Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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I received this book for free from St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 10th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: St. Martin's Press
Buy on Amazon

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?

This book was just so… refreshing! Reading it brought me to my happy place and we just all need books like this once in a while!

I think a big reason I adored this book is that I saw a lot of myself in our protagonist, Cath. Cath is an introvert who uses a hobby as a way to escape – hers is writing fan fiction. That was very easy for me to connect with. I could understand her passion and the importance of it to her no matter how others saw it. The book also brings up a very real setting during the first year of college. College can be overwhelming especially for people like Cath who get nervous in new places and social interactions. A lot of the little things can’t be answered by Google, leaving us to figure it out – like how to find the luncheon hall in this case. I found this was very well portrayed. And while the romance is at the heart of this book, it unravels around Cath’s college life, not the other way around. We see her struggle in classes, worry about her family, find a study routine, befriend her roommate – who is awesome by the way, more on her in a bit – and this is what college life is! I appreciated this realism so much.

Walking these college grounds among Cath are a number of wonderful character who become the life force of this story. Firstly, her blunt, bitchy, and somewhat intense roommate Regan. Her blunt honesty reflects what we all wish we could say outright sometimes, I’m sure, though mostly it’s just hilarious. She’s an cold one, but this is exactly why she and Cath hit it off. They form the most unusual of friendships, but one that is enduring. Now on to Levi. It’s next to impossible to resist his lovable character. This guy’s charisma will have you giggling like a schoolgirl and melting in your seat. He’s just so incredibly adorable. He’s one of those people who just loves life. He loves to be social, he’s friendly, he’s always got a smile on his face, doing a good deed would make his day. Though he can also be serious when he needs to be. It’s kind of surprising how different he is from Cath, yet how perfect they are for each other. There is no better example of the cliché “opposites attract”.

Love is not all this novel is about, though. Family is a big topic in this novel as well. We see Cath struggle with leaving her workaholic father alone, and, for the first time, being without her twin by her side since Wren wanted to branch out by herself in college – which consists mostly of drinking and partying it seems. There is also the subject of the mother who left them all when the twins were 8. It’s heartfelt, and while some of it may be same-ol’ family drama, I think family issues are very important in books like these as it’s the simple fact of real life.

As you can see it’s a highly character oriented novel, characters that will leave a smile on your face every time you put the book down. The only parts I did not love were the fanfic snippets. We get excerpts of both Cath’s fanfic and the original series it’s regarding quite often and I found myself skipping most of it after the first few – and skipping them doesn’t affect the rest of the book. If you consider yourself a contemporary fan, Rainbow Rowell is an author you should definitely have on your shelves!


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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31 Responses to “Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell”

  1. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I adored Cath but the characters who surrounded her stole my heart. I loved how they supported her slightly nutty, introverted personality and eased her into trying new things and venturing beyond her comfort zone. Such a sweet book!

  2. DanaSquare

    I enjoyed this book so much! It was different from any New Adult book I have read. The characters were so amazing

  3. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    Everyone seems to be enjoying this book so much. I’m hitting myself on the head for not having requested it when it was available. Cat sounds like such a relatable character. I was that girl who’s scared to step out of my dorm room during my first few months in college. I would rather just read and blog in my room instead of going out.
    I’m also glad to hear that college life is portrayed realistically. Jenni also mentioned something about the fanfiction and I think I could skip them as well.
    Lovely review, Giselle! 🙂

  4. Savannah

    Every one I know has read this boom or is reading it. I just read Eleanor & Park and really loved the book. I think I may enjoy this one as well.

  5. Aman

    YES! Rainbow Rowell totally rocks! I’m dying to read Fangirl, the story is so different and yay for a geeky girl! lol I’m so glad that you enjoyed it! Now you have to read Eleanor and Park soon! Fabulous review 🙂

    • Michelle @ book briefs

      I just saw another great review of this book. And now your review, that seals it. I need to read this book! It looks like something that would be perfect right now. I loved that you described it as refreshing.

      Thanks for the great review Giselle!

      Michelle @ Book Briefs

  6. Candace

    I just loved this book! I had the biggest smile on my face the whole time I was reading it. I’m glad you enjoyed it too! Levi was awesome but I too connected with Cath.

  7. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

    This looks like something that I would not only read but probably love. I don’t think I’ve seen a negative review on this one yet. I’m trying really had to work on my tbr pile this month though so I might have to wait on this one. Awesome review. I love character driven stories!

  8. TheSirenicCodex

    I’ve been hearing a lot about Rainbow Rowell and her books recently, but I have yet to pick one of them up. This one sounds really good though and I like my contemporaries to be character oriented. Also, the fanfics part kind of remind me of Jennifer Echols’ Love Story.

  9. Jen

    YES I’m so glad you liked this one, Giselle! I’m really glad that this one was more of a character-oriented novel because Rowell can DO characters. Thank goodness you were able to relate to Cath easily, I think I would too. She seems both relatable and realistic. And I love family issues/drama. Rowell handles that well too. I can’t wait to read this one, thanks for the wonderful review, Giselle!

  10. Molli

    Definitely need to read this one. My copy is sitting on my dresser and I SO want to get to it soon. So cool it was such a great read for you. The fanfic parts (the actual excerpts) do sound like they could be jarring, but other than that YAY! It sounds awesome.

  11. Pili

    I’m not a fan of contemporaries, but I’ve read so many great reviews for this one, that I think I’ll have to get it!

    Thanks for a great review Giselle!

  12. Vivian

    An introvert?! That’s me! If only I wasn’t too lazy to write fan fiction, I think I could do it, lol. Man, everyone keeps raving about this book, but I’m still on the fence about it. Idk, maybe I’ll give it a read one day. Library, perhaps?! Lol.

  13. Samantha

    I only recently heard about Rainbow Rowell but I finished ATTACHMENTS in an evening and man, I am sold. Really looking forward to getting my hands on FANGIRL because honestly, from the blurb it sounds like it could have been written just for me, and your review is just adding fuel to that fire!