Sunday, August 18, 2013

REVIEW: "Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
For Ages 15+ (language, drinking, drug use, talk of sex)
Young Adult -- Contemporary
St. Martin's Press -- Expected: September 10, 2013
Ebook, 448 pages
Received from Netgalley

College Setting, Geek Heroine, Love Triangle

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?

There was a boy in her room.

Rainbow Rowell has developed quite a reputation since the publication of Attachments and Eleanor & Park.  I have been meaning to try her out for awhile so I was excited to see Fangirl on Netgalley especially when I saw that it featured a fan fiction writer.  I had a feeling it would be good, but I was blown away with how fabulous it was.  Fangirl is a fascinating look at one girl's first year in college that is full of well-developed characters, an emotional plot, and a super sweet romance.

The main character is Cath, a freshman in college who is learning to adjust to a life independent of her family.  Her mother abandoned her twin sister, Wren, and their father years earlier which caused quite a rift.  Her father's mental health became a real concern after this and Cath spent much of her time trying to keep her family together.  Besides this, the most important thing that readers learn about Cath is that she is a prolific, and Internet famous, fan fiction writer.   And the fandom she focuses on is that of the Simon Snow fantasy series which became a haven for her during the troubled times of her childhood.
Reagan wouldn't believe--or understand--that Cath wasn't just a Simon fan.  She was one of the fans.  A first-name-only fan with fans of her own.  If she told Reagan that her Simon Snow fics regularly got twenty thousand hits...Reagan would just laugh at her.
This book showcases Cath's journey through her first year which includes a variety of subplots and side characters.  One of my favorite side stories involves Cath and the newly strained relationship with her sister who made the decision not to room with her which started the entire book.  Wren is loud, outgoing, and obsessed partying while Cath is quieter, more anxious in crowds, and definitely more focused on the academic side of college.  I loved the different experiences that they had and how they balanced each other out.

Like most college-set stories, there was a pretty decent-sized cast of characters filling the landscape.  One of my personal favorites was the upperclassman roommate, Reagan, who made it her mission to make Cath socialize and experience what college has to offer.  I loved her snarky, almost abrasive comments and how they hide the more genuine side of her personality.  And then there is Nick and Levi, the two guys that catch Cath's attention though in very different ways.  I loved how different they were and the way that they connected to Cath and her journey.  I definitely had my favorite, but don't want to run it for future readers.

The only other thing I want to mention about Fangirl is the creativity that Rainbow Rowell showed with the fan fiction aspect.  The Simon Snow series that is Cath's obsession is definitely inspired by the phenomena that are Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Twilight.  What I really loved was that the author peppered the story with book excerpts, fan fiction chapters, and news articles all dealing with Simon Snow.  I found myself getting invested in Simon and Baz's story line which helped me understand Cath's character that much more.  I definitely would read that series in real life!
Simon Snow is a series of seven fantasy books written by English philologist Gemma T. Leslie.  The books tell the story of Simon Snow, an 11-year-old orphan from Lancashire who is recruited to attend the Watford School of Magicks to become a magician...Since the publication of Simon Snow and the Mage's Heir in 2001, the books have been translated into 53 languages and, as of August 2011, have sold more than 380 million copies.
I could go on and on about this book and how much I connected with it, but I want potential readers to discover it's joys for themselves.  Cath's journey is so easy to relate to, especially with college freshmen, and the fan fiction element just makes it that much more fun.  I definitely recommend this YA contemporary will definitely be reading the rest of Rainbow Rowell's books soon.

I received an e-ARC from St. Martins Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


"I like your glasses," he said.  "I like your Simon Snow T-shirts.  I like that you don't smile at everyone, because then, when you smile at me...Cather."  He kissed her mouth.  "Look at me."  She did.  "I choose you over everyone."


  1. I am excited about this. Nice review. i dodnt know the author gave glimpses into the fanfic chapters. That sounds even more awesome!

    1. The fanfic parts were so much fun! I want to read the Simon Snow books now. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  2. !!!! I'm so glad you loved Fangirl, too. I just reviewed it today. Rainbow Rowell is sort of the author of the year for me. I've loved all of her books. She's just amazing.

    Reagan is the best, too. I completely forgot to mention her in my review, but I loved her. I just loved everything about this book.

    1. I was very very impressed. I was planning on reading Eleanor & Park and Attachments sometime, but they are now high priority. Reagan just made me smile because I have had friends like that who know how to break me out of my shell while still maintaining their tough image (for the most part). Thanks for the comment and I'll check out your review soon.


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