on September 10, 2013
Amazon • Indiebound • Goodreads
In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, 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?
Oh, Rainbow. Rainbow, Rainbow, Rainbow. How do you do this to me every time? With each book I think I can’t possibly love you, or your characters any more than the last, and you prove me wrong. Every time.
You gave me brutal, agonizing, terribly perfect first love in Eleanor & Park. Giddy grins and a serious thing for shoulders in Attachments. And this time, in Fangirl, you gave me part of myself.
This is an important book, written at a very important time. I don’t know if it’s just the case of the internet making everything more visible, but it feels like more people than ever are becoming involved in one fandom or another lately. It’s fascinating, and a little crazy, and I think so so wonderful.
Fangirl is the first book I’ve read that contained the word ‘fandom’ and used it correctly–with all the connotations it holds, of community, and passion, and obsession, and just pure, outright love. It’s the first book that not only mentioned fanfiction without derision, but spoke of the intention and devotion behind it.
It’s the first book I’ve read that truly understood and celebrated the growing culture of fandom, and in doing so, I think became an incredibly meaningful story for those who give so much of their lives to it.
Certainly for me. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a character I could identify with as much as Cath.
Cath who lives off peanut butter and granola bars for the entire first semester, because the thought of going to the cafeteria makes her anxious.
“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t google.) Like, where does the line start? What food can you take? Where are you supposed to stand, then where are you supposed to sit? Where do you go when you’re done, why is everyone watching you?…Bah.”
Cath who is awkward and weird, and not really all that interested in making new friends.
“Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and mildly socially retarded, I’m a complete disaster.”
Cath who loves to write, and is so good she qualifies for a senior level writing class, but can’t seem to focus on anything but her Simon Snow (think Harry Potter) fanfiction. Because that’s safe. That she knows she can do, and do well. Because when nothing else in her life makes sense, she can always fall back into the world of Simon and Baz, and lose herself in the familiar.
Cath who goes to great lengths to be alone, but who never feels alone when she has her computer near.
Until, of course, she falls for a boy who makes her question whether there isn’t more to life than Simon Snow.
What I love most about Fangirl is that even though Cath undergoes immense emotional growth throughout the story, never once does she stop being herself. She doesn’t make friends, and fall in love, and then suddenly realize she didn’t need Simon Snow after all. She didn’t leave her world; she expanded it.
And I think that’s such an important difference.
Okay. I’ve tried to be all analytical and actually talk about this book like a normal person, but really all I want to say is Fangirl made me so happy, and I swooned really hard, and since when am I attracted to receding hairlines and obscene eyebrows, oh I guess since Rainbow Rowell wrote Levi, and anyway everyone needs to read this.
Ahem. Okay. It’s out of my system now. Sorry about that.
This review also appears on GoodReads. An advance copy was provided by the publisher.