Sep 23, 2013

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publishing Date: September 10, 2013
Pages/Format: 434, ARC

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? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Initial Reaction of Book in One Word: asdfghjkl

Can Rainbow Rowell do no wrong? I think the answer to that question is yes.

I read Eleanor & Park earlier this year and absolutely loved it. So when I heard Rowell had another YA coming out, I had to have it. And with so many rave reviews, I knew it had to be good. Someone even told me people were saying it was better than Eleanor & Park. I was skeptical at that--could Rowell top that? Then I read the book and MY GOSH, I think she could. And did.

I'm going to talk about all things Fangirl soon, but let me talk about it with Eleanor & Park for a second. They're both spectacular in the way of Rowell's wonderful writing and stellar storytelling and craftful characters. But where they're different (and why I may like Fangirl more, but still LOVE E&P) is their mood, so to speak. E&P is a bit more serious, not quite so light and fluffy (but not dark and depressing, either). Fangirl, on the other hand, is more light and fluffy, but still has some seriousness. It's like they have the same things, but each focuses more on a different one. And it shows how eclectic Rowell is in her writing, but how she can still be herself. (And I have got to read Attachments, her adult book, which is bound to be great like her YA books.)

Now, for Fangirl. I'll start off with what I didn't like...which is basically nothing. For the longest time, I kept thinking to myself, "there is nothing wrong with this book." Of course, nothing is perfect, and I did end up finding a few things I didn't love--some open-endness (sorta) and the ending, because it wasn't satisfying enough. (Oh my gosh, are flips-the-pages-over-and-over-is-that-really-the-end endings Rowell's trademark? She's going to destroy me. (In a good way.)) And really, that's mainly because I wanted MORE. When I first looked at my copy of Fangirl, I noticed two things: kind of thick and small font. (Plus the cover, of course, and it was cool how well it matched the book, i.e., I'm pretty sure the characters wear what they're wearing on the cover.) And I thought, "WHY?" Because that's kind of intimidating and I've been in a book slump and all that, you know. But then I read it and that didn't matter, because there weren't enough words. I needed MORE. Also, at one point, a thought randomly occurred to me: I kind of want to DNF (did not finish) this book. Why would I think such a thing about this book? It's complicatedly simple: I didn't want it to end, and by not finishing it, the book would never be over.

As for the Simon Snow chapters/section (from the book and Cath's fanfiction), well...Rainbow Rowell, if you're reading this, I'm sorry to have skipped such a big part of your lovely book. I read them for a while, but eventually I just got so invested in Cath's story that I couldn't take the time to read Simon Snow parts; I just skipped ahead to see what was happening with Cath's story. (And I may have peeked ahead on more than one occasion, but I just had to see what my feels would be feeling and when. Had to. Though I wish I wouldn't have cheated and seen some of those feels a little early.)

You know what's great about Fangirl? (Everything.) The characters. Rowell is really good at writing characters that just feel real. It's told from the POV of Cath, a college freshman with a twin sister named Wren. Oh, and she's a hardcore Simon Snow fan and writes fanfiction about him. I think part of why I loved this book so much was because I saw so many similarities between myself and Cath and I was able to connect with her. Her and her sister Wren, while they may look alike, are opposites in many ways. Wren's the partier, while Cath stays in her dorm room and writes. I didn't care for their mother, but I liked their dad. I also liked Cath's roommate Reagan--another opposite from Cath, but she's really cool. And then, there's Levi. Levi, Levi, Levi. I love you. (Here and here and here.) He's such an awesome guy who's wonderful yet not perfect (he does make mistakes). He kind of reminded me of Etienne St. Clair and Augustus Waters, but he was still his own character. I could probably talk forever about him, but I'll control myself. And the romance in the Rowell can make practically nothing make you swoon (like the hand holding in E&P). It's just wonderful. (Also, quick note: Some people categorize this as New Adult because of the MC's age. In case you were wondering, if it's NA, it's not NA in the sex sense.)

Oh gosh, what else can I say? How about...

Rainbow Rowell could write a book about two garbage cans falling in love and I would read it.

At the end of a rainbow, is there a never-ending pot full of Rainbow Rowell books for me to read?

I made a face similar to this a lot, but times a hundred. And maybe with some feet kicking.

In the end (I wish there wasn't an end. In fact, Rowell should write sequels to Fangirl), I can't give enough praise for this book. I felt great reading it. I loved it. I kind of want to (kindly) say you'd be a fool not to read it. It may be my favorite book of the year. I want to reread it already. I want you to read it. It's a feel-good book, and it's a gives-you-feels book. I am simply fangirling over Fangirl.

Rainbow Rowell has done it again, and don't be surprised when she does it again. And again. And again.

Did I like it? YES.
Did I love it? OHMYGOSH YES.
Would I reread it? Absolutely!
Would I purchase it? I want it NOW.
Who would I recommend it to? EVERYONE. Even your dog.


  1. I think I agree with absolutely everything you said! This book was so wonderful. :) And no worries about skipping the Simon parts; I wanted to SO badly, since I guess I didn't really care? I cared about Cath and Levi and didn't want anything standing between us! I LOVE your comment about DNF-ing it just so it didn't end! :) Perfect idea. Great great review!!

    Rachel @ Paper Cuts

  2. Aw, so glad you loved this book too! I loved it. <3 Heh, I actually loved the Simon Snow parts ;p
    Thank you for commenting on my WoW. <3
    Love, Carina @ Carina's Books

  3. So glad you enjoyed this book!! I haven't read Eleanor and Park yet but I've heard so many great things about it that I just HAVE TO.
    This book's subject sounds intriguing, and wow, you made it sound so good.. *_*
    Another book added to the list of books I have to buy now. ><

    Your blog is so great!!! I'm a new follower via Bloglovin :)

    My TTT

  4. I loved this book like crazy! I'm a Rainbow Rowell fan after reading Eleanor and Park so getting this one was an absolute must! I like the connection with fandoms and how even though i don't consider myself to be part of one or read fanficion the book highlights just how much of a culture it's sort of become. People live and breathe fandoms so i liked how a book was written about them from a positive prespective than a negative one too. Cath was also just the perfect character and her relationship with her family was so realistic and done so beautifully i loved it. I like how she took her time with her romantic interest too, nothing was rushed and it really seemed like how a first time relationship would work to a newbie. Great review :) xx

  5. I preferred E&P I think in part because I didn't like the Snow fiction/fanfiction very much. Can't wait for more Rowell next year!

  6. In the first few chapters, I was very skeptical. I thought Cath would end up with a too-perfect boyfriend who swept her off her feet and I was NOT dealing with that plot again. But the novel actually goes in a more unexpected direction and it ends up being sweet and far more realistic. It's light (with some serious parts), fun to read, and super relatable for writers, readers, and fangirls in general.


I've been having s-to-the-pam issues, and I wasn't thrilled with Disqus, so sorry about the CAPTCHA!