I knew I was going to like Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell because so many others had gushed over it (including my friend and fellow blogger Natalie at Browsing Bookshelves) and I adored Eleanor & Park . Guys. I adored Fangirl. I picked it up from the library, went home, and didn't put it down until I finished it. So. Freaking. Good. So good, in fact, that Natalie and I will be venturing to Toronto on Monday to see Rowell AND we'll both be buying a copy even though we've both already read it. That's a good book, my friends.
Here's the synopsis:
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.I totally identified with Cath. I think any introvert can, really. Like Cath, I found university to be a terrifying concept. Luckily for me, my "twin" (aka my best friend, Sandy) didn't ditch me and we did room together. Potentially embarrassing fact: I also totally and completely understood Cath's aversion to the dining hall. I did know where mine was but I was so unsure of what to do that I usually just ate at one of the fast food places or made something in our kitchen. Thinking back, it seems really silly but for someone who hates change as much as Cath (and, ok, me), college and all the newness it brings, is scary. Rowell really allowed that to come out through her writing in a believable way.
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?
And Reagan, Cath's roommate? Oh my goodness, I loved that girl. She was hilarious! I think she was the perfect person to confront Cath about her fear of, well, everything new and to bring her out of her shell. I think what really made it work was not only her abrasive personality (deep down she really does care) but also that she was a couple of years older. Personality-wise, I pictured her as Janis from Mean Girls. I love the scenes in the dining hall where they mock...er...observe other students. In one scene, the girls are talking about a girl who wears a wolf tail. Cath remarks that she kind of likes the tail and Reagan's response had me laughing out loud (I'll clean it up a bit for you!):
"If God put me into your life to keep you from wearing a f*cking tail, I accept the assignment." (page 47)I thought the story was a great one. I can't remember reading something like this before, something that features such real characters and scenarios. Many serious issues are touched on but they're not overblown nor are they angsty like so many other YA novels. There are various mental and emotional issues as well as the "normal" craziness that comes from being in your first real relationship and going away to school. It's a tough world out there but Rowell shows you, through her characters and this story, that you can get through anything if you have the right people (friends, family, and professionals) around you.
I also really liked the "fangirl" aspect of the book. Fanfiction and fandoms are not only becoming more common but also, I think, more acceptable, more mainstream. I really liked that there were excerpts from the "real" Simon Snow novels as well as from Cath's fanfiction. It helped bring her story to life even more, I think. In fact, I actually wish it was a real story! It seemed like it'd be a really cool mix of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.
Fangirl is an amazing novel. I loved reading it. I loved that I was halfway through the book and so much had happened but I knew I still had so much more to read. I was invested in the characters and their lives and while I wanted to see how things worked out for them, I didn't want it to end. That, in my opinion, is a sign of a great read. If you like YA, read this. If you like fanfiction/fandoms, read this. If you just like a really great story, read this. I cannot wait to read Rainbow Rowell's next novel, Landline (info found here on her site) - another adult book!
Happy reading :)