Saturday, September 21, 2013

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publishing Date: Steptember 10th 2013
Length: 433 pages
Keywords: YA, contemporary, romance, college, friendship, fan fiction
Source: Netgalley

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

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?

Summary by Goodreads 

Who is that fangirl everyone is talking about? She is inconspicuous, modest, dedicated and spends most of her days in front of her laptop writing new fan fiction. Cath and her twin sister Wren are about to start college, a more grown-up part of their lives. But Cath can't let go of the books that have kept her company for so many years.

Fandom and fan fiction are the overall theme of FANGIRL. Rainbow's third book teaches us that fan fiction can be a very important part of a teenager's life. Through their writing teens get a chance to stay with their beloved characters, expand their imagination, express their creativity and get in contact with other fans.

A fan can be found in every reader, too. How often have we read a book and couldn't stop talking and thinking about it? There are countless book worlds I would've loved to spent more time in. I don't read fan fiction nor have I ever written anything like it, but I could very well relate to Cath's obsession with her beloved Simon Snow books. I'm a fan of Cath and her passionate love for reading and writing Simon Snow fan fic. But I was no fan of Simon Snow himself (I haven't even read the last Harry Potter book). 
Every new chapter is accompanied by a Simon Snow quote or snippet of Cath's fan fiction to support the overall feel of Rainbow Rowell's FANGIRL and acquaint the reader with his magical world.
These short snippets were fitting the stories' character and I liked to find out what Cath saw in Simon Snow's stories, what she loved about them. 
Towards the ending of FANGIRL the fan fiction portions of Cath's story grow in relation to one big event she's looking forward to. The publication of the last book in the Simon Snow series. So, long pages of FANGIRL are filled with Cath's fan fiction about Simon and his (as Cath writes it) potential love interest Baz. Even though Cath's characters seem to grow in correlation with the actual FANGIRL story, her Simon Snow fan fic filled too many pages to keep my interest.  At some point I was tempted to skip the Simon Snow parts altogether and continue with the actual love story between Cath and Levi.

Cath starting college is the perfect condition and setting for her to meet new people and maybe even fall in love. It's her chance to evolve and be independent but what if she is extremely shy and just wants to shut out the rest of the world except her sister Wren and her father?
Cath is drawn back into herself and unaware of the college life going on around her. Luckily there are her new roomate Reagan and her friend, possible boyfriend Levi who help Cath to enjoy a small portion of life outside her bubble. Cath certainly doesn't become a social butterfly overnight, her transformation is a slow one, but she learns how to work on her issues and finally accepts new people into her life.

Cath writes fan fiction, but always has a realistic and analysing gift when it comes to assess the people around her. The boys in FANGIRL don't come along born Gods, they don't have the shiniest teeth or most perfect features as Cath observes, who sees and likes them for the persons they really are.
See for yourselves how Cath and Levi first met (their first encounters are probably unprecedented in YA awkwardness) and what their relationship is all about. Theirs is a very unconventional love story. It takes Cath a lot of time to open up to Levi and they become friends first before they can even give in to any romantic notions. To tease you, you can look forward to the Outsiders scene which is one of my favourites in YA! 

FANGIRL is not only about Cath's fan fiction and her love life. Rainbow Rowell found a bunch of other family and college-related aspects to weave together to a thick story mesh and well-written YA contemporary. It's about the many possibilities the new college world has to offer. About the difficulty to ever detach yourself from the ones you always had in your life as Cath's twin sister and their father mean the world to her. Is Wren doing okay on her own and what about her farther? Can he take to be all on his own after sending his two girls to college?
And ultimately FANGIRL is about finding out who you really are as an independent person and how to make certain things exclusively your own.

4,5/5 ****/* FANGIRL – An authentic and wholehearted bibliophile college experience. Rainbow Rowell is the new YA phenomenon!

FANGIRL is a brilliant book for readers looking for a YA contemporary read with the certain touch of magic. Sure I could've done without a good portion of the Simon Snow fan fiction we were given, but never would've wanted to miss out on FANGIRL. It's a very special read, with Cath and Levi's one-of-a-kind love story and Rainbow Rowell's great understanding for her characters.

"What about him?" she'd say, finding an attractive guy to point out while they were standing in the lunch line."Do you want to kiss him?"
"I don't want to kiss a stranger," Cath would answer. "I'm not interested in lips out of context." ― p. 82

FANGIRL you might also enjoy PSYCH MAJOR SYNDROME by Alicia Thompson and LOVE STORY by Jennifer Echols, both set in college, too. FAMOUS LAST WORDS by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski is also a read for teens interested in writing and journalism, but for a younger audience as it's set in high school.

* Can't get enough of Rainbow Rowell's books? Her second novel ELEANOR & PARK was released earlier in 2013.

* Click here to read an excerpt of FANGIRL.

* Want to meet Rainbow Rowell? Have a look at her event schedule here.

* For further information about Rainbow and her books visit

* Thanks to St. Martin's Press and Netgalley for the chance to review FANGIRL!


  1. Oh, I loved this book so much. <3 So sweet and honest. Sigh. And heartbreaking. I'm glad you loved it too :D

  2. I LOVED this book! I liked it more than Eleanor&Park. I couldn't put it down, I read it in one sitting!

  3. I haven't read this one yet but I love your review of it. I've never read or engaged in fan fiction either but I have to agree that there are books whose worlds I'd love to spend more time in and that's something I can relate to with Cath. I also like that the romance isn't conventional and takes time to develop.

  4. OoOO yes Fangirl most definitely has the touch of "magic" we often crave in books! This book was so so so sooo good and I loved it to pieces! Have you read Eleanore & Park? I haven't but definitely need to read now!

  5. I have this one from Netgalley and can't wait to read it soon. I've been hearing amazing things.In fact, I don't think I've read a single negative review for this book!

    I love your new layout, btw. :)

  6. Great review! I haven't read this one yet, but I do like the author. <3

  7. I am really curious about this book. I keep hearing so much about it!

  8. I'm seeing this book a lot lately, and all the reviews are great. I think I'm going to read it, as I like the idea of writing about fan fiction and what it means to the fans of a certain book or series.

  9. 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
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog

  10. Yes, my friends rave about this book. I'm not really into YA books, but I think I'll give it a try.

  11. This book was so... real. I bet my college experience will be the same next year, because I'm a Fangirl and a writer just like Cath!
    Let's hope I find a Levi, though... XD

    Here's the full review on my blog: