(Note: In case any viewers are confused, something appeared to go wrong last night with the upload of this full review. I have therefore had to rewrite and re-upload it. Apologies for any inconvenience and here it is!).
Published in the UK in 2014, Fangirl is a contemporary Young Adult fiction novel written by Rainbow Rowell. The 456 paged novel follows the main character Cath as she begins University along with her twin sister, Wren. With her sister determined to become more independent, Cath is faced with going through Uni life without Wren to lean on as well as overcoming the challenges which life at University presents: socializing, course work, boys and of course finishing her beloved fan-fiction before the release of the final book.
Warning: Potential Spoilers ahead…
The story itself is presented to us by way of a 3rd person narrative following the main character Cath. Her character is, in my own opinion, one whom I can easily relate to due to her social awkwardness, introverted personality and, well, fangirlish-ness. The first chapter does well in diving straight into showing just how similar and different her and Wren, her identical twin sister, are. However, to Cath’s clear dismay, Wren is more focused on creating more differences between them as they set off for University.
Throughout the rest of the story, the format of the events allows us to follow Cath on her own adventure as well as providing excerpts of the fictional world of the Simon Snow series – a Harry Potter like tale – and extracts from the fan-fiction which Cath writes for it. The combination of all three stories, whilst somewhat disorientating during the first read – really just goes to prove how talented a writer Rainbow Rowell is, with each addition fitting seamlessly into the plot! Another aspect of the novel which must be complimented is how Rowell introduces the other characters aside from Cath and Wren incredibly well such as Cath’s roommate Reagan, her friend Levi, and Cath’s classmate, Nick, all of whom become a significant part in Cath’s life whilst she is at University. Each character is extremely believable and in their own way likable. They have their individual personalities and even their own flaws which in fact make them all the more interesting.
Another particular aspect of the story I found interesting was romance, particularly because it did not turn out how I expected. Personally, I am not a fan of love stories in the general sense so I was more focused on Cath’s adventure as a fan-girl when I first began reading the book. However, the interactions between Cath and the male characters of Nick and Levi was something which I came to really enjoy reading. Both were, to be honest, suitable suitors although I must admit I was more in favor of Nick until at least halfway through the story. Levi’s character, at first, seemed almost too eager and a little pushy at times so I was surprised when the story seemed to take a turn and Cath began to slowly fall for Levi. I was even more surprised when I began to warm up to his character as well! In addition to this love story which played out throughout the novel, I also enjoyed how (unlike many love stories I have read) Rowell did not create characters who are placed upon a pedestal. Each character, not just Levi and Nick, but also even Cath has their flaws, something which makes them interesting as I said before but also even more realistic and relateable.
Overall, this book definitely makes it into my list of top ten books which I have ever read and I highly recommend it to readers. Now, onto the things which I feel could have improved the novel…
Please note, this is the first book review I am writing in which I state criticisms of the book… Please do not assume that this makes me like the book any less as I found this novel extremely enjoyable to read and even to this day it remains one of my favourite YA books! However, bearing that in mind there are a few things which could be said against the book and those which could have made it an even more interesting read. For example, throughout the novel we follow Cath as she embarks on her own adventures. In addition to this we are also provided with extracts from the ‘published’ Simon Snow novels as well as extracts from Cath’s own fan fiction revolving around the magical individual. This layout proves how talented a writer Rainbow Rowell is as she incorporates all three ‘parts’ together throughout the length of the novel.
However, the presentation and ‘jumpiness’ does take a while to get used to. Aside from that, however, the opportunity to read both the ‘canon’ novel extracts and Cath’s fan-fiction works only makes the story even more interesting and once one gets used to the format of the story, it becomes much easier to slip back and forth between them. Another thing that isn’t a criticism of the book, really, but just something that I would have liked to have read would be some chapters following or presenting Wrens point of view. Really this is just because I found her character just as interesting as Cath’s and whilst we learned about Cath’s personality and preferences fairly early on in the novel, we only ‘saw’ her actions through Cath’s eyes without learning of her motivations towards such behaviour or choices unless she revealed them to her sister. Overall, these are the only things I would have liked to have seen in the book which were missing and do keep in mind that this is my first critique of a book within it’s review and I am coming to understand how difficult it is to critique a book especially when you enjoy it so much.
No words can describe how much I enjoyed reading this book or how highly I recommend it to other readers, even if it isn’t your usual genre of book to read I plead that you give it a go! Like me, you might be surprised and find yourself enjoying it. Also, to any out there who have in fact read this book, if you’d like someone to discuss it with please feel free to contact me because I am having a difficult time finding individuals to fan-girl over Fangirl with. Also, Rainbow Rowell, if you ever read this, know that at least one individual out in the world would LOVE for a second novel to be released showing what happened next to all these beloved characters and thank you for bringing them into existence in the first place.
Here’s a few of my favourite parts:
Favourite Chapter: A combination of chapters 12 & 13 in which Cath reads to Levi.
Favourite Character: Cath.
Favourite Quote: “It’s never over… It’s Simon.” – Wren (Chapter 37, Page 453).