Home       About Me       Review Archive

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Published: September 10, 2013
Pages: 433
Source: Bought
Rating: 5 Stars

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?

In short: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell made a fangirl out of me.
"Loving Simon isn't something one does alone or once a year at a convention - for thousands of fans of all ages, loving Simon Snow is nothing less than a lifestyle." - pg. 141

Fangirl is the story of my life (I am only slightly exaggerating here). It is seriously so, SO similar to my life's experiences as an obsessive and active fan in the Harry Potter fandom. The above quote is so apt because for a decade, loving Harry Potter WAS a lifestyle for me. I never wrote any fanfiction as I am no writer, but there was a period in my life when all I ever read extracurricularly was Harry Potter and Harry Potter fanfiction. And in fact, I did read a number of Harry/Draco slash fanfics in my time that were EERILY reminiscent of Cath's Simon/Baz slash fanfics.

I am not a contemporary reader by any means and more often than not my reluctance for the genre stems largely from a feeling of discomfiture for the realism and relatability of a story line or character. You see, I prefer to read for escapism, plots that are far and away from my own life story. Contemporaries have the ability of cutting right to my core, drudging up uncomfortable experiences from my past, and creating feels that are not necessarily welcome. And Fangirl certainly did all these things. But for once, the scarily relatable story line didn't make me feel totally uncomfortable. It made me feel content and fulfilled.

And I cannot speak highly enough of Rainbow Rowell for this. Not only did she completely NAIL what it's like to be hopelessly obsessed and entirely involved in a fandom, only to have it end and have your raison d'ĂȘtre end with it, but also what it's like to start over in an unfamiliar setting as someone who has intense social anxiety (which is something else that I personally found hugely relatable about Cath...). Reading Fangirl was at times uncomfortable for me in the way that I have come to associate with highly relatable contemporaries, but it was also deeply rewarding. I finished the last page with happy tears and an overwhelming sense of closure. And it's been a long time since I've had that experience with a book.

Okay, so you can probably tell that my love for Fangirl was highly subjective and dependent on my own personal experiences. So now let me say a few things that might be useful for those of you who may not be able to relate as strongly as I did to Fangirl: I haven't read characters and dialogue this charming since Anna and the French Kiss. Seriously. And for those of you who, like me, have been frustrated at the limited and repetitive selection of NA books available - THIS is the New Adult book we've been asking for! A NA book set in college in which the romantic interest ISN'T a goonbag - who knew?

So yes, I guess you could say Fangirl made a fangirl out of me (sorry for the cheese). But for real - Rainbow Rowell became one of my top favourite authors with just one book. And that makes me a fangirl for LIFE.

Other Reviews:
A Girl, Books, and Other Things
Just Another Story
Late Nights with Good Books

Author Links:


  1. Yay I'm so glad to see you enjoyed Fangirl! I didn't write fanfiction either but I also found it super relateable. And I totally agree with how you said that this is NA done right, I totally agree! Awesome review! :)

  2. Wonderful review. I really want to read this one and I'm sure I'll totally relate because my childhood really WAS Harry Potter. I actually did write fanfiction, but I never posted it online. I just have some in notebooks. And I'll admit, I read the Harry/Draco fanfiction too...I still randomly read it. They just have the chemistry, what can I say? ;)


  3. We are exactly the same type of reader, Aylee. It's like you described me in your opening paragraph. I am an escapist, which is why I tend to avoid contemporary and why I still haven't read anything by Rowell.
    I have no idea what it's like to be such a huge fan of something. I have loved boks beyond reason, but I tend to keep it to myself. I'm very curious to see how it all functions, especially when you say it's so well done.
    Fabulous review!

  4. YAY! You love Fangirl!! !I'm so happy! It was scary at times, right? how much Cath was such a fangirl, I was like "Oh yeah, been there." about a dozen times int he books - I was an obsessive HP fan too - and how you heart breaks and sighs when a new book is out and you get closer to the end.


    Also, I'm with you on the NA! Is such a mess. I so don't like that genre, is like most authors think NA is just messed up YA with sex. and books like Fangirl prove that it can be so much more.

    Anyway, :) Glad you liked it and thanks for the shout out ;)

  5. Yay, I am glad you liked this one. I still think about it and how much I enjoyed it. Rainbow did such a good job with it. I really like the word goonbag, I may steal that from you one of these days. I loved your review and I appreciate your explanation as to why you tend to stray away from contemporary.

    Thanks for the review!

  6. I serious NEED to read this one! Cath sounds so similar to me. I used to do HP message board roleplaying, which is basically two-person fanfic (HEX ftw). I wasn't as bit of Harry/Draco slash and I was into Dramione. Pretty sure I just revealed myself to be a huge nerd on the internet (as if it didn't already know).

    The point of my rambling is that I love that you loved this book and I feel like the last person to have not read it and loved it and I will probably order it later today. And I apologize for the spazzy 3:30am comment. Working my 7th straight night shift can do that to a person.

  7. Awwwwwwwwww I love love love that you loved loved loved this and I'm SO jealous that you got to meet her!

    FAB review.

  8. So SO very thrilled that you loved this one as much as you did...I was really hoping you would since you're one of the few other bloggers who, like me, was (and still is) hopelessly obsessed with HP XD When I got this one at BEA, I was worried since as you know I'm not much of a contemporary reader. Like, at all. I used to read tons of it but since I started reading for fun again after Uni, I find my need for escapism has doubled and like you, contemporaries just don't cut it - plus they have all those unpleasant feelings that they do tend to drudge up in my too O_O

    That being said, I feel like this has some of that escapism that you mentioned in the fan-fic elements...and those would definitely be relatable. I might not have been as into them as some, but I understand not being able to let go of a series like HP and to be reading all about it. All. The. Time. So yeah, I love how much love you have for Fangirl, and how it just had such a wonderful effect on you :) I'm hoping to get to this one soon as well!

    Thanks for the truly lovely review & for sharing that sweet pic of you and Rainbow!!

  9. I recently read Attachments and loved it so I've been trying to decide which of her YA books I should read next. I'm thinking Fangirl is going to be it, sounds adorable. So awesome you were able to meet her too!

  10. I'm SO glad to hear you loved this too. You're so right, Rowell totally nailed the experience of living and breathing a fandom. "A NA book set in college in which the romantic interest ISN'T a goonbag - who knew?" Haha, love this! :D I loved the characters and wish there was more story! Great picture of you and Rainbow, and awesome review!

  11. I loved this book! I haven't written my own review yet, but it will look largely like yours. It's definitely the type of NA book I've been hoping to see more of. But mostly I loved this book because I was obsessed with Harry Potter since fifth grade, when I read the first one. The last book came out the summer I graduated from high school - that book was my childhood!

    I have to admit, though, that I wrote a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction. My first fan fic was titled "Voldemort comes to the Quidditch Match." It was supposed to be like a page but ended up being 50. I was in fifth grade. I kept writing fan fiction through college, stopping only when I had my first relationship and lost interest. I wasn't into Harry/Draco, but I was into Harry/Snape, so there was still that animosity to deal with. She absolutely nailed the feeling! This was such an awesome book!

  12. I do not enjoy contemporary that much either for the same reason you do - I like to escape and be entertained when I read. This sounds like a contemporary that I would LOVE. I'm interested to see how well I could relate to Cath and her obsessiveness. I don't see myself as obsessive but I think others would disagree ;)

    1. I hope you love this one, too! I will say though that there were a surprising number of f bombs in this one, as well as other curse words. Cath's dad has a bit of a potty mouth, you see.

    2. Aw thanks for telling me. That's sweet of you to remember I'm not a fan of the f-bomb. I might still give it a try sometime. We'll see :)

  13. Great review! I need to read this asap :)

  14. Something about the covers and book blurbs of Rainbow Rowell's books just doesn't appeal to me, but I've read so many rave reviews, I'm tempted to give one a try just to see what all the hype is about :)

  15. Love the picture! I really enjoyed this book too it was so well written and honest and real! I loved Cath and I think a lot of us can really relate to her being obsessed over a fictional world as well as being a bit social awkward - aren't we all? :) Also good comparison with the Anna and the French Kiss dialogue! I loved that book too it was so sweet! Great review, Aylee! :)

  16. I really enjoyed this one too, Aylee, although I probably didn't relate as much to Cath as you did ;) In terms of a NA book, I couldn't agree more! I've avoided the NA genre just because it seems like every NA book has a "good" girl falling in love with the "bad" boy and it's a way for the author to incorporate lots of sex into the story. Fangirl had none of these tropes, and it was awesome!

  17. I'm so afraid to read this and be the only person int he blogosphere that doesn't like it lol Although I have no reason to think I won't.

    I'm so tired of the same old NA tropes so I really want to give this one a shot.

  18. So glad to see that you loved this so much! I just started it yesterday, and I'm already falling head over heels for this book :)

    Fantastic review!!

  19. I am glad that you were able to relate to this one, Aylee! I was so, so ready to feel exactly as you express in this review, and I'm still upset that didn't happen for me. But I guess we can't like them all. Glad you were able to find a new favorite author! :)

  20. Oh my God, Aylee! I can totally relate with you here and in turn with Cath. Since I turned 13 and read Harry Potter, all I'd read and reread till I turned nearly 16 was Harry Potter. Here's a big fandom hug from me to you!

    Now getting back to the main topic at hand, I'm so happy because 1) you finally read a NA Contemporary! (I'm so proud of you) and 2) you loved it! (Woohoo!).

    I am so looking forward to Fangirl since so long now and I really hope I can read it soon. I loved your review and the photo with the author. Thank you for sharing this great post!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

  21. wow, everyone is loving this author! I want to read her books and fall in love with them too, but I'm still not convinced they're for me. And then what if I read them and I'm the ONE person who doesn't love them?! Aahh way too scary :P I hear what you're saying about contemporaries. I think that's part of my aversion to them, too. That and the lack of escapism.

    1. You should totes read them!! You know I don't fangirl easily, but these are good.

  22. You've definitely piqued my interest. I would have never even considered this book before reading your review. You said the magic words though, Anna and the French Kiss - OMG how I adored that book! If this is anything like it, no matter what, I'm sure I'd love it. Great review gal!

  23. I LOVE Fangirl! Cath and Levi are such great characters, but even the supporting characters are perfect. I cried and laughed and had so much fun with this book.

    I love your blog title. New follower. :)

  24. I'm not a contemporary reader like you, so I'm happy you loved it! I think I'll really like this book too, since I've been through the same phase where Harry Potter was my life. I'm still a huge fangirl, so I think it will be easy to identify myself with this story :D


  25. I felt like this book was telling me what my college experience will be like next year.

    Fangirl was the perfect Christmas read!

    Let's just hope I find a Levi for myself, too. XD

    Here's the full review on my blog: http://geekie-chic.blogspot.in/2013/12/fangirl-by-rainbow-rowell-book-review.html