Monday, October 7, 2013

Review: FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's
Source: a finished copy A HARDCOVER! provided by the publisher for an honest review.

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 In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, 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? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

First line: There was a boy in her room.

How I felt about this book.
I love this book. I have written and rewritten this introduction who knows how many times because I simply cannot find the words to express how much I fell in love with this book. So I'll simply leave it at "I love this book." And, of course, you can picture me dancing along with Genie. 

We meet Cath. Unlike her twin sister Wren, she's antisocial and way nerdier. Both of them have enjoyed fanfiction—Simon Snow fanfiction to be exact—but Cath took it way farther. Her life was revolved around writing the stuff, even doing it so long that it made my butt hurt just thinking about how long she was sitting.

What I really loved about Cath is that she embraces her geeky life. Some might say that she embraces it too much, but Rowell writes her in a way that it just made me love her even more. Unless you have never been fanatical about something which is so against human nature, are you a robot?, then you can relate to Cath. While I have never associated with fanfiction (we'll get to that later), I have been so personally invested in some form of entertainment that I easily connected with her.

So there's Cath, who not only is being thrown into the scary world of college with a new roommate and  experiencing separation anxiety from her sister and her unstable father, but then you add in the potentially lethal element of boys.

...Cath kept noticing things. 

She doesn't understand them (another thing we connect on) because, hey, she barely understands people. What's amazing is that even in third person, Rowell manages for me to feel what Cath is feeling and sympathize with her on a level that's hard for authors to do even in first person. She's confused. Wary. Suspicious. Vulnerable. They're a mix of emotions that I had no problem connecting with and giggling at as she tries to wade through all the situations in her life. 

"Look..." Cath said. "I can't just let strange guys into my room. I don't even know your name. This whole situation is too rapey."
"You understand," she said, "right?"
He dropped an eyebrow and shook his head, still smiling. "Not really. But now I don't want to come in with you. The word 'rapey' makes me uncomfortable."

And we meet Reagan. She was one of my favorite characters, providing humor and snark. After they ignored each other, Reagan decides to help a pathetic sister out by bringing her into the real world. 

"I feel sorry for you, and I'm going to be your friend." 
"I don't want to be your friend," Cath said as sternly as she could. "I like that we're not friends."
"Me, too," Reagan said. "I'm sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic."

Reagan was actually like Cath in the way of people. Even though Cath was socially awkward and therefore, did not want to be around people, Reagan just didn't like people. I love people, I do, but I felt like I was a mix of them both. Similar to Cath, I always/usually sometimes would rather be with my beloved fictional characters than people and like Reagan, I also just look at people and think, "Why do I have to be around you?" 

Wren was sporadically absent, but that was fine with me because less Wren meant more Reagan. And with Reagan comes the charming Levi. I have so many wonderful amazing, swoony, did I say amazing? quotes for him, but really, they're best when you read them as you're reading from the book, in context. 

I never understood fanfiction before. I always judged it as someone being lazy or even to the point of being rude. That's someone else's work, characters, and setting. Why are you messing with it? But I thank Rowell because I see the pull of fanfiction through Cath's eyes. She explained it in the book that she fully believes that they're the author's characters, she won't take credit, and she doesn't seek money from her fanfiction. Instead, it's her way to manipulate her favorite characters, to play a what-if scenario on her terms. I mean, who doesn't sometimes imagine how your favorite book should have turned out? Ahem, Mockingjay.

I really can't explain this book better than in gifs so for your gif-looking pleasure...

What Cath was like...and what I'm like

What I was like during a "revelation"

The romance

What I was like after I ended the book at an ungodly hour
Because I hated that it was over.
Verdict: An outstanding book that most definitely lives up to all the hype.


  1. Embracing the geek sounds awesome to me

  2. Hahahahah love the Smeagol gif! I liked Fangirl too. Cath was so adorable and innocent and your review...made me want to read it again! LOL. Reagan and Levi were just the best friends/one love interest (!!!) ever for Cath. This made me think about fanfiction too... I've never liked it either, but I understand the pull now. Awesome review, Sunny! (:

    1. YES! I loved those secondary characters with all my stinking heart. :)

  3. Yay! I'm so glad that you loved this book Sunny, I started this book today and I'm only 5% in, but already have a great feeling about it! I look forward to discussing this book with you as soon as I'm done! Love you review!!! :)

    1. So excited that you're reading it! ME TOO. When you're done, we're so discussing it.

  4. Oh Sunny! You had the experience with this one I WANTED to have. I liked it - my version of 4 stars - but I kept waiting and waiting to really LOVE it. I loved Levi and I connected with Cath at times. I think I just missed fully connecting somehow, and I wasn't fond of the rushed ending. But you really GOT Cath, which is awesome. I love the GIFs you included, and the quotes. Levi definitely had some very swoon-worthy moments. Lovely review, chica!

    1. Ah. That's disappointing! I mean, at least you liked it, but you didn't LOVE it, which stinks. I definitely understand. Thank you :)

  5. I'm glad you loved Fangirl so much! I didn't adore it as much as everyone else seems to, but I enjoyed it even though I'm not a fan of fanfiction either. Rowell really does show you the why of Cath's obsession, and best of all, the hobby is more about showing how change effects the narrator than about fanfiction itself. I feel like it could have been replaced by any number of "childish" activities and still have had the same effect.

    Yes, Raegan is a fantastic character. She plays off of Cath brilliantly and I think I liked her more than the main character. That exerpt you quoted is one of her best lines! :)

    1. And because I love Reagan so much, I must apologize to her for misspelling her name. I think I know a Raegan. Spelling differences in names are frustrating to keep track of.

    2. Well, you aren't alone. Molli ^ had pretty much the same reaction!

      Yes, I loved her! Haha, there are tons of spelling variations of different names. I dread when I meet a Megan. Meagan, Megaen, Megan, Megyn....I really hate it.

  6. YESSS so glad you chose to read this one. I mean, really, if you didn't, we'd have to have a serious talk here :P. I'd have to point to that already finished hardback and engage in a staring contest. BUT NO NEED BECAUSE YAY FOR FANGIRL! *dance with genie*

    Very true. Cath needs to get up and exercise a bit more, be less sedentary. I don't know how she could sit in a seat for too long. My butt starts to hurt too :P.

    Haha, yeah I think the major complaint I'd seen about this book was that it was too hard to relate to Cath because of the extreme reactions she had. Weellll I'm no robot but I don't know if I've ever been fanatical about something - depends on what you mean by fanatical :P.

    COLLEGE IS SO LIKE THAT. My god, it is impossible not to notice the boys everywhere. I grew up with three brothers and still somehow that did not prepare me for short, tacky bathrooms and shirtless chests and being way too comfortable around everyone in the hall o.O.

    Lol, who does understand boys? If you know someone, please point me towards her. AND YES to the third person working brilliantly. Even in E&P, her close third was very emotionally poignant. Some others go the limited route but the close perspective was what Fangirl needed, I think. Zooming out = less emotional.

    I don't understand how Levi kept his smile when she said 'rapey' lol o.O.

    Reagan was one of my favorite characters too. Haha, depends on the type of person, I think, sometimes for that look to be delivered :P. Levi in the beginning? Yes. Later? No way :). (But I am also this way too. Like I will never understand why people like to make chitchat while you're in the Post Office line. I'm not an unfriendly person, but small talk... *shudder* I am anti-people in those situations. You?)

    Wowza! I'm glad you read this book then o.O. Poor fan fiction! There are some people who make money off the fan fiction they write and that's a tad sad.

    GIF LOOKING PLEASURE IS ON. OMG YES TO THE SHELDON GIF. BBT FOR THE WIN. yaaay so glad the ungodly hour was worth it :D!

    1. HAHAHA, man, I love you.

      Oh, well, hello. I'm going to college, but it's a state college thing. So HOPEFULLY when I go to the university and live in the dorms, I'll have that same experience ;)

      I am SO an anti-people in those situations! Really, I have to be careful to not be anti-social all the time, even though I do like people for the most part. But those kind of situations? LEAVE ME ALONE.

      Hahah! Thanks!

  7. She really did embrace her geekiness! So glad you loved this one!

  8. This review made me smile so huge, and your quotes had me laughing out loud! I get giddy whenever I see that someone else connected to this story as much as I did. I love when authors write stories that magically connect to all of us in some way. I've never gotten into fanfiction either, and I like that you point out how much better you appreciate it after this story. I'd definitely agree with that. What I love about this story is that Cath embraces her geekyness (great point!) and never apologizes or loses it. She's still the same girl by the end, but so much stronger. And LEVI. Sa-woon. WoW. This review made me happy :).

    1. Your comment is making me smile so huge! Isn't that the best feeling? When someone else has the same kind of love for a book, it's one of the greatest benefits of blogging. Haha! Thanks for the great comment ;)

  9. You are just so freaking cute, Sunny! I love seeing all the love for this book all over the interwebz! And I agree, I didn't really get the appeal of fanfiction before this book, but it makes sense to me now...I even almost want to write some of my own. :P Oh, and Levi...holy wow, that is one swoon-worthy guy. I'm so glad you loved this book, too, Sunny!!!!