Thursday, August 8, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published: September 10, 2013 by St. Martin's Press
Source: ARC from publisher - thank you!
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? [goodreads]
Gosh, where do I begin with this review?!  Let me start by saying I am a huge Rainbow Rowell fan.  I read both Eleanor and Park, as well as Attachments, last year.  Both novels completely blew me away.  This woman's craft is something I can only aspire to have one day.  Her ability to write characters, set scenes, and engage the reader into a world that should just be ordinary, yet feels completely personal, is a true talent. 

Cath and Wren are twin sisters, who share a love for the Simon Snow fandom (which mirrors very closely to Harry Potter and it's what I pictured a lot as I read the story).  They grew up with their dad, after their mother abruptly left and decided she didn't want to be a mother anymore.  This departure left the girls and their dad in a total mess.  Slowly, they picked up the pieces and glued themselves back together - as best they could.  The girls took to writing fanfiction for Simon Snow, which quickly sparked an audience of it's own.  Before they knew it, fans were becoming fans of their fan-fiction.

The story begins as Cath and Wren go to college together, yet Wren wants a separate identity from her twin sister, so she opts to live in a different dorm.  This already sets the scene for Cath's anxiety to go into over drive.  She's not only starting over somewhere new, but she's having to do it without her twin sister sharing a bed next to her's.  Cath's new roommate introduces a boy into Cath's world that will forever change it.

Meet Levi. Oh Levi, Levi, Levi.

If there ever was a boy written so perfectly, yet full of so many flaws, this would be THE BOY.  He captured my heart right away and I just knew he would either break it, or cause it to explode.  Both of which definitely occurred -- but no spoilers on THAT.

As the story progresses Cath is cast into a very typical world of college life, yet she feels not a part of it at all.  While she stays secluded in her dorm room, writing Simon Snow fanfic, her sister Wren is out and about living up the college social life.  There are moments when the girls butt heads because they are at such contrasts, and even remove themselves from the others life in order to breathe.  But truthfully, all it's doing is suffocating them more.

The ever-present issue of their mother abandoning them surfaces time and time again.  You start to see the damage it's caused to both girls, and how they are both reacting, both differently, in regards to it.  This story is very strong in its establishment of family, and how differently it can be conceived.  There may be cracks all over, but it is those cracks that give it definition, and makes that family whole.

I loved the heavy dose of Simon Snow littered through out.  The way Rainbow Rowell portrays the concept of fan-fiction was so interesting for me to read about.  It wound its way through the story and kept both Cath and Wren, their father, and Levi all intertwined. 

I found myself, often, rereading scenes (Levi!!!) because I wasn't quite ready to move on in the story.  I wanted to savor that passage just a bit more, only to be taken back by yet another amazing moment pages later.  I firmly believe fans of Rainbow Rowell will devour this book, as well.  It's a coming of age story that will break your heart, over and over, yet leave you feeling so completely full.  If this is your first novel to read by Rainbow Rowell, then be prepared for some serious fangirlness.


  1. I really enjoyed Attachments, but didn't love E+P as much as I had hoped to. I love her writing style though; as you mentioned, she creates amazing characters. I'm looking forward to this one!

  2. I haven't read Rainbow Rowell (although I've had Eleanor & Park on my Kindle for forever). Fangirl sounds amazing. I love the idea of the college setting, and the fact that she's written the characters so well really makes me want to read this book. Great review! ~Pam

  3. I was approved for Fangirl quite awhile ago from Netgalley, but I've been saving the book until closer to the release date. I'm am so excited to read it, because I love Eleanor and Park and Attachments so much. In a matter of weeks, Rowell became a favorite author of mine.

    I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed Fangirl, and that fans of Rowell will not be disappointed. I'm also really excited to hear that Simon Snow reminded you of Harry Potter.

    Anyway, I'm pretty sure I'll be reading Fangirl very soon. I've waited long enough :)

  4. I loved Attachments. Fangirl sounds like my kind of book. Great review!

  5. I can't tell you how envious I am that you've already had an opportunity to read this! I knew it was the perfect book for me the instant I read the synopsis. I've always grappled with anxiety and definitely spent much of my adolescence immersed in various fandoms, so Cath sounds like a girl after my own heart.

    After reading and loving Attachments, Rainbow Rowell earned a place on my auto-buy list. I absolutely adore her writing style and have complete faith that I'll love whatever she creates. I'll definitely be counting the days until September 10th. A lovely and thoughtful review, Ginger, as always!

  6. Eleanor & Park completely swept me off my feet. I was so amazed by Rowell's writing. I'm so excited to read Fangirl (September, come soon please). I'm both infinitely jealous and happy that you've read and loved it. Awesome review!

  7. Oh my gosh, Ginger, this book. I feel like such an idiot because it's no secret that Attachments and E&P are my #1 and #2 favorites this year. So now that I have Fangirl, I actually will look at it, pick it up, and then quickly sit it back down. It's like I'm almost scared to read it even though I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW it's practically perfect in every way, just like Mary Poppins. I have absolute full faith in Rainbow, but I'm still weirdly scared. It's ridiculous. Stupid, even. Because I know I'll love it. Help.

  8. I am so so psyched about this one! Glad to hear that it was a hit, since I was def a huge fan of Attachments and E&P!

    Sounds like this one could make a good movie? (Can Zac Efron be in it?!)

    And I just giggled for Asheley's Disney reference in her comment!

  9. I am definitely excited to make this my first Rainbow Rowell read. I really like how unique the idea is to write about fan fiction writing, and yet I imagine it's going to be so relevant to all those huge Harry Potter fans out there, as well as anyone who's ever dabbled in or read fan fiction. I'm glad to hear there are examples of fan fiction throughout the book as well. It would be frustrating to read a book about fan fiction without having any of said stories actually make an appearance! Lovely review! I am fully expecting to love this one myself. :)


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