Fangirl Paperback – Unabridged, 30 Jan 2014
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Absolutely captivating (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
A funny and tender coming-of-age story that's also the story of a writer finding her voice...touching and utterly real. (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
Authentic dialogue, a remarkable empathy with adolescents and an honest portrayal of young, vulnerable love make this a riveting read. (Lancashire Evening Post)
This novel is funny, sad, clever and entertaining. (Armadillo Magazine)
A treat for teenage girls on the lookout for a novelistic take on first love... clever enough to keep you reading on. (The Daily Telegraph)
A love story about opening your heart by Rainbow Rowell, the New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park -Fangirl comes with special bonus material; the first chapter from Rainbow's magical novel Carry On.See all Product description
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Cath lives and breathes fandom. She and her twin sister Wren devoured a children's fantasy series called Simon Snow. They wrote wreathes of fanfiction, hung out in forums and went to late night book releases. Their obsession grew at the same time their mother had left them. In that sense it was not so much a craze but a way to cope. For Cath, it was not only the option to live in someone else's world, but to have their words become yours. In writing fanfiction, she ensured that the story that comforted her during the painful separation, never ends. This is a notion that really hit home. Cath takes comfort-zone to a whole new level.
As the sisters head off to college, Wren is keen to become independent and live apart. So Cath is faced with a terrifying new life, away from a once inseparable twin and a father who also never fully recovered from the family trauma. We soon realize that this is more than your usual freshmen jitters. Cath has trouble engaging with new environments and people, preferring to almost starve than ask where the food hall is. A big bulk of the novel focuses on how she navigates through this, with the help of some zesty characters and a cute farm boy. This is when the plot slows a little, but the author easily maintains a constant liveliness to the story.
Cath is a very sweet character and I imagine she speaks to many types of 'fangirls'. We all understand how special certain books are, their characters, worlds and most importantly their words. We root for Cath to grow in confidence and independence, not so she can cast away her past but so she can finally create her own stories.
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.
I did wonder whether Rowell wrote the Carry On story to flex her Harry Potter muscle, to give her own inner Fangirl an excuse to write some magic school story. I kind of liked that. I have never been much really into fan fiction, but I can see the appeal and it was kind of nice to see such a big phenomenon woven into a story about modern young people. I thought it was cute. And that’s what this whole book is. Cute. And sometimes that’s what you need to warm the heart.
Sure, I felt too old for the story, but that’s kind of cool, as it turns into a sort of guilty pleasure and who does not need a guilty pleasure every now and then? I am sure that, had I been eighteen years old, I would have absolutely loved this book. As it is, though I enjoyed it a lot, I won’t go out of my way to read another book by the author any time soon.
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