think of it just as good fiction. This story is nuanced and contains many layers that get revealed in more detail as the story progresses, ultimately helping the reader understand Cath and her sister Wren a little better. Cath is terrified of going away to school, and has a difficult time discovering just where she fits into a world where everyone seems eager to party and hook-up, when all Cath wants to do is get by.
I think the author made a great decision to stick to the point of view of only one character, rather than jumping back and forth between the sisters. We get a glimpse of what is going on in Wren's life, but only through the lens of what Cath sees, making it even more interesting when everything falls apart. There is a realness here in this book, where boys aren't just a wall of abs and actions don't have consequences. Simon is a normal boy with flaws, Cath and Wren's dad is barely holding on, and Cath's desire to carve out just a small place where she belongs is, I think, the way many students feel their first year, despite all the chants and parties that they attend to fit in.
At first I didn't get why we had to read parts of the Simon Snow story interspersed with Cath's, but I grew to like it, and it helped me understand her character better. There is a realness to Rainbow Rowell's writing that drew me in and kept me turning the pages, despite the fact that I've never read fan fiction and couldn't really relate to that aspect of Cath's personality. I could relate to her writing obsession, as I'm currently frantically trying to write 50 000 words this month for NaNoWriMo, and Cath's preference for quiet situations is definitely something I understand.
Fun Fact: did you know that this started out as a NaNoWriMo novel? See, great things can be started in a month!
Kat's Review
I really enjoyed this book. It had a lot of depth, humour, and believable drama to carry me through to the end.
I received a complimentary copy of this title from NetGalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.


  1. This is my favorite book of 2013 and I'm so glad you liked it! Like you I was a little miffed by all the Simon Snow stuff at the beginning, but at the end I was totally sucked into his story and I'm still sad we didn't get to see how it ended.

  2. Pretty much everyone I know who read this book loved it. I have heard amazing things about Rainbow Rowell, but I haven't read any of her books. I guess I should probably fix that soon!


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