Friday, August 30, 2013

You've Made a Fangirl Out of Me

"To really be a nerd, she'd decided, 
you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one."
--Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl

Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 405 pages
Publication Date: September 10th, 2013
Source: eARC provided via publisher from NetGalley

Goodreads Description

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?

My Thoughts

Fangirl is the ultimate and perfect title for this book because it not only deals with a few, it totally made me one. I mean, I was a Rainbow Rowell fangirl before this book, but this book solidified her place among my favorite contemporary authors. We all know contemporary is not my go-to genre, so when I find one I connect with I absolutely fall for it...and I fell hard for this one. 

Fangirl focuses on Cath, one of a pair of twins, who is starting her first semester of college. Cath is an introvert, quiet, thoughtful, observant. Wren, her twin, is the opposite who can't wait for college to hit the social scene. Cath is the ultimate fangirl of the Simon Snow book series, and is the authority on the Simon Snow fanfiction scene. Wren used to be just as involved but has since grown out of it. Cath has a surly roommate with a cute boyfriend and a dad who is aloof on the best of days.

The book opens with the girls moving into college and, you guys, I have gone away to school and had the new school jitters (twice--I transferred my junior year of college) and let me tell you, Rainbow writes this situation perfectly. I've done this twice and will never have to do it again, and I could feel the anxiousness of this experience oozing off the pages. The nerves, the anxiety, the unknown, I felt Cath's uneasiness as if it were my own. I actually felt my pulse speed up and got nervous about the absolute uncertainty that college brings. Then I had to talk myself down and remind myself I'm 26 years old, been to college twice, and never have to do this again. I knew I was in trouble with this book from the start. From there, Cath does her best to adjust and I just felt her journey right along with her. College. Is. Terrifying. The scene where she talks about the cafeteria and how nobody teaches you the rules you actually need, i.e. where to stand in line, what to take, where to sit, is SO spot on I was laughing out loud. The way college is portrayed is just perfect. The emotions right along with it. 

I adored Cath. I would want to be her friend if I were in college. So smart. So mature. She just gets it. Her inner monologues were endearing, poignant, and honest. I felt myself really identifying with her and totally understood where she was coming from. I share a lot of the same opinions Cath does in regards to partying and how I, too, would rather spend a Saturday night reading than out in a crowded bar surrounded by morons. My inner nerd felt like it was being called to by a kindred spirit. Her point blank perception of situations were also some of my favorite parts. But, it was her interaction with her roommate Reagan that had me CACKLING out loud. I mean, seriously dying. Reagan was one of my favorite characters and she is also somebody I would like to be friends with. Brutally honest, kind at heart, she was a perfect companion for Cath to have.

The romance in this book is beautiful. It is subtle, slow-burning, and ultimately intense. I really had no idea if what happens was going to happen. A few boys are on the horizon so I was both surprised and very pleased with how things turned out. Cath's vulnerability was also something I could totally relate to and I loved her more for it. Her vulnerability with her sister was something else I could relate to...which I both loved and also pissed me off. Wren is awful. She infuriated me for almost the entire book. I have two younger sisters so I totally get the sister-sister relationship, and because of that, I think I was more sensitive to it. Your sister knows you better than anybody, so when you fight, you almost immediately go for below the belt and it is beyond hurtful. Wren did this to Cath constantly and my heart broke for her again and again. If you have sisters, you know exactly what I'm talking about. While this dynamic made a huge part of the story and drove a lot of the plot, it still broke my heart.

Now...let's get to Cath's fanfiction. I abso-freakin-lutely LOVED this part of the book. The interludes between chapters that had scenes from the Simon Snow books and Cath's fanfiction were amazing. I felt like I was getting 3 different stories all for the low price of one single novel. Even though Harry Potter is referenced in the book, I couldn't help but compare the Simon Snow phenomena to HP. Cath's love and enthusiasm for the books made me remember fondly of growing up with Harry Potter. I re-lived my own excitement and enthusiasm when a new book came out and it made the book so much more to me. I freakin' loved reading about Cath's passion and love for Simon and Baz. Any reader can relate with her about the love she has for these characters. There is a part in the story where she touches on this and about how much she loves them and wants what is best for them. It just made so much sense and I loved it! It also made me wish I knew about fanfiction while I was growing up and reading the books. I could have had MORE Harry Potter?! 

I love how much emphasis is put on so many different types of relationships in this book. Sisters, new friends, new romances, parent relationships, relationships once abandoned. So much is explored in this book and each and every one were beautiful and unique in their own way. Cath's exploration of her feelings towards her mother were some of the most painful for me to read about. I was 100% with Cath on her perception of the situation and was on her side completely. But watching Cath's personal growth was the best part of the book. Her discovery of herself and her strength was phenomenal and beautiful. I cannot say enough about how much I just love Cath.

I think one of the most unique and amazing things about Rainbow's writing is that she takes seemingly ordinary characters--people you could easily know or remind you of somebody in your real life--and she makes them into something extraordinary. I believe that every single person has a fantastic story from their life and Rainbow tunes into this and takes an objectively simple situation--first boyfriend in college--and creates an amazing tale of beauty. I don't know if I'm explaining it exactly how I mean it but the bottom line is that she create extraordinary out of the ordinary.   

Seriously, though. Words cannot describe how much I just fell in love with this book. The writing is incredible. Every time I put the book down I wanted to pick it right back up. This is a review that is full of rambling and fangirling *pun intended* and I just love love LOVED this book! 

Should You Read This? YES! Contemporary fans, Rainbow Rowell fans, excellent writing fans, poignant stories fans, GREAT STORIES FANS! Read read read and all is well. 


  1. I cannot wait to read this!!!! I've heard so many great things and your review has just sold me even more. Super excited :)

  2. Ahhhhh I LOVE YOUR REVIEW! You completely captured why I loved the book so much. Although you already know since we fangirled together over text :) I can't wait for her Rainbow's next book. She really does have a way of taking simple moments and turning them into something beautiful.

  3. Great review - I really need to read Rainbow Rowell. I've heard so many amazing things about her books. Even though I'm not a huge contemp fan, I have been finding more and more that I love contemporary that's out right now :)

  4. Great review friend! One of my faves this year too!!


  5. So I have to admit that I was among the minority and did not enjoy Eleanor & Park that much. But I think Fangirl will be a better book for me. I like the sound of a college setting, the emphasis on relationships, and the fanfiction/fangirling. I am really excited to read this one!


  7. I agree with Hannah: I WANT THIS BOOK NOW PLEASE. I'm on a book buying ban and I'm so close to breaking it because DAMMIT I WANT IT.

    Especially because you say the first time college experience is described so well. I actually switched universities twice aleady (once because my studies sucked and once because I was sick) and it effing SUCKS to be the new kid again.

    I've only read E&P but Rainbow Rowell is legit one of my favorite authors of all time. I need this book. That's all.


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