Monday, April 27, 2015

Review: FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell (@rainbowrowell)
Released: September 10th, 2013
Series: N/A
Genre: YA contemporary
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 433
Format: ARC | Kindle book
Source:  Amazon Vine | Purchased
Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf
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?

A coming of age story, Fangirl is exceptionally humorous and touching. Rowell expertly shows the enthusiasm involved with fandoms, the awkwardness that arises when close friends (or sisters, in this case) begin drifting apart, and the immense joy a few new good friends can bring to your life. Cath is an endearing protagonist - very introverted, smart, talented, and has a good heart. Regarding the writing style, Rowell crafted an excellent contemporary 3rd person POV novel that does not lose any connection with the protagonist. The dialogue is sharp, realistic, and memorable. The story, while slowly paced, is engaging from the first page to the last. I was not sure what to expect from this story, but I was not expecting this. Fangirl made a fan out of me, and I'd recommend this story to anyone who is even the slightest bit curious about it.

Highlights: Easy to relate to, especially you are naturally a bookish / writerly introvert like Cath. The characters are honest, and utterly imperfectly perfect (I especially adore Levi and Reagan, who are both amazing). The characters differentiate themselves from one another with ease. The story is set in college, which is always refreshing. This book is promoted heavily as YA, but it's also the perfect example of what the New Adult genre should strive to become. Also, the dialogue! Dialogue is what makes this story shine. Also, emergency dance parties. 

Lowlights: The excerpts from Simon Snow stories / fandom, while interesting, became a bit much to deal with - I was more interested in Cath's story. I feel like this book could be perfect some extra bits were cut down (but, I'm probably in the minority on this point, since most people loved this book as is).

Rating: The Royal Library, Middle Shelf: Highly Enjoyed, 4 out of 5. I highly enjoyed this story, despite a few small issues, and definitely want a copy for my shelves (now to decide which print version I want the most - so many to choose from). I'd recommend checking this story out, if you haven't already!


  1. Awesome review Lea :D I'm so glad that you mostly loved this book. <3 Back when I read it, I gave it five stars :D Though I do think I maybe should have given it four. Hmm. But mostly I really liked it too :) But aw. I'm sorry you didn't like the Simon Snow parts :( especially since Simon Snow is Rainbow's next book, lol. <3 Hope you might like it better then :) Fingers crossed. Thank you for sharing. <3

    1. I think I'll like Carry On more since it won't be switching back and forth - I wanted to read Cath's story, and the SS parts began to feel like a distraction. As it's own novel, however, I think it will be great!

  2. Fantastic review, Lea! I have had my eye on this book ever since I read E&P. I was initially hesitant because of the whole fan fiction piece of it (not really my thing) but I think I will give this one a try anyway. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

    1. It's really good! A nice story about growing up, friends, and family! :)

  3. "This book is promoted heavily as YA, but it's also the perfect example of what the New Adult genre should strive to become."

    YES. I absolutely agree. I like that FANGIRL has that overreaching story where teens and older peeps can enjoy it. I really liked Reagan and Levi! I almost wish Rainbow would write a story about Reagan. Or maybe a novella. I'd so read that! And aww. I personally loved the Simon snow excerpts (both the "author's" and cath's). This book actually opened the gates for me and now I'm totally into fan fiction haha. Anyhoo, your review is great and I'm happy that you enjoyed the story! (Remember, ALL THE BOOKS. GET THEM ALL.)

    1. I loved that this book crossed genres a bit from YA to NA - we need more books like it!

      A Reagan novella / story would rock. She was my favorite side character!

      BUT I CAN'T AFFORD THEM ALL, SANDY! *cries* I'll probably flip a coin to decide.

    2. I'm slowly wading into the NA pool but a lot of them seem like YA but oversexed. Not that I mind the steam but I need the story to be prominent, not the steam lol.

      YAS. I would love to see things from her perspective. :)

      BUT BUT BUT..... sigh. Lol. I know the UK edition is currently unavailable so I'd probably go with the amazon copy.

    3. I only dive into NA every now and then, and it definitely reads EXACTLY like that (and they tend to be so formulaic, it's frustrating). Extra romance is fine, but I agree - I need some substance to the story too. I'd love to see more upper YA / NA like FANGIRL, because it did it right.

      I'm struggling between the B&N collector's edition and the Amazon collector's edition...I want both (SO PRETTY), but my bank account is like NO. Stupid bank account...

    4. Oh gurl. I'd go for the amazon copy :D

      Yes true!! A lot NA follows the same story line over and over... The only NA I've really lurved has been EASY by Tammara Webber.

  4. YES, I completely agree that this is the type of NA I want to be reading. I want to read about real struggles, real relationships, and real people. I don't want pornographic romance novels with younger characters. So far, this is the only NA book I've encountered that fulfills those requirements! (Which is ironic, since as you pointed out, it's officially YA.)

    I guess you won't be reading Carry On, then. :)

    1. YES! NA genre can get carried away with the romance, which made the realistic nature of FANGIRL all the more appealing.

      I think I will check out Carry On! I think I'd like it more as it's own story, and not mixed in with Cath's.

  5. Humorous and touching sounds like a combo I would enjoy

  6. I DEFINITELY agree. I thought the Simon/Baz story lines were a bit distracting and I really didn't care for pages from the novel or her fanfiction. I'm a bit surprised that Rainbow is writing a Baz/Simon story though.

    Glad you liked it!

  7. I keep meaning to read this - it sounds really good!