Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Personal purchase
In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, 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?
I have to state from the beginning that I've never been a fan of fanfiction. Internet is a wonderful place for finding people who love the same things you do as much as you do, but I've always felt fanfiction to be unnecessary and rather dull. Especially when fanfiction writers walk around declaring themselves authors, it annoys me. Not because they can't write or don't write well, but because it's easy to pick up a story and take it somewhere if you already have the characters and the settings laid out. So, in my review, I'm going to try and not get too much into the whole fanfiction thing.
FANGIRL is actually Cath's story. She and her sister Wren are big fans of a series of books, Simon Snow, which is a lot like Harry Potter, really. However, when they get to university, all Wren wants to do is suck it in and party it up, but Cath hold onto her fangirl-self a lot harder and becomes even more of an introvert. Instead of working on her writing assignments, she chooses to continue her fanfiction, which I felt is kind of a safe place for her. I also felt that she decided to study writing thinking, "I already love reading and am writing," which is a pretty misguided reason, but I'm not the one to judge.
I personally found Cath to be very annoying. As in VERY annoying. She wasn't even excited to be in university finally, didn't seem excited to suck all that information in, and that just didn't sit well with me. She should be thankful that she had a roommate like Reagan who had a friend like Levi who was pretty dreamy and fell in love with Cath somehow.
FANGIRL is among our book club selections at International Geek Girl Pen Pals. Of course I shared my opinions above with them as well. And when in return those who loved the book shared their comments, it dawned on me that there are all kinds of fangirls-- I'm not judging anybody, but I'm a pretty outgoing, curious person, and those who want to hide in their shell no matter what tend to annoy me.
In the meantime, many things didn't add or tie up to anything in the end. I'm all for writers leaving the ending to the reader, but this wasn't like that. For example, Cath and Wren's dad has some mental problems, so does their mother and she stays in a home. They appear and disappear throughout the story without any real impact on characters or events, which made me feel they were put in there as an excuse for Cath's introvertness and Wren's abuse of alcohol.
I had seen other books by Rowell around, but I'm not sure now if I want to read them. If they're along the same lines as FANGIRL, then I don't think I'll enjoy them. If you've read them, please do share your thoughts.