Maybe not fangirling like I do over my countless other fandoms (cough Batman cough), but I definitely enjoyed this book.
Rainbow Rowell is my favorite young adult contemporary author albeit the only one I read. Perhaps it is the way her stories invoke this sense of immense nostalgia in me. Perhaps it is how I can relate to most everything she pens. Either way, I love her. I love her stories. I love what she creates. I am strictly a fantasy/sci fi/paranormal type of girl. Contemporary really is not my thing to read or write. Somehow, Rainbow Rowell has sucked me in.
Earlier this year I read my first book by her, Eleanor & Park. This was an exceptional, fantastic book that made me think about first loves and the meaning behind it. I patiently waited for her newest book, Fangirl, and tried to avoid any spoilers that popped up before I could get my hands on it. She has a third, adult book called Attachments that I must hunt down to read next.
Lots of bloggers and booktubers alike said that Fangirl was better then Eleanor & Park. I am not one of them. While this story was fresh and different, it lacked the charm that I felt with E&P. That was one of my biggest gripes with the book. There was no charm. It took longer for me to get into this story, to laugh out loud, to enjoy it. Fangirl is, at it’s core, about a girl named Cath who is a Simon Snow fangirl and fanfiction author. Simon Snow is the Harry Potter-esque book series that is nearing it’s end and Cath’s own fanfiction called ‘Carry On, Simon’ has tens of thousands of fans. Cath feels she must finish her story before Simon Snow’s author wraps up the story for good.
That is what I felt was the core of the story which others would probably disagree with, but the novel is called Fangirl is it not? The entire thing seemed to be a balancing act between Cath writing this story and the various other things happening in her life. Cath is a freshman in college where she and her twin sister, Wren, attend. Wren, who I found so unlikeable for the majority of the book, is all ready to grow up to fast while Cath wants to remain rooted in her Simon Snow fandom which has defined her for so many years. The pieces of Simon Snow canon and fanon excerpts mixed within the story were often jarring, taking me out of the initial story.
This all probably sounds very critical of a book I said I loved. It was a darn good book. It was very light reading which is great to speed through and lose yourself in. What made the book loveable was how relatable Cath was. She is probably my favorite female character in quite some time. I was Cath. In many ways, I still am Cath. The book seemed to want Cath not to be herself. Even at times she thought about leaving her fandom behind. Why? There is nothing wrong with being in a fandom as long as you can balance it out. I think that was something Cath was learning towards the end. I was an avid Harry Potter fan that cried when I picked up my copy of Deathly Hallows at the midnight release. I also wrote slash fanfiction like Cath when I was in highschool and early college. My couple of choice: Remus Lupin and Sirius Black.
The book truly shined on describing how a fandom feels to the people within one. These were the most enjoyable parts of the novel. Cath felt that she knew the characters better then their own creator and, often, a fandom believes they know what is best (hello, Mass Effect fans. Got that ending changed, didn’t you).
Cath’s relationship within this book with the cast of characters was also a highlight regardless of if I liked the characters or not. They were all handled very well.
I would not recommend Fangirl over Eleanor & Park. If you asked me which one of Rainbow Rowell’s books you should read, it would be Eleanor & Park. However, Fangirl is still a fun read despite some hiccups.