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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this.
This was a very well written book that I would be happy for my daughters to read. It is about a twin trying to find her place in the world. Having always been part of a pair, she struggles when her sister decides that she wants some independence and chooses to share a room with someone else at college. She also has to cope with a Bipolar father, who raised them and the...
Published 12 months ago by Teen romance lover

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but lacking in some ways
Review also available on my blog:[...]
Hey guys!

I know I’m a bit late to jump on the Fangirl bandwagon. With everybody raving about it I went into this book with very high expectations. Even with the odds against it, in my view, I did enjoy Fangirl. However, although the book was good, I did find it lacking some things.

I’ll start...
Published 2 months ago by Molly Gibson-Mee


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this., 11 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fangirl (Kindle Edition)
This was a very well written book that I would be happy for my daughters to read. It is about a twin trying to find her place in the world. Having always been part of a pair, she struggles when her sister decides that she wants some independence and chooses to share a room with someone else at college. She also has to cope with a Bipolar father, who raised them and the reappearance of a mother whom left them when they were eight. Add this altogether with falling in love properly for the first time and an obsession for fan fiction and you have the makings of a really good read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful YA novel that will resonate with all ages, 13 Oct 2013
This review is from: Fangirl (Hardcover)
As someone who didn't necessarily love college at the beginning I really connected with Cath and her uneasy, introverted nature. However, Fangirl's strength is that there is a whole host of characters that really will cover the majority of the spectrum of potential readers. Cath's university experience is juxtaposed with that of happy-go-lucky Levi; the brutally honest and confident Reagan; and Wren, her sister, who doesn't find herself at college but rather loses herself in the experience.

In Cath's proverbial jump from little to big pond she has to navigate that terrifying moment of embarking on new friendships, filtering out those who are only there for themselves along the way, as well as learning how to leave her home behind while still managing to be there for her family. While adept online Cath also struggles to find her voice in her new classes, a universal theme we all encounter when we take that little step up.

The relationships that Cath builds in the novel, both platonic and romantic, are slow to blossom and all the more realistic for being so. None of the relationships hit you over the head and sometimes you do find yourself questioning where they are going, like real life relationships. As in Eleanor & Park I think that Rowell's strength lies in her honest portrayal of young, vulnerable relationships.

As with Rowell's previous novels her writing is really what makes Fangirl excel as a truly captivating novel. The simplicity of her language and the effortless feel of the dialogue make Fangirl a fun, fluid, and unaffected read that will keep you engaged until the end. Additionally, while the story does seem light and relatively uncomplicated, there is a distinct sharper edge that slowly creeps up on you and lends the book a lingering air that'll keep you thinking about it long after you've finished it.

Unlike a lot of other YA novels there is nothing really OTT about Rowell's second venture into the genre, the story succeeds because of its simplicity and its easy relatibility. While perhaps not as powerful as Eleanor & Park, Fangirl is a wonderful coming of age novel that I think will resonate with readers of all ages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but lacking in some ways, 14 July 2014
This review is from: Fangirl (Paperback)
Review also available on my blog:[...]
Hey guys!

I know I’m a bit late to jump on the Fangirl bandwagon. With everybody raving about it I went into this book with very high expectations. Even with the odds against it, in my view, I did enjoy Fangirl. However, although the book was good, I did find it lacking some things.

I’ll start with the negatives. At the end of each chapter there was an extract from either the Simon Snow books (the fictional books which the protagonist, Cath, fangirls over) or from Cath’s fanfiction of these books. When I first heard about extracts being used in a review I read before the book, I was really excited and interested in how Rowell would utilise them. The problem, for me, is that the extracts, particularly from the Simon Snow books, seemed completely irrelevant to the book. I mean, once you’ve grasped that Simon Snow is meant to be Harry Potter you don’t really care about tiny, irrelevant extracts from it. Cath’s fanfiction, although more relevant as it gives the reader an insight into how her mind works, does seem detached from the main story. It would have been better if, say, the Simon Snow extracts gave some message that reflected the previous chapter, or how Cath felt. Or if the extracts were from Cath’s updates of her main fic Carry On, Simon and we could see how her fic developed as she developed. Even the extracts from fics written years before this book is set could have been used to contrast how Cath writes alone and how she writes with Wren. But none of this happened in any of the extracts and I had to force myself to read them at the end of each chapter, hoping they became relevant. I asked my sister about it and she said that when she read Fangirl she just skipped over the extracts.

The ending was disappointing for me. There was a steady build up to the release of the eighth Simon Snow book and the anticipation to finish Carry On, Simon. But the ending kind of flopped for me. This could be because Rowell didn’t want to give the book a sense of finality so she could return to the world later, but I still would have liked more information on how the eight book affected Cath, how she finished Carry On, Simon and just generally a bit more of a closed ending considering this is a stand-alone.

But the thing that bugged me most about this book is how narrow its perspective is. When you tackle something like fandom (particularly if fandoms are close to your heart like mine) and name your book Fangirl, you’re taking on a massive thing. There are hundreds of fandoms and hundreds of fanpeople(?) and each person in that fandom has something they enjoy/contribute e.g making videos/graphics, writing fanfiction, writing songs, cosplay etc. Inevitably some people are going to be disappointed. When I heard that Fangirl was a YA book about fandom I was expecting all this to be incorporated. So when I discovered it was just about fanfiction I was kind of disappointed. I think the most important thing about fandoms and fangirls is the sense of community, support and understanding you get. The main downfall for me was that Fangirl had no real sense of fandom community and was focused on Cath individually. There was nothing about Cath talking to other fangirls, or interacting with anybody online. We all have a few people who we talk to regularly online and perhaps even consider friends. I would have expected somebody like Cath, like ME, would be talking lots to online friends about a big experience like university. I also wanted there to be a more universal view of the fandom, more fanart, more videos, graphics, cosplay, songs etc. Let me reiterate. I enjoyed Fangirl a lot. But I think when you sell a book as Fangirl and being about fandom you need to make it more elaborate. Fangirls don’t just write fanfiction. We communicate and socialise with other people online. Frequently. I felt like Fangirl stuck to the fanfiction but didn’t expand. Which isn’t bad, but if you sell a book as a book about a fangirl, I expected…more fangirling.

However, that being said, Fangirl was a lovely book. Everyone has different opinions about what is most important in a book: plot, setting, description, dialogue. For me, I think it’s the characters. Even if the plot is mindblowingly good, if the characters are rubbish then the plot doesn’t work and the book fails for me. I loved the characters in Fangirl. I have social anxiety and hearing about Cath’s nerves about university (e.g. going to the dining hall/finding a seat) is something I know I’ll get nervous about too. Reading this so close to uni with a protagonist so like me was almost reassuring me that uni will be okay. Cath’s only downside was the fact she handed in fanfiction as her own work and got upset when her teacher called it plagiarism. What else did she expect?? That aside Cath is a lovely and relatable character. I also loved Wren and the adorable (and refreshingly understanding) Levi. But my favourite has to be Reagan. I love her character as she is so real. She’s spiky but sweet and I think it’s great how she doesn’t try to understand Cath but accepts her.

Overall, Fangirl is a wonderful book about coming of age and facing scary but inevitable experiences like university. I was just disappointed by the fact it was sold as Fangirl but only incorporated one element of fandom and no real sense of the vital community that fandoms produce.

3 stars.

How did you find Fangirl? :)

-Molly
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instantly relatable!, 10 Sep 2013
This review is from: Fangirl (Kindle Edition)
Disclosure: I won a free copy of this book from the publisher and this review was originally posted on my blog.

I've heard great things about Rainbow Rowell's books and they've been on my wishlist for a while. When I won a copy of Fangirl I was over the moon! Fangirl tells the story of Cather, a devotee of the Simon Snow book series and writer of Simon Snow fanfiction, as she starts college and has to juggle being a freshman and being a fangirl.

So I was already excited by the subject matter of that book, and that excitement level only went up once I actually started it. Because this book is just so me. I think anyone who's been involved with any kind of online fandom will absolutely adore this book because it just stirred up so many memories of experiences I've had in my own life, and it had all these little references that made me squeal. I mean a main character who writes fanfiction?! I'm still so happy that Fangirl has made that a thing. I actually had to text my friend and recommend her this book as I was reading it because she writes fanfiction and I just felt the need to let her know this book existed. Plus I have a confession: I have written fanfiction. And you know what? In the past that has been something that I've hidden from people because I was embarrassed. Not anymore. In fact reading this book has made me want to log into my sadly neglected fanfiction.net account, find a load of new fics to read and then finish writing all my unfinished fics.

So Fangirl was already off to a pretty good start. Then I got to know the main character, Cather, and well I just fell in love with this book a whole lot more. Not only is Cath a fangirl with a huge talent at writing fanfiction, she is also shy, socially awkward and completely lovable. I just felt this affinity with her straight away because I share her worrying nature. Like there's this thing in the book where she's too scared to go to the dining hall because she doesn't know where it is and she's too scared to ask and she's worried that even if she did know where it was and went there that she wouldn't know how the system worked and she'd get something wrong. I instantly recognised that thought process from myself when facing new social situations. I mean sometimes life is just too confusing! I was just relieved I'm not alone when it comes to this kind of thing and Fangirl gave me the ability to laugh at myself and the ridiculous-ness of it all.

There's also the fact that Cath is a twin, and is sort of living in the shadow of her sister Wren. Wren is determined to be more independent now that the two of them have started college, so Cath kind of gets left behind as Wren goes off and has the confidence to make new friends and do new things. I loved how the relationship between them had its ups and downs. There's that great theme of discovering yourself and growing up and trying to make it in the big wide world. I really felt for Cath as she struggles to adjust to all those changes. Plus I was just totally excited to read a book about twins. I've secretly always wanted to be a twin. I blame The Parent Trap. I love books focused on sister relationships too because they make me think about the relationship I have with my own sister.

So this review is already turning out to be a lot of gushing and I haven't even got to Levi yet. I love Levi. He and Cath are so different yet they have such brilliant chemistry. When Cath starts college she's kind of a bit hopeless with boys. She's with her current boyfriend Abel because he's a safe choice, but finally she's starting to have her eyes opened to the lovely guys out there. And Levi is one of them. I loved that he takes the time to talk to her and get to know her, and that he really brings out the best in her. He's caring and thoughtful and hilarious. I think he gets safely bumped to the top of my "favourite male characters" list. I adored Cath's roommate Reagan too. She's so full of attitude and has that wicked brutal honesty.

Whilst the characters were a huge strong point for me, the plot also kept my attention all the way through. There's some really heartbreaking moments as well as some really uplifting ones. I loved the journey Cath and her family go on throughout the book, especially the relationship with the girls and their dad. Not everything is plain sailing and there's some testing times. The book has this great build up with both the end of the school year and the final Simon Snow book release coinciding, so all the time you kind of see everything working towards those two points.

I loved that there were little snippets of the Simon Snow books as well as Cath's fanfiction dotted throughout the book between chapters. I think it helped me get caught up in Cath's world and experience what she was going through with those characters. I also really liked the fact that Cath was an aspiring writer who was struggling to break out of writing just fanfiction. So many aspiring writers like myself start out with fanfiction so it was something I could really relate to.

Getting back onto the topic of fandom, I just loved being able to relate to all of it. When Cath was putting her Simon Snow posters up in her dorm room, I was looking up at my Harry Potter ones on my wall. I feel like Rowell has tapped into that world perfectly in a way that really makes me proud to have been so wrapped up in a fandom like Cath is. Of course you can see all the Harry Potter parallels in the book which makes it even more brilliant.

I can't tell you how heartbroken I was to finish this book. I just loved spending time with the characters so much that I didn't want it to end! I got so caught up in every part of Cath's life, to the point where I was dying for the last Simon Snow book to come out in the story so I could see her reaction to it. And it's so rare that a book leaves me wanting to really act upon the feelings I had whilst reading it. Like I said, it's made me want to go and inhale a load of fanfic so I'm going to go and do that right now. Oh and I wish I was a twin even more badly now. I feel like Rowell has captured so many wonderful things about fandom so accurately, as well as creating this wonderful story I couldn't bare to put down. I'll be reading more of her work in the future, that's for sure!
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5.0 out of 5 stars I’ve been waiting my entire life for this book, 3 Sep 2014
This review is from: Fangirl (Paperback)
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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I'm now a Rainbow Rowell Fangirl!, 31 Aug 2014
By 
Sarah (Feeling Fictional) (Kent, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Fangirl (Paperback)
Identical twins Cath and Wren have always done everything together but now they're heading off to college Wren is determined to follow her own path and that doesn't include hanging out with her sister. Wren is the outgoing twin, the one who is excited about meeting new people and going out having fun but Cath is the opposite, she is introverted, shy and struggles to make friends. Cath is happier spending her time alone in her room writing fanfiction but now she no longer has Wren as a shield from the outside world she is forced to reconsider her life. Can she be brave enough to face the world without Wren? Does she have what it takes to stand on her own two feet?

Rainbow Rowell is one of those authors that appeared on the scene and was an immediate success, I have so many friends who have raved about all of her books and I was excited to give one a try. I was a bit nervous that my expectations might be too high but I'm happy to say I was pleasantly surprised and I really enjoyed reading Fangirl. This is a fantastic coming of age story and I really enjoyed seeing Cath grow as a person as she got used to living without Wren by her side as a constant emotional crutch. The relationship between the two sisters was incredibly well written, there were times when I found myself annoyed with Wren and the way she could be so dismissive of Cath but at the same time I could understand her need to live her own life. They have spent their whole lives as half of a whole and for the first time they are experiencing freedom - not just from the normal parental rules but the freedom to discover who they are deep down inside. The freedom to experiment and to start to discover what they really want from life. It's not easy to balance being a good sister and being their own person, Cath tends to cling to hard to her sister where Wren does the opposite and pushes Cath away and they have to try and figure out something that works for them both.

While I liked the relationship between the sisters I think what I enjoyed most was seeing Cath slowly start to come out of her shell with the help of her room mate Reagan. Cath is so used to spending her time writing Simon Snow fanfiction and most of her friends are people she only knows online so it is hard for her to know what to make of Reagan and her best friend Levi. No matter how hard Cath tries to ignore them they are constantly there in her life asking questions and forcing her to interact with them. Cath is pushed out of her comfort zone, she is awkward and utterly clueless in a lot of ways but she is incredibly sweet and endearing at the same time and I loved seeing her grow throughout the story. Reagan and Levi's characters were both fantastic and I loved spending time with all three of them.

I have to admit that I wasn't a fan of the sections we got to read from Cath's fanfiction and if I'm completely honest they actually bored me. I'm the first to admit I'm a geek, there are so many things I love to fangirl over but I've never really been into the whole fanfiction thing - probably because there are so many new books and worlds out there that I want to explore and I would rather just read the author's original stories than wade through someone else's interpretation of things. I've got nothing against fanfiction and I know it's incredibly popular but it's just never appealed to me. I think Cath and I are just different types of geek and there is nothing wrong with that, there was enough about her that I found easy to relate to so even though I wasn't interested in the story she was writing I was interested in HER story.

Fangirl is a great story about discovering who you really are, it's about learning to accept our differences and understanding that they don't matter. It's about being proud of who we are and most of all it's about learning to live in the moment, taking the time to appreciate what is going on around us rather than hiding away behind a computer screen. It's about standing on our own two feet, meeting new people and making new friends but proving that you don't have to change who you are deep inside to find your niche in the world. This is a fab book and I'm definitely looking forward to reading more from Rainbow Rowell in the future.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 stars, 26 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fangirl (Kindle Edition)
I saw this book listed as part of the GoodReads awards earlier this year and loved the look of the front cover, I had a lot of books on my to-read pile, as I always do, so I didn't think much more of it until recently when I saw it advertised on Kindle's daily deal. I snapped it up and couldn't wait long before I made a start.

I devoured the book quickly, I found the story so easy to get into and being a bit of a fangirl myself, I could really relate to how the girls felt.

Fanigrl is the story of Cather Avery, her twin sister Wren, their dad and a few college friends along the way. Cather writes fanfic based on a series of books about a young wizard Simon Snow. A bit of googling confirmed early on that Simon Snow is supposed to be fairly similar to Harry Potter. Cath and Wren's dad is a bit crazy especially when the twins have just started college.

Its basically a beautiful story of confidence, falling in love, fandom, growing up, family, friends and crazy people along the way. Cath is a really relatable character, I could see bits of myself in her.

Wound in between the main story are snippets of the Simon Snow books (created especially for this book but should definitely be a real thing) and also Cath's fan fiction. I thought this really added to the story and was a bit different to anything that I've read in the young-adult genre before.

Definitely recommend Fangirl, to anyone who has ever been part of a fandom, or just been young.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 20 Aug 2014
This review is from: Fangirl (Kindle Edition)
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!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite Rainbow Rowell book - loved it!, 14 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Fangirl (Paperback)
I finished this book a while ago but for some reason didn't write up a review despite loving it, so here it is.
Fangirl is about Cath, a fanfiction writer well-known in the blogging world who is just about to start college with her twin sister Wren. Or should I say, Cath thinks she is starting college with her sister, Wren has other ideas and wants to branch out and meet new people, whilst living on the other side of Campus to Cath. Cath is completely alone and has to navigate the world of the dining hall, lectures and her roommate who seems to strongly dislike her, all on her own.
This book was the first Rainbow Rowell book I've read and I'm glad this was my first. Her writing is somewhat of a comfort to me and having read the book 2 months ago, I still look back on the book as if it was a warm blanket around me. It's hard to explain what I mean, the most accurate way to describe my feelings about the book is to say it comforted me, I felt safe when reading this book, which sounds strange but that's just how I felt.
The characters were lovely and I could identify with Cath for numerous reasons, but not for the reason most people do. I've read a lot of reviews from people who read and/or write fanfiction, so understand this book on a whole other level. Personally, I can't say I've ever read any fanfiction so I don't know the attraction. I identified with Cath's character because of the isolation she felt in her College dorms, her loneliness even when around people and the social anxiety that crippled her from eating in the dining hall. I just loved this book and the characters within it. I intially gave this book a 4 star rating, but upon reflection, have increased this to a 5 and I would most definitely recommend that you pick up this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sweet, charming, 28 Feb 2014
By 
Vanessa F "Vanessa" (Somerset, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fangirl (Kindle Edition)
There comes a time in a geek/nerd/dork’s life when one realises that there’s an entire community out there who are willing to read the stories you wrote about [insert your favourite movie/TV show/book series/musical/play/video game here], and not only that, there is an entire subculture dedicated to it that pre-dates the Internet. Not only can you host your fan-fiction on your own online zine (if you want to get really archaic) or website, you can use communities like LiveJournal and a multitude of fan-fiction sites and forums. All for your perusal!

Did you want Blaise and Draco to have more… romantic interaction in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince? Ever wanted to read about George from Being Human‘s life before he was turned into a werewolf? Did you pick up on a romantic chemistry between two characters and decide they were forevermore your OTP? Do you simply want a cutesy story set in an alternate universe where Dean, Sam and Castiel from Supernatural are rival coffee shop owners? Well, dear reader, AO3, Fanfiction.net, LiveJournal, and countless other sites have you covered.

While there have been more than a few published novels from authors who started in fan-fiction, or even novels that essentially are fan-fiction with the serial numbers filed off, there hasn’t been a novel centring around a main character who does write these stories. Fan-fiction is hardly the niche hobby it used to be, and I’m sure there’s an audience who know all about fan-fiction and perhaps even write it. So why not give them a character they can relate to?

That’s where Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell comes in.

18 year old Cath is a well-known fan-fiction writer for the immensely popular Simon Snow book and movie series. Having latched on to the Simon Snow books and fandom as a crutch during a very painful time in her childhood, Cath is still emotionally stunted and wondering why her twin sister Wren, who was equally obsessed with the series as a youngster, has moved on with her life. Wren now goes to parties while Cath stays in her dorm, hidden behind her laptop screen and writing about the burgeoning romance between the titular Simon, and his arch-rival Baz. Too socially awkward to make friends to begin with, her bolshy roommate Reagan starts to take her out, and that’s where Cath meets Levi, the kind-hearted boy next door who takes an interest in her. By making new friends, learning how to be more social and braving through emotional hardships, Cath learns the valuable lesson that while fandom is a lovely place to hang out in when you have spare time, it’s unhealthy to let it consume your entire life. (I know. I’ve been there.)

In fact, Cath is so consumed by her appreciation for fan-fiction that she actually hands in a Simon Snow story she’s written as an assignment. Thank God she had an understanding professor who simply gave her an F and then told her off, right? Rather than kicking her off the course? Presumably the intended reaction is for the audience to cringe, but it’s difficult to feel that way when Cath immediately gets morose about how fan work doesn’t hurt anybody and it’s so unfair that she got an F for plagiarism. Cath is supposedly a very talented writer, but she’s just too obsessed with Simon Snow to move on and even try to write original stories. She’s happy to help edit her classmate’s short story submission, but comes completely unstuck when told to use her own imagination.

It’s a good thing Cath is humanised so well later in the novel, because to begin with, she comes across as the kind of person who’d dig themselves a deep hole, jump in, and then whinge about how they can’t get out of it. Emotional developments are nicely woven into the plot rather than bashing the reader over the head with the soap-opera style melodrama than can be all too common in YA.

As we learn later in the book, Cath and Wren’s interest in Simon Snow stems from the pain they felt as children when their mother left them. Their father’s bipolar disorder (exacerbated by this turn of events), and their own feelings of abandonment led them both to seeking this safe haven within the pages of this popular new book series.

Now both of them are nearly adults, and while Wren is ready to move on and actually meet with their estranged mother, Cath cannot let go of her grudge and come to terms with her emotions, clinging to fandom as her rock. It’s actually really well done – perhaps because the tone of the book is rather light and airy, slowly building up and threading in story details without having to beat us over the head with big emotional revelations.

After every chapter, Fangirl cuts away to either a piece of Wren and Cath’s fan-fiction, or extracts from the Simon Snow books themselves. There’s also parts where Cath reads her fan-fiction aloud. This might be a more personal thing, but it’s difficult to distinguish between the voices of Cath as the fan-fiction writer and the Simon Snow extracts. Could that mean that Cath is so obsessed with Gemma T. Leslie’s writing style that she’s virtually copied it right down to a T? Perhaps. But perhaps not.

Speaking of Simon Snow, though – there’s this one moment in Fangirl that was particularly baffling:

“I don’t know,” Levi said. “It’s hard for me to get my head around. It’s like hearing that Harry Potter is gay. Or Encylopedia Brown.” (Loc. 1894-5)

So… Fangirl is set in the bizarre alternate universe where Harry Potter exists as a figure in the popular consciousness, but Simon Snow, a series that began in the early 2000s became infinitely more popular, despite being a huge rip-off? Simon Snow takes place at a magical school where the eponymous character is an orphan and supposedly the chosen one, has two best friends, and an intense rivalry with Baz, a Draco in Leather Pants who is also a vampire. The second Simon Snow book revolves around searching for a legendary serpent, one of the books involves Baz keeping secrets and Simon stalking him like it’s his day job, and there’s also a ‘Veiled Forest’ that’s totally not the Forbidden Forest. So, considering that Harry Potter does exist in this universe, wouldn’t J.K. Rowling have sued so hard by now? It may just be the one mention in the entire book, but it did lodge this seed in my head. (Though, speaking of Harry Potter adaptations that have become rather popular…)

Some of the more cynical might go: “Oh, this is just another ‘nerdy girl learns to be pretty once a boy comes into her life’ plot. Don’t we have enough of those?” Well… yeah, Fangirl kind of is and isn’t that typical. Levi is sweet and described as gorgeous, and Cath’s relationship with him is genuinely charming. He’s kind, non-judgemental, and apologetic when he’s done wrong. That’s not to say he doesn’t have his flaws, but he’s definitely a lovely guy and far from the gross bad boys one is supposed to fall over in YA.

The ending of the novel is rather rushed, sadly. Wren and Cath’s family life is hardly alluded to during the final 10% of the novel, instead focusing on the race to finish a fan-fiction before the final Simon Snow book is released, which is admittedly a fine method for the girls to realise that the story they grew up loving is now over and they have to move on with their adult lives. There’s also one other thing Cath has to accomplish – her short story project, which is simply swept under the rug, because we’ve got to end this somehow! Cath accomplishes writing this important project in about a day and still gets the prize for undergraduate writing. No, sorry. That’s not fair. She hardly attended her classes (out of her own volition, not when personal events were stopping her), stopped handing in assignments… Her creative writing professor took a shine to her early on and not only let Cath skip over being punished for plagiarism, she also gave her a ridiculously long extension for said short story, when it was supposed to be handed in at the end of the winter semester! (Also, were we supposed to start loathing Cath’s writing partner Nick at some point towards the end? The memo never reached my desk.) And what about the girls’ mother? We see hide nor hair from her after one of the more important scenes in the book. Oh, well. Back to college and having an awesome time with friends as the semester wraps up!

All in all, Fangirl is a fun, breezy read that’s actually got some decent character development and knows precisely when to weave it in. Cath is a more realistic portrait of the fan-fiction author than the lazy caricature a lesser writer would have gone for, thank God, and I really believed in her confusion and pain as to why she and her sister suddenly drifting apart. Levi is lovely, and Reagan is harsh, but funny. In fact, aside from one or two clangers in terms of metaphor and simile, I did find myself smiling several times while reading this.

My only real bugbear are the parts with Simon Snow fan-fiction and extracts from the novel. They take up too much space, and I wound up skimming over this half-baked Harry Potter-lite narrative after the first few times. Nice as a novelty, but not after every single chapter and several chapters where Cath simply reads it out to Levi or goes on long tirades about what she’s doing in the story. It slows down the story and the voices become utterly indistinguishable from another. The ending kind of speeds everything up rather unnecessarily, but it’s ultimately satisfactory.

3.5/5.
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Fangirl
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Paperback - 30 Jan 2014)
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