Author: Rainbow Rowell
Number of pages: 434
Star rating: 3.5/5
SPOILER ALERT!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
What can I say? The title sums up my entire existence. I went into reading Fangirl with the expectation that I would be reading my autobiography!
Cath and her twin sister, Wren, are leaving for college. Wren has just told Cath that she doesn’t want to be roommates, and Cath was devastated. Over the summer, Wren has already made loads of new friends; on the other hand, Cath spent her summer alone writing fanfiction for her favorite series, Simon Snow (dark retelling of Harry Potter). On her first day of college, Cath meets her roommate Reagan and Reagan’s friend, Levi. Being a true introvert, she is initially aloof towards them. As her character develops, she becomes more drawn to both of them and to the idea of having friends; the only thing holding her back is that Cath just doesn’t want to let Simon Snow go. Fangirl documents Cath’s journey through freshman year of college and her personal evolution.
Rainbow Rowell creates a perfect and authentic voice in all of the characters that makes the story so relatable as a teenage girl. She does an absolutely brilliant job of bringing out each person’s unique idiosyncrasies to invent a very realistic and oftentimes amusing contemporary. Cath’s dad is very quirky, coming up with random inventions and ideas to “improve” their house. For instance, he calls Cath at midnight to tell her about his installation of a fireman’s pole from the bathroom on the second floor to the kitchen. (#lol) The book tells a story that isn’t all perfect for Cath, but the ups and downs are what make it so poignant. It demonstrates LIFE, and I just loved how the author illustrated that in Fangirl.
On the other hand, I don’t know how the book became a representation of fandom, so I think that the title was misleading. While it may seem like I’m picking on semantics, I had much higher expectations for the focus of the book. Instead of emphasizing Cath’s fandom, it primarily focused on her college experience. Therefore, Fangirl is more like a coming of age story instead of the story of a fandom as the title implied. Sadly, Rowell portrays fandoms in a negative light by deliberately pointing out Cath’s flaws, especially in the beginning of the novel. I also didn’t like how the author paints Cath as a reclusive person, and therefore depicting all fangirls similarly. Cath won’t go into the school cafeteria because she’s introverted and shy, so she stores three months worth of granola bars in her dorm. However, as the book neared its end, Cath finally comes out of her shell to embrace who she is.
“‘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.”
Question of the Day: (respond in the voice of a character from the book!, and feel free to reply!) Is fandom and fanfiction (more specifically) justified, and how?