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 don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take oﬀ.”
― Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl
Rainbow Rowell’s contemporary novel Fangirl manages to do something many books can’t do: Make you hate and root for a character all at once. The 400 plus page book will zip by regardless of it’s few drawbacks. Between excellent characters and an engaging main growth line for Cath, the story’s main character, I found it easy to forgive the book for having a familiar writing style with little character or an entire plot line that could’ve been developed more or thrown out the window. Really, do either with that plot line and it would’ve worked.
The characters all exhibit some form of quirkiness though each has their own method to that madness. This made every scene with them a blast to read. Each wasn’t quirky for the sake of quirky, however, as they seem to have some history there that isn’t explained but can be found between the lines. Levi, for example, is the most likable by far. He always plays the nice guy, no matter what, and aims to make people smile at every opportunity. Art, Cath’s dad, with his rather fitting name, is on the opposite end of the quirk spectrum. He works by writing ideas down on many diﬀerent types of paper and spreading them across the room and if one piece is moved the whole thing is ruined for him. He takes these things seriously that it is fun to read about but does become a critical fault for him.
The fun in the quirkiness ends with Cath. Her sister is fun but Cath is that friend you keep around but you aren’t sure why. She begins this journey as an introverted mess that won’t leave her bubble. Eventually she meets Levi who begins to get her to open up and that’s where things for her get more interesting. The ending image of her is a far more likable, though not entirely diﬀerent, than the one you want to kick in the beginning.
This book isn’t perfect, however, and not because of Cath. Entirely. That entire plot line I mentioned? That’s present throughout the whole book. It wasn’t just a small piece. It’s all within her Fictional Writing class. Luckily it wasn’t enough to deter me or make me want to put the book down. It is just cluttered with strange character decisions that don’t add up. I would’ve enjoyed more explanation or even removal of this whole ordeal. If this were a tougher read this may pose a problem as I would’ve been stuck in this slump longer.
Fangirl doesn’t set itself apart much from Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell’s other comparable novel, in that you wish you could tell the main character to shut up most of the time but somehow there is redemption at the end. With solid pacing in a contemporary setting and a mostly great storyline I can recommend this to anyone who enjoys a fun and smooth read. I can only stress that you should push yourself through the Fictional Writing class sections and you will find a real gem.