Pages - Menu


Friday, November 8, 2013

Pin It


Book Review: Fangirl

My first book review! Well, here’s hoping we all survive this experience.

I’ll admit, I shied away from reading this book when it first came out because I had a feeling it would hit too close to home. I eyed the cover art (by Noelle Stevenson) with suspicion, yet curiosity. Truth be told, I come from the old school fangirl tradition, one of mailing lists, IRC, AOL chatrooms, web crawlers, and after-school Internet fixes limited by the whims of *gasp* dial-up. But I know the new-school ways well enough. Would I be able to bear a novel-length portrayal of a lifestyle with which I was so intimate?

Cath is about to begin her first year of college. Piece of cake, right? Except Cath’s not ready. She’s not so sure about leaving the nest and her manic single dad unattended. And she’s not ready to say goodbye to her past roommate of eighteen years—oh sure, her twin sister Wren is attending the same school, but Wren’s looking at this as an opportunity for them to both explore their individuality. Separately. And Cath is definitely not crazy about the idea of socializing with a campus full of strangers. Not when she could be working on her magnum opus, an insanely popular fan fiction based on the equally insanely popular book series Simon Snow.

Before we dive in, a bit of terminology. Fan fictionfanfic for shortis a story based on an existing fictional work written by a fan of that work. Fangirl is a term commonly used for female fans. Then there's fandom, which refers to the community of fans around a fictional work, be it a book, movie, TV show, comic, or what have you.

Fangirl is funny, honest, and doesn’t talk down to the fangirls of the world: rather, Rowell brings us into the world of young fanfic writers and the stories they love to love. Chapters are interspersed with excerpts from Cath and Wren’s fan fiction, along with excerpts from the Simon Snow books; there are seven, soon to be eight, and it’s this upcoming release that Cath races to beat with the completion of her fanfic Carry on, Simon. These snippets provide a window into Cath’s secret life and at times provide a subtle commentary on the challenges she faces in the real world.

While Cath explores the relationship between Simon Snow and his roommate Tyrannus Basilton Pitch (called Baz)—arch nemeses in the Snow series—in the real world she must navigate her own love stories. Like her budding friendship with Levi, who’s always hanging about Cath’s dorm room, and Nick, her new writing partner. One thing that annoys me about love triangles is that there’s always one guy I just can’t stand (of course this is the guy the girl inevitably chooses, it’s just meant to be), but I found myself liking Levi and Nick equally.

We soon see that at home, Cath and her sister Wren take care of their father as much as he takes care of them. They only have each other since the twins’ mother ran out on the family. Now, Cath spends a great deal of time worrying about both her dad and her sister. When things go wrong, it seems like the very people she’d normally run to for help are the ones least able to give it. I really feel for her in these moments, when everything’s spiraling out of control and she must rise to the occasion.

But it’s the love story between Cath and her OTP (one true pairing) that I found most compelling. It’s a relationship that Cath doesn’t talk about willingly. People can tell by the posters hanging up in her dorm room that she’s a Simon Snow fan, but she protects Magicath, her writing pseudonym, like a secret identity. I can relate; when you’re desperately trying to fit into in a new environment, you don’t want to be judged for the things that you hold dear.

I also understand Cath’s shock and sadness when Professor Piper, her esteemed Fiction Writing instructor, tries to persuade her to give up fan fiction—in class, anyway. Cath isn’t ready to abandon an eight-year relationship, and at this point she doesn’t think she can. She doesn’t see right away that she really is capable of so much more. She’s a talented writer, and she has stories inside of her waiting to be told.

The writing is clever and streamlined, making Fangirl’s 448 pages go quickly. Rowell knows her way around the headspace of an eighteen-year-old girl. I lived for the dialogue, which was dry and quick-witted. Cath's meal-time chats with her roommate Reagan always made me grin. I felt I knew Simon and Baz as well as I knew Cath, and I wish I could’ve seen more of their adventures. The end seemed to come too quick for me, and at first it seemed a bit incomplete. I was hoping to see some reconciliation between Cath and her mom, but later I realized that subplot did reconcile, in an unexpected way.

I was pleasantly surprised by Fangirl. It’s something of a love letter to aspiring writers, and an endearing, honest view into college life that I believe young adults will enjoy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go browse around Archive of Our Own for Simon Snow fan fiction.

Have you read Fangirl? Wanna chat about it? Head over to the forum to discuss!

Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: New Adult, Contemporary

Recommendation: Yes

Best Reader Audience: People in their early 20s

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 dozy foxes

Looking for a new fandom to joinUse the link below and your purchase will also support the Lone Book Club!

No comments:

Post a Comment