Tuesday, 29 October 2013
Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Format: eBook / Paperback January 2014
Released: September 10th, 2013
Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair anymore - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally 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. Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's learning that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible...
I read Fangirl a few weeks ago and since then have been leaving writing this review until I could gather all my thoughts. It was one of my most anticipated books of 2013, and so of course I was worried it wouldn't live up to the hype I'd created in my head. At first, it didn't, and it took me a while to get into. I wasn't connecting with the characters and was just waiting for it click with me... and then it did. And then I couldn't put it down for anything.
Fangirl is a long book, longer than I usually like to read and one that seemed to last forever. That's not a bad thing, though, because by the end I was wishing there was more! I fell in love with all the characters - Cath, Wren, and Levi especially - and I empathised with Cath and saw myself in her. I'm not a fan of fanfiction, but I'm a massive fangirl in other ways, especially with anything Whedon related. I completely understood her obsession and I loved her for it. What a great concept for a book!
One of my favourite parts of Fangirl was Cath's own fanfiction centred around Simon and Baz from her favourite book series, Simon Snow. I could easily read an actual book about Simon and Baz, and I wonder if Rainbow Rowell has ever considered it? I don't remember reading a book-within-a-book before, but I liked it. Though sadly it's left me with a desire to read an actual Simon Snow book! Aside from Cath's fanfiction, I also loved her relationship with lovely, thoughtful Levi. But I'll let you guys discover that little gem for yourselves.
Cath and Wren are such brilliant characters, both navigating the world of adulthood and trying to find their place at university. Cath sticks to her guns and stays with what she knows, while Wren rebels and tries many a new thing. There are arguments and periods where they don't talk, but they always come back to each other. There's also several sub-plots involving their parents that add a lot to their story, and reinforce the message of family values.
I could write a lot more about Fangirl, but it would either be full of spoilers or me just gibbering on about how good it is and how everyone must read it RIGHT NOW. So instead of doing that, I'll just say that is a book that simply has to be read and experienced, then read again. It will leave a mark, one that you'll probably always remember and refer to, and it'll stay in your head for weeks and weeks. These characters become like family, and reaching the last page is like a bittersweet goodbye to someone you hope you'll see again. Brilliant.