Friday, July 13, 2018

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Release Date - September 10, 2013
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  438 pages
My Rating - 4.5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
A coming-of-age tale of fanfiction, 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 fanfiction, 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 that 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 fanfiction 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? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? 
When Fangirl was released it was surrounded by hype. I constantly heard how amazing it was and how much everyone loved it. The buzz had the dual effect of making me want to read it and making me set it aside until I could read it without all the background noise that surrounded it. I am thrilled to say that this love letter to fanfiction lived up to all the praise.

Fanfiction is often looked at negatively by those outside of it. This novel presents those who love it as passionate, driven, creative, and dedicated. It showcases the hard work that goes into writing fanfiction and how valuable it can be in sharpening writing skills and finding your voice as a writer. It is also a way for fans to not only express their love of something but allows them to connect with other fans. The feeling of fandom is woven throughout everything and how it connects people who love the same thing. It's a powerful feeling and one that is, sadly, often dismissed as frivolous or silly. This shows that it is way more complex than that.

The dynamic of growing up as seen through the prism of the Cath and Wren relationship was fascinating. The are growing at different speeds and that takes it toll on their connection but the love they have for each other is never in question. Seeing the ways relationships change with the extra element of them being twins really heightened everything for me. All of the emotions were felt a little more strongly and that is everything I could hope for as a reader. Their relationship being a central focus felt natural to me because it is so ingrained with the fanfiction part of the story. I really liked how authentic their bond felt. I recognized parts of my own feelings towards my sisters within these pages and how the characters related to each other.

The romance is tentative and sweet. It matches who Cath is perfectly. She is socially awkward and withdrawn. She struggles to trust people and let them in. This is reflected in the romance that she embarks on. It is a gradual build but one that has a worth while payoff in the end. It feels more authentic because it is allowed time to breath and grow. The love interest is also pretty adorable and kind which helps immensely with becoming invested in the romance that is being explored.

The novel begins to have a conversation about the ways in which family trauma, such as divorce, can leave an impact. Both Cath and Wren are dealing with their mom leaving in very different ways but it impacted them just the same. This combined with how much Cath worries about her father make the family dynamic vital to the story. It, at times, feels even more important than the fanfiction element. It drives Cath in so many ways and moves the plot forward. I, in fact, wish it had been delved into just a little bit more. It felt unfulfilled in some ways but I immensely enjoyed the look at the messy, complex family dynamics that were offered.

My only minor quibble with this story is the ending. It felt a little rushed compared to the pacing of the rest of the novel. It didn't mesh as fully with the story I had previously read. It has a decent, even satisfying, ending but it didn't quite much the level of what came before it.

Fangirl is not just a love letter to fandom but a love letter to those who embrace it. It's a sweet coming of age story that will resonate with anyone who has ever been passionately obsessed with something. If you're a fan of young adult contemporary novels, and somehow managed to miss this one, I recommend checking it out.

1 comment:

  1. I tend to stay away from hyped books, which is why I haven't read this yet. :p I'm glad to know that it's a great read, though. As someone who embraces many fandoms, this will definitely speak to me. Great review!


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