Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Release:  September 10, 2013
Source: eARC from publisher

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?

Eleanor and Park was Rainbow Rowell's major hit. I adored it, and it's actually one of my favorite books of 2013. So, when Rowell announced she had another book coming out this year, I was eager to get my hands on it. I needed this book.

For those who don't know, Fangirl is about a fangirl. The fandom? Simon Snow. But Cath is more than just a fangirl--she writes fanfic, and is perhaps one of the most well known online fanfiction writers out there. In short, this book is a journey toward self discovery, independence, and purpose. Cath deals with facing her first year of college, and begins to forms meaningful relationships outside the fandom of Simon Snow. This doesn't mean she loves Simon Snow stories any less, and it doesn't mean that it's any less important. Cath just learns to live life, and she learns to enjoy the time she has. It's something that many forget about, in the midst of our busy and hectic lives.

Anyone who has read this book can get the sense that Simon Snow has some striking similarities to Harry Potter. There are even fascinating tidbits from the Simon Snow books, as well as sections from Cath's own Simon Snow fanfic. These bits at the end added something extra to this book, and made me fall in love with it even more.

I adored the characters: Cath, her father, Levi, and even Wren. They had me smiling and laughing with each page that I turned. Cath is likely one of the most relatable characters I've come across, because she's so much like us bookworms. We all fell in love and grew up with the Harry Potter series, just as Cath grew up with Simon Snow, and that connection struck a cord. I found the pacing of this book perfect, and the writing just as good as in Eleanor and Park (if not better).

Here is my only issue with Fangirl, and to an extent, Eleanor and Park: Rainbow Rowell has a tendency not to end her books with finality. I felt the ending of Fangirl to be abrupt, without any definite conclusion. Sure, I can imagine what happened, and Rowell gives us clues as to how they happened, but I wanted something more. I wanted a more neat and tidy ending, and I didn't get it. It is the only major flaw to a story that I think is full of heart, perhaps more heart than Eleanor and Park.

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