I finished Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell over the weekend and I loved it. I know, I know, I’m really behind the trend. In my defence this book didn’t actually come out until 2014 in the UK, and when it did the marketing campaign left me feeling cold. I kept seeing lots of advertisements at the train station showing a weird smiley face with fangs. Erm, what? It just all seemed rather juvenile. For a long time I kept reading the title as Fang-girl.
After seeing all the positive reviews and reading a bit more about the plot I decided to buy this book. I’m just on a massive contemporary YA marathon at the moment.
From the blurb:
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?
Cath is a huge Simon Snow* fan; she writes fan fiction (very successfully) and is more interested in the fictional World of Mages than the real world.
*Simon Snow is the Harry Potter of this bookverse.
When Cath and her twin sister Wren (see what her mother did there? Cath-Wren?) go to University, Wren decides that she wants to branch out, and asks the University to assign her a roommate. Cath can’t believe it; she’s had a built in best friend her whole life, and doesn’t know how she will cope having to deal with a whole new life without her twin.
Whilst Wren flourishes, Cath starts to flounder. She’s pretty sure her roommate Reagan hates her, Reagan’s charming and rather handsome boyfriend Levi is always in their room, and she hasn’t figured out where the dining room is. Add to this the fact that her Professor doesn’t quite get fanfiction and Cath’s university experience isn’t quite turning out how she expected, and her stash of protein bars is running out…
I read a few bad reviews on Goodreads bitching about the fact that Cath has social anxiety and is a stereotypical fan girl. Well, if she was a well-adjusted fan girl it wouldn’t be much of a novel would it?
To be fair, at university I was a mash up of Cath and Wren; I would be really shy and quiet, completely obsessed with Harry Potter, Stargate, Buffy and X Files, and then get completely rat-arsed (drunk) at a party and make a fool out of myself. Doesn’t everyone go through some sort of crisis at Uni?
There was also some criticism about the romance aspect of the book. I’m sorry, but for most people who you love is a large part of your life. I would say that this book is an equal mix of romance, family drama, university drama and fanfiction drama. Sounds pretty much like my university experience in a nutshell. Without so much of the fanfiction – more behind the scenes documentaries and fan books. Fandom on the Internet was just starting to kick off and only rich people had the Internet. Yes, I’m old.
I loved this book, it still resonated with me even though I’m in my 30s. Just last week my husband thought it would be really funny to tell me what he thought Harry Potter’s “problem” was (he didn’t study maths and English at school, no wonder he didn’t have a proper job, you don’t get anywhere waving a wand around); he was trying to wind me up and it worked. He just doesn’t get it. It’s okay, I’ll think up something blasphemous to say about Star Trek to him, to get my own back.
The only thing I really really hated was the random comment Levi makes that something was “like finding out Harry Potter was gay”. Erm, hang on, I though Harry Potter doesn’t exist in this universe? Isn’t the whole premise that Simon Snow is this universe’s Harry Potter? Whaaaaaat?? You just undermined your whole premise Rainbow Rowell?
I’m going to go with it-was-supposed-to-be-edited-out-in-the-final-copy, but they forgot to change it.
Also, Professor Piper thinking that fanfiction is plagiarism – Cath gets special permission to be in a more advanced writing class (and has a scholarship) because of her fanfiction. Surely her teacher knew about this? I’m not saying I think Cath should turn in fanfiction as a school assignment (she really really shouldn’t) but I still don’t understand the professor’s reaction.
Overall I loved this book, it was funny, entertaining, touching and very reflective of the university experience.
Hope you enjoyed this review, have a great week and please leave me a comment below to let me know how you feel about Fangirl.