Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 2013
Series: Stand Alone
Reason for Discovery: the Internet
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?
Twin sisters Cath and Wren are starting freshman year of college. Unlike Wren who is excited about starting a new chapter of her life and making friends with people who don't know her as a twin first, Cath is scared. Cath is used to her life, which includes taking care of her father who suffers from manic episodes and writing Simon Snow fanfiction (aka Harry Potter fanfiction). Slowly yet surely, Cath starts to make friends but she isn't ready to let go of her high school life just yet.
I had high expectations going into this book. I had really enjoyed Attachments and Eleanor & Park plus the Internet as a whole seems to be in love with this book. I don't know why I was worried, because Rainbow Rowell knows how to deliver. Seriously, this book is very adorable.
First of all, I love the premise that Cath is a big fanfiction nerd. I read my fair share of fanfiction over the years, including The X-Files, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who, so the idea that Cath writes fanfiction just seemed very cozy to me. If you never read any fanfiction, you will not be out a limb with this book. The main point of this story line is that Cath spends a lot of time writing for her Internet fans and feels devoted to them. You know, kind of like book blogging. ;) Rainbow Rowell separates chapters with excerpts from Cath's fanfiction and from the Simon Snow books. By the end of Fangirl, I really wanted to read both Cath's work and the Simon Snow books. I sense a Harry Potter rereading coming on!
Second, I really enjoyed all of the characters in this book. They were sweet and endearing but still had their flaws. These characters reminded me of people that I knew in college back in the day. These characters felt genuine and not over the top. Cath and Wren (and the rest of the characters) appeared to act consistently within themselves and dealt with issues in a way that seemed natural for them. I never felt like characters were suddenly acting in bizarre ways to help the plot.
Third, the plot was super cute. Fangirl is a combination of a finding yourself story and a romance; however, Cath also deals with some "heavy" issues. I was pleasantly surprised that the story wasn't all super adorable all of the time. The heaviness of some of the story balanced things out, so the story didn't end up feeling cheesy. At the same time, I was happy that the heavy issues were not so crazy that I felt like I was just being voyeuristic regarding someone else's horrible tragedy. In other words, Cath's story was sweet and lovely but also realistic. Of course, the story does end on a high note, but it is a story after all.
Overall, this book was very lovely. I can see why the Internet loves this book so much. If you are looking for a contemporary romance/finding yourself book YA/NA (Cath is in college, does that count as NA?) book, Fangirl is for you. I read it in less than a day, and it made me smile for at least two days now (and counting!).
I give Fangirl a 5 out of 5.