Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: 12 May 2015
Format: Hardback, Owned, Collector’s Edition
Rating: 4/5 stars
Memorable Quote: “Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision.”
Synopsis (from Goodreads): 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 has been on my tbr since college graduation in December of 2016. One of my sorority sisters gifted it to me, and I honestly meant to read it a lot sooner than I actually did. With quarantine still happening and recently being furloughed from my job, I suddenly have a great deal of time on my hands, so why not read those books I meant to read forever ago?
Here’s the thing. I never got into fan fiction as a teen or adult. Despite my love of reading and significant attachment to certain series, I never felt compelled to venture into fan fiction – reading or writing. I have some friends who were/are into it, and I think it’s pretty cool that as readers we can keep a world we love going – as long as we aren’t selling it for profit. Maybe I missed out on fan fiction because I never read (or watched) Harry Potter? From what I have observed, that seems to be where a lot of fan fiction is, but anyway…
Cath is so heavily immersed in the world of Simon Snow fan fiction that the real world is almost too much for her. She prefers the world of Simon Snow because she has control of it in her fan fiction, Carry on, Simon. While the fan fiction side of the story might have not been my thing, I understood Cath’s desire for escape and control. Which is why I think I had such a love/hate relationship with her as a character – because I saw so much of myself in her. In many ways, I felt called out on some of the less than ideals qualities about myself…
Cath is nervous, set in her ways, resistant to change, and relies heavily on her twin sister Wren.
Rowell does a fantastic job of showing how little things – where to sit at lunch, finding your classes, getting to know campus, etc. can cause tremendous amounts of anxiety for some people, because it’s so easy to overthink the simplest things.
I felt that so much. Everyone makes college seem easy, but I remember all the stress and anxiety that came with things that seemed small to some people.
Topics such as family, mental illness, intimacy, and friendship are also explored in a thoughtful and honest way without getting cheesy or over-the-top. Cath’s freshmen year at college felt pretty believable.
There are two reasons this wasn’t a five star book for me.
- Simon Snow is obviously meant to be Harry Potter. I don’t need to read the books to catch that. Maybe that’s the point, though? That Harry Potter (or some form of it) exists in other worlds, and it made the book even more relatable in the sense of being so familiar. But also… it felt a little unoriginal?
- Levi. I didn’t hate him. His character just stressed me out and I’m not sure why. I guess he was just too much for me, and his interest in Cath was odd to me. But what do I know? On the other hand, it was cool to see Cath become interested in someone who was so different from her. I also do appreciate Levi’s patience with Cath. It was refreshing to see two characters taking time to get to know each other, and to take intimacy a bit more slowly.
Clearly, I’m pretty conflicted about my issues with this book. Ha.
Anyway, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a contemporary book that isn’t all fluff or where issues get resolved within a chapter. I think anyone who is facing big changes/or has a fear of change and ambiguity will get a lot from Fangirl. I felt a lot less alone after reading this book in regards to my own anxiety.
Have you read Fangirl? Let me know what you think!