Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published by: St. Martin's Press on September 10, 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 433
Source: Purchased
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★★

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?

I liked Fangirl but I’m disappointed because I wanted to love it, but I don’t think I did. I had highs and lows with Fangirl. Sometimes I really liked it and felt like it was so easy for me to relate to Cath and her experiences. But then there were times where I was bored or disappointed or just not all that invested.

I really liked how Fangirl was so uncertain and awkward—that pretty much rocked. I loved some of the small details like how Cath didn’t eat at the dining hall for the longest time because she felt awkward about figuring out the system. Like where do you get your food? Which line do you get in? What food to you get? Where do you sit? I totally remember those college days! And I also enjoyed a the writing aspect. I may not have liked Simon Snow that much (see below), but I liked Cath as a writer. In some ways she felt like a blogger because she was constantly writing things, had loyal readers, etc.

But a lot of tiny things irked me. For example: I was annoyed that Levi was a nice guy and then did something stupid before he and Cath even started dating. Why give me a bad feeling about a relationship before it even starts? Then I was annoyed at Cath for forgiving him when I was still mad at him and not ready to let it go. Then there was a similar thing with Wren.. I was pissed at Wren and I was a bit annoyed that Cath forgave her so easily when I was still holding a grudge.

And the fanfiction itself—Simon Snow—I didn’t click with it. I think I was mad that it seemed like a lame Harry Potter ripoff and yet was apparently even more popular than Harry Potter. The problem was that Simon Snow wasn’t just a replacement Harry Potter, where Simon Snow is super famous and Harry Potter doesn’t exist at all. Instead, they both exist but Simon Snow completely trumps Harry Potter. And given that Simon Snow was such a blatant Harry Potter ripoff (magical world, school of magic, a Harry/Draco relationship, some kind of chosen kid, etc.), I completely cannot buy that. I accept that maybe something could overtake Harry Potter one day, but not something in the exact same story universe…

And on top of that, there were random Simon Snow excerpts scattered throughout the book and… they kind of bored me. They felt so disjointed, like I was being thrown in and out of another story at random points. I had a hard time stringing them together to get a good overall picture of the story. It just seemed like: random excerpt from chapter 2, random excerpt from fan fiction chapter 8, random excerpt from chapter 14, random excerpt from fanfiction chapter 10, etc. And after a while, I just really didn’t care about them and wanted to skip them. I also don’t feel like they added to the story. At first the chapters were helpful to get to understand Simon Snow a little, but once I “got” it, the chapters were completely unnecessary and didn’t actually assist with the plot much at all (except the chapters that Cath was actually reading out loud, but those were separate).

And finally.. the ending. I thought the ending was very disappointing. There were a lot of build-ups towards the end— View Spoiler » —but then the book ended so suddenly. It’s almost like it just dropped off. Some of those things got half wrapped up, but others didn’t get wrapped up at all! It left me questioning what the point was to a lot of it.

I know my review has been positive-negative-negative-negative-negative.. but I didn’t hate Fangirl. I think I just feel really passionately about the things that bothered me, so they’re hogging all the attention in this review. But I do understand why so many people loved this book. Unfortunately, I let a few things dig their way in and annoy the crap out of me. But the whole point about there being highs and lows really rings true for me. There were some moments where I adored the book and didn’t want to put it down, but then there were others where I was sick of it and was ready for it to end. I am upset that I didn’t love it more though, because I kind of thought I would!

The Verdict


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  1. I’m definitely looking forward to reading this one…but I’m a bit confused as to how the author can create a world like Harry Potter…but not BE Harry Potter. It seems destined to bother the HP fans, doesn’t it?! Interesting choice on the author’s part, I guess. I love the premise though, so I still want this one. 😉

  2. I loved Fangirl but the ending also pissed me off! It seemed so sudden and I really wanted to learn more about what happens next. I totally agree with what you said about the Simon Snow parts but it doesn’t really diminish my opinion of the book. Great review!

    Shelly recently posted: Weekly Recap: September 23rd to 29th
  3. I have been hearing of this Simon Snow thing, and I honestly thought it was the equivalent of Harry Potter in Rowell’s world – not its superior! Very weird. It is like it is trying to prove that fanfiction can dominate original works? Really, what is the point of that mess? I would enjoy the awkwardness though. I know how it feels not to know how a system operates to the point where I avoid it entirely! I do not think I would enjoy this book as much as most of the blogosphere. Heck, I do not think I will even read it. At least it was pretty good for you though!

    Christine @ Oh, Chrys! recently posted: Why I Continue Reading Books I Do Not Like Much
    1. Yeah that’s what I thought too! They go on and on about how “Simon Snow has sold x million copies” and “is the most successful book of our time” and stuff like that… all those things that have been said about Harry Potter. And yet, Harry Potter also exists in this world but is completely overshadowed. HP is actually mentioned in the book several times. But how on earth could Simon Snow trump it? >_<

  4. I’ve been listening to this one for a couple of weeks now and I’ll turn on a chapter then put it back up then get it back out then listen again. . .I want to love it as book bloggers I know and love have raved about Rainbow Rowell’s books but I just don’t. The whole Harry Potter/Simon Snow issue really bothers me and why is Cath so nice to Wren when all I want to do is hit her! Love your review btw!

    Stacy (The Novel Life) recently posted: Weekly Link Love ~ Are You a Life-Long Learner?
    1. I agree 100%! I wanted to LOVE this book, and I thought I would… but I had the exact same issues you’re having. 🙁 I wanted to hit Wren too… throughout the entire book.

    1. I hope you like it a bit more than I did! I haven’t read Eleanor & Park, but I did just read Attachments and I ADORED it. Now that one might be one of my favourites!

  5. I was so curious to see your review after your comment on mine, Ashley. The incident with Levi didn’t bother me as much as it did you, but the Simon Snow stuff was a sticking point for me, too. It is weird and a bit unbelievable that it AND HP would co-exist and something so similar TO HP could overtake it.

    And I do agree with you. Looking back, the ending definitely felt really rushed.

    Molli recently posted: Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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