Fangirl. Rainbow Rowell. One of the most hyped books of 2013, and was it worth it? Worth the read? Definitely yes. Worth all the hype? Probably not. Fangirl is the story of Cath who’s moving away from home and going to college with her twin sister Wren. Cath and Wren (Catherine, geddit?) have been inseparable since birth, sharing a room and doing absolutely everything together. Where Wren goes – Cath goes. They’ve always been a package deal, but that’s all about to change. Although they’re off to the same college, Wren decided it was time to spend some time apart and is sharing a room with a complete stranger, forcing Cath to do the same. Cath is a massive nerd. She loves Simon Snow (ahem, Harry Potter), and spent most of her high school years writing fan fiction under the name ‘Magicath’. Being at college doesn’t change that and Cath refuses to let go of her Simon Snow obsession. Wren has always been the sociable twin, with Cath preferring to curl up in her bedroom reading books and writing fanfic but whilst she desperately tries to resist growing up at college, of course, a boy comes along to change that. Fangirl is the story of Cath growing up and settling into her first year of college – navigating new friends, new relationships and a new environment.
Cath is probably a pretty accurate description of most people reading Fangirl (or at least what fangirls claim to be like). She’d rather be alone in her room, reading a good book, than making out with guys and getting drunk at frat parties. She likes having her own personal space and doesn’t like it when people she’s not familiar with encroach on it, so having a stranger as a roommate in college is an issue for her. Cath evidently suffers from social anxiety and the description of this seems pretty spot on and gives a great insight into the minds of those that we perceive to be ‘anti-social’. The problem with this is that it really slowed the plot down and not a lot happened for the first part of the book. I found it really hard to get into because there weren’t really any major developments and I was expecting this to be a ‘plot’ book. This book really is all about Cath and as a coming of age drama, I think this book has hit the nail on the head. I’m sure many readers will be able to relate to Cath which is why this book is so popular, but unfortunately I just couldn’t get over the slow pace and Cath’s character development wasn’t enough for me.
Of course, there is some romance in Fangirl, but this (surprisingly) isn’t the main event. It was nice to read a young adult novel in which the young girl’s sole was not to find a boyfriend and have her first kiss. Of course, lots of these exist, but there are many more that don’t. Cath is trying to figure out everything in Fangirl, boys is just one of the things on a long list of developments and whilst the relationship between Levi and Cath is adorable, it’s more about how Cath develops as a result of this.
Friendship is an equally large theme in this story as Cath is almost as completely new to making friends as she is to talking to boys. Cath’s relationship with her roommate is a funny one, but it felt genuine. I find stories in which two girl roommates immediately become best friends incredibly annoying and unrealistic. I had a roommate last year, someone who I was already friends with, and I still found the first two weeks of living with him incredibly difficult and weird. The relationship between Cath and Reagan, her roommate, develops slowly and to be honest you’re never really sure whether they’re going to become best friends or enemies. Reagan really helps Cath come out of her shell and their relationship demonstrates the power of true friends.
All in all, Fangirl was a great read, but the internet prepared me for an incredible read and unfortunately, that’s not what I found. It is undoubtedly a great read for those who are currently going through change as themes such as moving away from home, trying to navigate college, making new friends etc. are discussed. I think it was the slow pace that really brought this book down in my opinion, but for others that might not be a problem. There were some bits that I really enjoyed and sped through, but there were also a lot of passages in which I felt myself becoming disinterested. This book is really about character development, rather than plot development and evidently at the time of reading this, I was looking for something a bit more exciting. This book fell short of my expectations, but I can certainly see why so many other people were such big fans of it. I’d highly recommend Fangirl to young girls who are still at an age where they’re trying to find themselves and figure out who they are and, of course, to fangirls.
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on 11 August 2015
When I started reading this book I thought '3 stars', after awhile it '4 stars' by the end it was '5 freaking stars!!!'. What did I like about this book - EVERYTHING.
I liked the story, I know the twin thing has been done before, but I always find twins interesting. I liked the family drama - all families have dramas and it is interesting to see how each family resolves theirs. I liked the first love - so well written. I even got into the Simon Snow, I wish they had been more.
Then there are the characters. Cather. I loved Cather, she reminded me of myself at 18, only she is more brave and less socially inept. I loved how she grew as a person and how by the end, instead of hiding from the world, she was claiming her place in it.
Wren. I liked her by the end. I got that she needed a break from the twin thing but she was brutal about it and the mom thing was a betrayal the way she did it - she should have been upfront and honest. As for the necklace, I am writing my own fanfiction (in my head) as to what I would have done with it.
Levi. I fell in love with him myself.
Reagan. Who know she would have a heart of gold under the brusque exterior?
Nick oh Nick. I loved when Reagan asked Cather ''I this yours?',' and later when she was looking at him 'like she was already tying him to the railroad tracks'. I wouldn't tie him to tracks - I'd think of something much more painful!
The parents. Art is a great dad but I found Laura more interesting. Yes leaving your kids is s crappy thing to do, but maybe staying and being a crappy mom would be worse. I would love to know her backstory so I am reserving judgement. Fangirl is fab, I recommend this book.
on 15 June 2014
It is going to be very hard for me to not to fangirl ;-) all through this review because I absolutely loved it. I have it on my Kindle but believe me, I will be buying a physical copy so I can re-read it in all its tactile glory.
Fangirl tells the story of Cath as she starts university and all the troubles that that entails for the incredibly shy introvert that Cath is. Making this big scary step even scarier is the fact that her twin sister Wren wants to go her own way in university – to not room with Cath and develop her own circle of friends separate from Cath. Cath’s only escape from the real world is her love of Simon Snow (think Harry Potter) and the fanfiction she writes about his world. On top of this, she has to deal with a gruff never there roommate and her always there boyfriend, a cute classmate who is only interested in her for one thing but it’s not what you think and a writing professor who wants her to expand her writing outside of fanfiction. Plus, a dad who is not coping so well now he’s on his own and absent mother who wants back in her life. Phew!
I loved Cath from the get-go, she is a girl after my own fangirl heart, we may obsess over different things – I don’t write or read fanfiction but I understand why people do – but both our obsessions make the real world a bit more bearable. She is so realistically drawn (as are all the characters) that as a fellow introvert, it is easy to connect with her. I adored Levi (the roommate’s always there boyfriend) and I want one for myself, he is just simply, well, adorable. It took a little while for me to warm up to Cath’s twin Wren and her roommate Reagan, but once I did, I loved them too.
I really liked how important relationships were in this book - parent/child, siblings, friends and lovers. Her relationship with her dad is so cute; I wish the relationship with my dad was like that. As much as Cath could happily shut herself off from the real world and only having contact with her dad and sister, she learns that she needs other people – real life people.
The character growth for Cath was realistic – she didn’t suddenly become an extrovert but she did slowly come out of her shell, although not all the way, which again is realistic. Speaking of slow developing, the romance was also on slow boil and was super sweet.
I also really liked that every chapter ended with either an excerpt from a Simon Snow novel or from Cath’s own fanfiction. It was like a story within a story, a story that I wish was real because I really like Baz – Simon Snow’s nemesis, roommate and maybe lover.
I recommend this book to anyone who loves contemporaries, coming of age stories, romances and books with socially awkward characters. If you read and loved Eleanor and Park by Rowell, you will love this too.
Thank you Rainbow Rowell, for your wonderful books and your real and relatable characters.
on 4 June 2014
I’m fangirling over Fangirl.
In America, Cath and Wren have moved away to be at University. From the very beginning, it’s everything I hoped the book would be and so much more. Cath is in her own little world. All she wants to do is write. There’s nothing wrong with that. Writing got a lot of people very far in the world. But she’s not much of a social butterfly either. That’s where I found a link with Cath. Neither of us like going out of our way to join in. We’re used to our surroundings and when new ones are around us, we become nervous.
If you’ve got a copy of Fangirl, you’ll know about the drawings on the inside of the front cover. I heard about this a few weeks before I started reading and my first thought was, “oh, that’s rather clever.” But now that I’ve read and fallen in love with the book, I’m not so sure anymore. Upon several chapters, especially the beginning ones, I found myself flicking back to the front cover and looking at the drawings of the characters. I felt that if I wasn’t imagining them in the correct way, I wasn’t going to get the full effect of the book. It didn’t necessarily put me off, it’s just not something which really added to the plot for me.
The little snippets of the Simon Snow books were brilliant and a lot like Harry Potter (no complaints from me!). I loved how we got a sense of what genre Cath loves and while she reminded us of her favourite scenes, we also fell in love with the story. But more importantly, we fell in love with her story of Simon. Reading Rainbow writing about Cath writing about Simon was genius. It added a lot of depth and power to the plot,.
What I enjoyed the most was that through the use of great literature and writing, Cath grew closer to people and she slowly came out of her little bubble. It was an absolute delight to watch in front of my eyes and I loved how she matured over the first year at University. As well as being at school, Cath dealt with other issues; her twin sister, her Dad and her Mum. I couldn’t relate to the drama she had with her Mum but it was emotional to read about.
When Rainbow writes about Cath and Levi in the later chapters, it’s as if nobody else is around. I didn’t care for any other characters or whether my cup of tea was still hot or not, I just wanted to be in the moment with them. Readers aren’t made to feel like a third wheel, they’re made to feel as if they’re part of Cath and they’re falling madly in love with Levi. He’s hot. He really is.
Rainbow’s writing style is comfortable. I don’t mean that in a boring way! I felt at home with her writing and this is the first book of hers which I’ve read. With the use of adjectives, vivid descriptions and incredible dialogue, Rainbow proves that by being yourself, true love will come and knock on your door, or sit out in the hallway..
I have to mention the ending and don’t worry, no spoilers! For me, it was short and it was the only issue I had. It didn’t really tie up any loose ends. I closed the book and said “is that it?” I just hope and pray that Rainbow has secretly been writing a second book for the second year of University so we can know what happens.
Other than that, I loved it and I can’t wait to meet Rainbow when she visits the UK in July.
on 28 March 2016
I discovered this book a couple of years ago on Amazon, but I always put off reading it. Then, when visiting my best friend, I discovered that it was her favourite book. She thrust her beautiful hardcover copy into my hands and whispered, read it.
At first, the book starts off quite slowly. We are introduced to Cath & Wren (like Catherine, gettit?), a set of identical twins who have made the big move to a university hours away from their home, where they leave their single Dad, Art, lives. Very quickly we learn that Cath & Wren are huge fans of a series of books called Simon Snow (very similar to Harry Potter), and they're not just casual fans, these girls are full out fangirls. They know the books inside out, they go to events dressed like the characters and, most importantly, they write fanfiction. Specifically, gay fanfiction about Simon Snow and his arch nemesis, Baz. But now they are in college, and Wren appears to have grown out of her fangirling days, whereas Cath is more obsessed than ever. She's determined to please her thousands of fans on fanfixx (like wattpad) with her biggest fanfiction yet - Carry On. She feeds all her stress and anxiety about her new school, living separately from her twin, new "friends", and studying for her Literature classes, into writing about Simon and Baz.
I really love Cath's character. At first I was hesitant to invest her, as her anxiety disorder & fangirl tendencies seemed to be overplayed, but once I was a few chapters in and I began to understand her character more (in a single-parent family, etc), I realised that Rainbow's portrayal of anxiety disorder and fangirl culture was actually really well done. Now that I've had time to reflect on the book, I realise that the reason I didn't like Cather initially was because I saw so much of myself in her. I also come from a very difficult family background, which has made me an incredibly anxious person, who would rather read a book and fangirl over celebrities and fictional characters on Tumblr, than spend time with friends in the outside world. What I like about Rainbow's writing is she never once makes Cath look over-sensitive or silly because of her anxiety, everything she does makes sense. There's always logic behind Cath's actions, so although on the surface some of her actions seem silly, to someone with General Anxiety it makes perfect sense. In fact, Rainbow manages to pull this off with every character in the book (which is where a lot of authors fall short, in my opinion. Whether it's tapping their fingers or drinking excessively, every character has solid reasons for their actions. They are all beautifully flawed. So, rather than just falling in love with one or two of the characters, you end up deeply caring about every character that makes an appearance, and itching to find out more about their background. For me, these characters were so well rounded that I could easily see them as a living, breathing person. Well done Rainbow!
The plot is also really strong. I love the rhythm the story had, it felt like a waltz. There were highs and lows, but in a very gentle way. On the surface it may seem like nothing is going to really happen, perhaps Cath will fall in love and that's about it, but this book is so much more than a love story. There are really strong and powerful family problems that Cath has to deal with, and they are all dealt with in a very respectful and gentle manner. It's also a story of self-discovery, and friendship. Not just for Cath, but for many of the characters in the book. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the story, and I was wishing for it to carry on for another hundred pages or so.
The only thing I didn't enjoy about the book was the snippets of the Simon & Baz stories. I'm not into magic & vampires, so I didn't love their pages. However, it was nice to see Cath's "writing", and to understand her obsession a bit more.
In conclusion, then, I loved this book. As soon as I had finished reading it, I got the urge to read it again, and almost a week later that urge still hasn't gone. I can see this becoming my go-to book when I'm sad or stressed, and in the need for a warm hug (the best books feel like a hug, don't you think?). If you are a fan of romance novels than this book is definitely for you!
on 6 June 2015
I love this book! I read it first a year ago and could have sworn I'd reviewed it then, but apparently not. Having just re-read it cover to cover I get the chance to talk about it now instead!
The book starts with shy nervous Cath moving in to her college dorm and resenting the fact that her sister is moving away from her, to a dorm across the campus with a girl she's already made friends with. Meanwhile Cath has the grumpy Reagan, a girl a couple of years older than her as a roommate. The story follows Cath as she adjusts to university life. I really wish I had this book in my first year of university, because it would have helped me so much seeing a character experience the problems I was. Because my first year sucked - I massively struggled to make friends, and I stayed in my flat a lot of the time when I wasn't in classes or studying at the library. Gradually, Reagan drags Cath out of her shell a bit to face things like the dining hall.
There are a couple of other big things happening in this book for Cath. She's writing a long fanfiction, essentially her version of the last 'Simon Snow' novel (about a boy at a school for magicians) which is releasing at the end of the class year. Cath is determined to finish her version of it before the real one is published, and she has thousands of readers wanting to know what happens next in her story. She's taking a creative writing course and working on assignments with Nick, who loves to write as much as she does, and they are each helping each other to improve. But Nick never walks her home from the library at midnight. Levi, Reagan's (maybe) boyfriend comes to do that, or Cath runs back by herself. So she likes Nick, but....
Then her sister is getting drunk at parties, worrying Cath. And her Dad seems to be struggling having the house to himself without his daughters around. And their mum, who left when they were younger, wants to get back in touch with them. Why now, thinks Cath? But her twin wants to see their mum, and Cath just can't understand why.
All these threads are woven together really well. So although the story is following Cath through her year, it's never boring. The decline and then mending of her relationship with her sister was really well told. Her adjustments to life at university were something I could really relate to and it shows that even if you struggle at first, which lots of people do, you'll figure it out, you'll adjust, and then university really can be a great place. Cath changes over the book, in some ways quite a lot, but it is all believable change because you can see the various tipping points in the story that impact her. And if you needed any more reasons to love it, the end of each chapter has an 'excerpt' either from the 'real' Simon Snow stories, or from one of Cath's fanfics about the characters, which are all fun to read and give a snapshot into the world Cath loves so much.
This is a wonderfully told story with characters who are all believable. If you've ever been a fanfiction writer, a fangirl or boy for a series, a struggling uni student, I highly recommend this book. And if you weren't any of those things, read it anyway, because it's great. There's a gradual romance, family drama, drama with Cath's classes... so many great things.
I really love this book, and I'm absolutely giving it 10/10.
[Review originally posted on my book review blog, link in my profile.]
on 5 November 2014
There are some books that come into your life and sweep you off your feet. You know they haven't been written just for you, but it feels like they have. Fangirl is one of those books for me. I love it like asdfghjkl...or heart eye emoji...or squeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
Fangirl is essentially a coming of age story, beginning as twins Cath and Wren leave for University. Whereas they were once inseparable, the girls are forging their own identities, Wren more easily than Cath. Cath seeks solace by writing fan fiction- pages and pages of stories about Simon Snow (he's a bit of a Harry Potter type character). Online she has an army of followers waiting for fan fiction updates, but in reality Cath is awkward- unsure about her room mate, adrift from her sister, worried about her Dad...and that is without the added issue of her Mum suddenly wanting to make contact after leaving on September 11th. Yes, the September 11th.
Admittedly, one of the reasons I love Fangirl so much is the subject matter. I'm one of those weirdo geeks that writes fan fiction about their favourite band and posts it online, and I read all kinds of strange shit that other people post (like the one where Josh, the drummer and Dan, the guitarist are gay and they adopt baby One Direction. That was just plain weird). So although fan fiction and general all round obsession with a programme/band/book series might be difficult for some readers to relate to, I was super duper excited to find there was a book out there about 'us'. The writers no one notices unless you're one of the big hitters who gets snapped up by a publisher, becomes a cult smash and gets their story made into a film (EL James, I hate you).
Like Rainbow Rowell's other novels, it is hugely character driven. Cath is instantly likable. She's quiet and withdrawn. She seems inexperienced, both in relationships and life in general. She's full of anxiety, too nervous to venture to the dinner hall for fear of making some kind of social faux pas. She prefers the world in her head to the real world. All this made her so easy to warm to- I wanted to be her friend, write with her and watch Simon Snow films, hiding away from the big, bad world.
I also fell completely in love with Levi, the guy Cath meets through her roommate Reagan. He's a bit of a strange one in that he blows hot and cold, but he strongly believes in the importance of family and that is exceptionally attractive. He's caring, which he shows via meaningful gestures not just hollow words. And he's clever. Maybe not in a conventional way, but he is. And he's hard working, and he has a scent all of his own, and, and, and.... He's not flawless by any stretch, but he's magnetic. New book boyfriend alert....
I wasn't prepared to devote so many emotional feels (good fangirl word there!) into Cath, or Levi, or Wren, and certainly not her mentally ill Dad, and that was a mistake. Because by the end I was a blubbering mess, physically wrung out. Rainbow Rowell taps into the pain that is all around us-insecurity, anxiety, peer pressure, depression- and squeezes every little bit of emotion out of her readers, which is why she is so hugely popular. People can relate to her characters, and want to believe they'll get a happy ending, or at least some kind of resolution or inner peace.
As Wren says to Cath-
“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”
on 3 September 2014
We all have that one book we can just relate to, right? The one that has words that seem like they came right from our own minds? This is that book for me.
How do I even start this review? I have so much love for this book that it’s hard to put into words. I’ll try my best to form something of an actual review, rather than just endless paragraphs of fangirling about Fangirl.
Fangirl follows fanfiction writer, Cath, as she heads to the big wide world of college. And for the first time, she has to cope with life without her twin, Wren, who has decided that they shouldn’t be roommates.
I absolutely adored Cath. She is such a wonderful character and I loved reading her story. I feel like she’ll be very relatable to a lot of readers out there, and she definitely connects with the target audience. The changes her and Wren face as they go college is so realistically written, and I loved seeing how their relationship was affected throughout the story.
The fanfiction side of this story was brilliant and definitely a unique selling point. I think actually being able to read the fanfiction that Cath was writing was awesome, and it created a small fantasy story within the story itself, which was great.
Cath’s growth throughout the story was written beautifully. I loved seeing her adjust to this new chapter and finally learning to let people into her life. This is a book very much about family and moving forward, it’s not just a typical YA romance story.
But whilst we’re on the subject of romance, I do have to mention my love for Levi. His constant smiling and general enthusiasm for life made him such an enjoyable character to read about. I found myself looking forward to the interaction between him and Cath. His acceptance of her personality and interests was sweet, and it certainly made me wish there were more guys like Levi out there in the world.
All of the other characters were wonderful in their own way. The story definitely is true to real life by showing the variety of different people you meet when you go to college, and how find yourself becoming friends with people you never in a million years thought that you would.
Fangirl is a fun yet extremely heartfelt story, and it’s one that will stay with me for a long time. If you haven’t yet picked up this book, then I really suggest you should. It’s honest and beautiful, and you will fall in love with it.
on 20 August 2014
Cath and Wren are identical twins and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not to easy for Cath. She would rather bury herself in the fanfiction she writes where there’s romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.
Fangirl is a contemporary novel that follows Cath as she ventures outside of her home and her fanfiction to experience university life firsthand. One of the main reasons that I adored this novel so much was due to the fact that I related so much to Cath; her social anxiety and desire to lose herself within the realms of her imagination is something that strongly resonated with me. Whereas Cath is subdued and wonderfully geeky, her twin sister Wren is bold and outspoken with a seeming desire to put as much distance between herself and her sister as much as she possibly can. University is looking bleak for Cath; with only Simon and Baz to turn to as she feels the isolation and loneliness that so many undergraduates do as they begin their new lives independently. That is, however, until she allows herself to open up and becomes fast friends with Reagen who is Cath’s boyish (and often intimidating) roommate. It is through Reagen that Cath meets the incredibly quirky and humorous young man, Levi. Unlike other YA fiction, Cath and Levi’s romance is a slow and steady burn that builds up over time as they encounter realistic issues and obstacles along the way as the reader is rooting for their incredibly sweet and chaste relationship.
Fangirl has become one of my favourite novels; Rowell writes in a manner that is both realistically contemporary and beautifully literary so that it ensnares the readers deeper into the twin’s story until we can’t help but feel irreparable sadness as we turn the last page and the journey ends. To put it simply, I loved everything about it. I loved the front cover, which was so beautiful that I took care to use as much delicacy as I could muster when turning the pages. I loved the Simon Snow series wikipedia entry which allowed me as a reader to suspend my belief and truly immerse myself in Rowell’s world. Finally, I loved the Simon Snow excerpts as it gives the reader an insight as to what it is that the twin’s adore so much. This novel is not just a story that revolves around a fangirl; this novel focuses on family relationships, mental illness, irrevocable love and what it truly means to flourish as you set out to start the beginning of your life. It is a perfect coming of age story, and I can’t recommend it enough!
on 15 June 2014
A proof copy of this came through at the library for my Teen reading group, but seeing as most of them read high fantasy none of them seemed overly eager. I'm going to the London Comic Con next month and there is an author fair there this year and Rowell is one of the guest authors, so I decided I might as well give it a go.
Cath is making the big move to University, and she is terrified, she's always had her sister by her side, but she's decided to go it alone, a different dorm and different classes. Cath ends up sharing a room with Reagan - a surly girl who really isn't interested in having a room-mate and her ever present boyfriend Levi.
All Cath wants to do is write her fan-fiction based on the best selling Book Series 'Simon Snow'. She posts her fan-fic online and now has thousands and thousands of readers following her. It's what she is good at and all she really knows how to do. But life has to continue and Cath must discover what it's like to live in reality.
I was really pleased with this book, I instantly felt hooked and like a had a connection to the characters, particularly Cath. I never went to Uni and I don't write fan-fiction but I could really relate to her nervousness and naivety about the world and the feeling that everything was too big and too scary. Coming to terms with the fact that you have to just go out and take the plunge sometimes and you'll be amazed what you can find.
Cath is very intelligent too, she is very capable and bright and actually has a sharp sense of humour, she's instantly likeable, as is Levi - the lovely Levi. He is probably my favourite character, so sweet, so funny, so cute.
All the characters have unique but relate-able personalities - like we all know someone who is just like them, so realistic.
So basically this story follows Cath through her first year at University, all the highs and the lows, school work, family problems, and even first romance.
There was something just so captivating about this book I found myself finding excuses to be able to read and picking it up in every spare minute, I had to know where it went and what happened. And even a few days later (I've been delayed writing the review) I am still thinking about it and wishing there was more.
I haven't read Rainbow Rowell before but I will definitely be looking up some of her other books.