My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Fangirl is a fun, contemporary read with a character that you will fall in love with if you are a part of any fandom. Cath immerses herself in the stories and world of Simon Snow, a magician and hero that she has spent her whole life in love with. She even began writing fan-fiction as a way to express that love of the stories and put her own take on the world.
As a writer and fangirl myself, I completely related to Cath and her college experience. If you’ve ever written fanfiction yourself, or been in a number of Tumblr or forum based roleplays as I have, you understand how difficult it is to tell people what you do. If they don’t understand, they think you’re strange or deviant for roleplaying. But what is wrong with getting in the headspace of one of your favourite characters, writing additional stories about them, and in my case interacting with other people (as characters and as themselves) who love your fandom as much as you do? Nothing. Nothing is wrong with that, so it’s lovely to see that sort of interest represented in a book.
Cath has a twin sister, Wren and while they are very alike in some ways, they are very different in others. Cath is much more of an introvert, preferring to stay in her room and write whereas her sister is more of an extrovert. Wren wanted to go out and meet people when she went to college, surprising Cath who had just assumed that they would spend their time together as they did in high school. It took a while for her to adjust to the fact that they weren’t even going to be roommates.
The relationship between the two sisters is very realistic, with its ups and downs. They don’t always get along or understand each other, but at the end of it all they are sisters and will always love each other. (Even if they make mistakes or say mean things.) Their very different college experiences allow for most readers to resonate with one sister or the other.
Perhaps you’re a Cath who is afraid to go to the cafeteria for the first time on her own because of all of the unsaid rules. Where is the caf, where do you get in line or do you just wander, is their seating etiquette? It’s tough when you’re an introvert and are afraid of doing the wrong thing, but don’t want to ask anyone else for help. She ends up hiding in her room with granola bars and peanut butter for weeks until Reagan comes to her aid.
Maybe you’re a Wren who embraces the freedom of college life, even if it’s to an extreme. You go out and socialize, make tons of new friends, and of course, go to all of the parties. What is college without drinking? (I will inform you that it is just as fun, I promise, as long as you have friends who respect your decision not to drink. And if they don’t respect you, then they’re not really your friends. PSA over.)
The other characters in the book are likable in their own ways. Reagan, Cath’s roommate is honest, blunt and confident. She’s not a freshman, so when she realizes that Cath is struggling she takes her under her wing and watches out for her.
There are two guys throughout the book that Cath shows interest in, but I personally only rooted for one of them. Almost immediately upon meeting on of the two male characters, I thought that he and Cath would end up together. I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t give any details – but I promise their relationship is adorable and you want to read about it. The guy may make mistakes, to be honest, they both do, but they care about one another and he is very good to her.
I loved that between chapters we were either given an excerpt from the original Simon Snow books or a glimpse at Cath’s fanfiction writing. It made the series itself feel real in a way that made the book even better.
I fell in love with Fangirl and Rainbow Rowell’s writing, flying through this book in about a day. I immediately wanted to see what other books she wrote and will likely read another next. I would highly recommend this series to young adult/teen readers (or high school students) who worry about fitting in or finding themselves in college because I believe it has a really great message of accepting yourself and not being embarrassed to love the things you love. You’re not alone.
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