Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlSource: St. Martin’s Press/Netgalley – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Edition: eARC, 445 Pages
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 3/5
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

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?

Fangirl was one of my most anticipated reads for September but when I picked it up and started reading it…it just didn’t work out. This was like an on-again off-again relationship…it was always an option even though I didn’t necessarily want it to be…but at the same time I couldn’t make myself step away from in permanently (I don’t DNF books). In the end I was somewhere between happy and burnt out.

The overall story is one that I can get behind because I can honestly say…I get it. I can understand a character who is so in love with a fandom it covers her room (Yes that is a Slytherin banner on my wall…yes I do have a movie theater sized poster of Snape….what of it?). I get it, I use to write fanfiction and while I never hit the popularity that Cath did I understand the pressure of having people constantly telling you they can’t wait for the next chapter or that something you wrote doesn’t sit right with them. I even understand the social anxiety and the fear of waking up to find yourself marked with the ‘crazy’ pen. So what was the problem? Everyone else. I spent about 53% of this book hating most of the side characters, Wren included, and since this is a book about relationships it felt incredibly dragged out. Some of them were flat out rude and said increasingly insensitive things because it’s part of their dry humor, others turned into horrible people and, other than the reasons I have assumed, we are not actually given reasons as to why. It was a struggle to care about any of Cath’s relationships for two reasons: the characters were hardly worth caring about towards the beginning and because at times Cath wasn’t trying either. I’m glad to say after the half-way mark it started getting better and by the end I did like mostly everyone, I just wish it didn’t have to force myself to read to that point. I did think Levi was a sweetheart, though like all the others he was mildly annoying towards the beginning but his charming chivalry won me over.

I want everyone to know that this isn’t the fault of Rowell’s, her writing is actually really nice. I loved the flow and the feel, and I liked how the details stood out and made things really pop. I just had some serious personality meshing issues. I do appreciate what this book is though and I love that it deals with real college struggles, forming new relationships, and how you can love a fictional world so much it becomes a part of who you are.

I think this is one of those books that just didn’t work for me, but I can definitely see why so many others are going to love it.

3 star

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6 Responses to Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

  1. I’ve seen some mixed reviews on this. Good for you for sticking it out, though. Too bad all of the other characters had to go and ruin it. lol.

  2. Interesting review. I haven’t read this one yet and I’m not sure if I will. Characters I dislike always make a book hard work for me too so I really get his you felt.

  3. Interesting points. I’d love to see how it works out too. I’m a big fan of her first book, Attachments, but Eleanor and Park didn’t easily sit well with me. I’m still very curious about this book though and I’m so jealous of all the people who finally got their copies. The hardbound copy here costs around $19 and I’m so broke.

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