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?
When Fangirl went on sale a while back I had heard wonderful things about Rainbow Rowell so I checked out some ratings and decided it was well worth a shot. I saw that the reviews had been a little mixed which piqued my interest, I probably shouldn’t admit it but when there is discord among readers it often convinces me even more to buy/read a book. I really had no idea what this book was going to be about other than a girl who is obsessed with a fictional character named Simon Snow, so I pretty much went in blind.
I’m really glad I read Fangirl. I had been in a bit of a rut, not reading much and when I did read I just wasn’t enjoying it the way I always have. But Cath, Levi, Reagan, and the gang changed my tune. I loved Fangirl. A lot. I thought it was sweet and quirky and really reflected that sometimes holding onto something so tight can blind you from all the good things in store.
The book starts with Cath heading off to the start college with her identical twin sister Wren. Cath and Wren may be identical on the outside but their personalities are very different. When Wren tells Cath she doesn’t want to room together it pretty much shatters Cath’s ideal college life. That is how Cath ends up with upperclassmen, Reagan. At first Cath doesn’t know what to do with Reagan. She’s bold, she’s intimidating, and she’s extremely blunt. Along with Reagan comes Levi, a guy Cath suspects is Reagan’s boyfriend since he spends so much time waiting outside their door for Reagan or with Reagan herself.
On top of the pressure of learning to blend in to collegiate life Cath is faced with the daunting task of finishing Carry On, Simon, a fanfic of her favorite books about the one and only Simon Snow. So this is where readers of Fangirl seemed to be really divided. Some loved the idea of a fellow fanfic writer telling her story and some thought it was a totally mockery. In my opinion, I think Rowell was trying to tell the story of a girl who let her life be so consumed by fantasy that it blinded her to real life. I don’t think the book was meant to be mocking and granted there were a lot of parallels between Simon Snow and the world’s favorite boy Wizard but I think that was a plot tool to help readers relate. That’s just my opinion and I’m sure some will completely disagree but that’s their prerogative. That being said, the story does alternate between Cath’s life, to her fanfic and the actual Simon Snow stories. I know some readers found this annoying but I thought it was a clever parallel between Cath and Simon Snow’s lives. I think it was purposefully written this way so that the readers could see Cath and Simon (and even Baz) grow into the characters they were meant to be.
I have to say of all the things I loved about this book (which I will definitely get to); I most loved the normalcy of the story. There were no big, deep, dark secrets waiting in the background. There was drama, including family and boy issues, but there wasn’t some huge issue that needed to be brought to light. It was a bit refreshing in my eyes.
I also liked the slow-burn romance. More often than not, in YA there are a lot of really quick romances. I don’t have a major problem with insta-love but it’s nice to see the other side of the coin now and then. Not every teen jumps into love head-first. I loved the chemistry and the lack of pressure put on Cath. Cath’s romantic journey felt real to me, however innocent it might have been, and I enjoyed falling in love with her.
As for the characters, I loved them. Cath was a bit naïve at times but I don’t think it was unrealistic. Not every 18 year old goes into college with the same experiences. I know people like Cath, so I know that her type of person does exist. As for Levi, Levi was a doll. I always say this when I come across nice boys in books but goodness do I love the nice ones. Levi was just an average guy but just reading about him put a smile on my face. Levi always smiles so even through a book it’s contagious. And as for Reagan, I loved her, as well. She was one fierce girl and I loved that she took Cath under her wing and helped her navigate the college life a little better. As for Cath’s family, as dysfunctional as they seemed to be, I’m glad they got their time in the spotlight. I think it’s important for YA authors to build a strong familial background for MC’s (unless the MC doesn’t have a family); it makes the character more believable. I also will admit that I even loved Simon and Baz. It’s funny because they weren’t even the main characters in this story but I found myself wanting to know how their story ended, as well. It was like getting the cliff-note version of their story with some of the best parts.
Anyways, I loved Fangirl. I thought it was a really good book about growing up and letting go of childhood fantasies. I know it won’t appeal to all readers due to the nature with which it is told and the subject of which it is about. But hey, that’s books. I would personally highly recommend this book to YA contemporary lovers. It was a well-written and engrossing read for me. Plus, everyone needs a little Levi in their life.