Monday, 4 November 2013

19:31 - No comments

Book Review: "Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell


Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.

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?


Anyone who knows me for more than three minutes knows that I am a HUGE fangirl. Whether it is comic books, action movies, or books (obviously), I’ll love them all. So I was very intrigued and excited to read a book focused on the dramas of a fandom and its followers. This was a very cute read and if you consider yourself a fangirl or fanboy, you should look into reading this on a rainy day.

The story opens with the main character, Cather (or Cath, as she prefers) moving into her new dorm room. She is nervous to start her first year of college. Not long after arriving, she meets the two main supporting characters, her new roommate, the charmingly snarky Reagan, and Levi, her always smiling friend. It is obvious in the beginning that Cath wants nothing to do with either of them and would rather keep the company of her twin sister, Wren. At first, I didn’t take to Cath because she seemed very detached. Being the main character and having the entire story centered around her, I wanted to like her, and maybe even relate to her. Despite a sour first impression, she eventually changed and became more likable to me as the story unfolded. One thing is for sure, Cath’s happiest moments were when she was writing fanfiction.

I have read and written some fanfiction, however its not my personal favourite. Nevertheless, if you like fanfiction as much as some people I know, you may be able to relate to this better than I did. Throughout the book Cath writes some successful fanfiction for her fandom, “Simon Snow”, and there are plenty of excerpts of her writing and snippets of the “actual” series. These appear in no particular order for a page or two in between the main action. I found that it would sometimes disrupt the main flow of the story, and I found myself going back to read where it left off before it was interrupted. I wasn’t all that interested in Simon’s story, so at times it got quite boring for me. I will admit that I skimmed through a few of these sections to get back to Cath.

Her story does have its ups and downs. There are some emotional moments when she confronts her mother, who abandoned her and her sister when they were young. It is also emotional when her sister gets taken to the hospital with alcohol poisoning. I enjoyed these moments and found it made the book more serious, rather than just remaining lighthearted throughout. In addition to the relationship with her sister, Cath’s relationship with the other supporting characters develops somewhat ineffectively. I found that some character dynamics were lacking at certain points. Nick’s character is one example of this. He begins by being Cath’s studying/writing partner and then when she begins to think more romantically about him…he just disappears. There was the ability to have a major turn of events when he steals Cath’s ideas to write his own paper. However, when he confronts her about what he did, it only lasts for a few pages. In fact, she seemed less affected than one might expect. Given these points, I found that Fangirl’s plot could have been improved and could have had less “filler” by removing some of the Simon Snow pages.

The Simon Snow storyline seemed to be a pretty clear attempt at targeting the Harry Potter fans. The similarities between the two “series” was undeniable. For example, Simon is a wizard that goes to a wizardry school where he meets Basil (or Baz), his soon to be best friend, much like Harry and Ron’s plot. Another example was Cath complaining that in the fourth Simon Snow movie all the actors had longer hair. This was true in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as well. If you are a Harry Potter fan, then I would definitely recommend this book to you. On the other hand, if you’re like me and don’t have particularly strong feelings for that series, then you might be best looking into another read.

In spite of this, in the end, I did enjoy the novel. I would have preferred more conversations about the movies, the author, and upcoming books in addition to the fanfiction because this would be more in keeping with what I’m used to as a fangirl. If this had been the case I would have recommended this book to a wider range of readers. Instead I find myself wanting to suggest it to fans who enjoy more laid-back fiction. Like I said before, it is a very good cozy Sunday afternoon read. There was nothing too suspenseful, but it was yet entertaining in a quirky way.

I give Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell a rating of 3 out of 5 stars.


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