Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | An ECD Review

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

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?

*deep breath* It's here (yes two months bad).  A hopefully comprehensive look at my thoughts on Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (since I know you are all just dying to hear what I thought).  This is VERY lengthy and I'm so sorry but I couldn't get it down any shorter.

The reason I chose this as my first book by this author is because I have been...involved with multiple fandoms in my life.  I also was very, very anxious about starting college back in the day - meeting people, having a roommate, the possibility of having no friends, etc.  I figured, at the very least, I'd be able to related with the MC, Cath, even if the story was less than stellar.  I needn't have worried, because I loved the book.

It's pretty much a coming-of-age novel that chronicles Cath's journey through her freshman year of college.  New classes, a roommate, the daunting cafeteria, classmates who try to screw you over, professors who help you grow, people making bad decisions, struggling to make your own decisions, etc.  An all encompassing college freshman experience with a hearty dose of fandom thrown in for good measure.

I will mention that, in between some chapters, are sections and excerpts from the Simon Snow books AND Simon Snow fanfiction.  I LOVED this part.  I think it gave a bit of legitimacy to Cath's interests (rather than this...illusive realm of life that Cath inhabits) for readers who are not necessarily familiar with it, some are even just unwilling to give it a chance. However, if, as you're reading it, you are just so heavily invested in Cath's friendship and potential relationship with Levi, you may find these pieces a bit distracting and unnecessary.

I don't think there was a character I disliked.  Take Nick, the jerk; I LOVED that at first I really thought he was going to be Cath's romantic interest. I loved that he was a part of the story.  Not everyone you meet is trying to build you up or help you out.  Some people DO have ulterior motives and Cath sort of standing up to him at the end really showed some great growth for her.  She wouldn't have had the backbone in the beginning of the story to do that.

And I loved reading about Cath's developing friendship with her roommate. It came full circle for me when Reagan refused to let Nick into the room when Cath wasn't there:

The door to her room opened abruptly, and Reagan looked out.  "Is this yours?" she asked Cath, nodding at Nick. "No," Cath said. "I didn't think so. I told him he had to wait outside." 

It was just an amazingly perfect description of the evolution of their rommateship - Reagan is now protective of Cath.  A few lines later in the same scene:

Reagan was looking at Nick like she was already tying him to the railroad tracks.

Yay for personal growth!

Last thing: I will just mention that (this may be a spoiler so skip to the bottom!) Cath shares her fanfic writing with Levi.  Perhaps it's just me but the fact that 1) Levi is genuinely interested in exploring and hearing about this part of Cath and 2) Cath even shared it really, for me, was a testament to the strength of their friendship/potential relationship.  I think that Cath really should have considered that aspect of their friendship when she was insecure/self-conscious about her feelings for Levi and in turn his feelings for her.

Eeep - I just loved everything about it.  I won't gush any longer...if you're into YA (and, really, even if you're not) please grab it from your local library and give it a try.  And if you end up not liking it I'm interested in hearing why - I sort of feel like I am incredibly biased with the whole fandom thing. I just wanna talk to everyone about this.


  1. This is a wonderful review. I'm really glad to see how much you loved the book, as I did too. I don't read any fan fic, but I didn't feel like those parts of the book took away any focus for me. I enjoyed them and like you, felt like it made Cath more credible. I just adored this book and agree that anyone and everyone should read it, regardless that it's YA.

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by! Have you read Rowell's other novels? I've read Attachments but I definitely didn't like it as much as this one. Now I'm not sure if I should read Eleanor & Park.