Friday, March 28, 2014

Book Review: 'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell

Pages: 459
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
Australia Release Date: 01/04/2014
Original Release Date: 10/09/2013
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
RRP:  $16.99
Received from publisher for review.

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She would rather bury herself in the fan-fiction she writes where there's romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life.

 Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible ...


I can't remember if my review request for this on Netgalley was accepted or not (I haven't been on Netgalley in a long time), but if it did, then I am a complete idiot for waiting all this time (As you can see there is quite a difference in AUS and USA release dates) to read something so awesome. I had heard that this book was good before reading it, however it was the title and the premise that intrigued me the most. Obviously there are many of you in the USA or other places that might have already read this novel, but it doesn't come out till Tuesday for us Aussies. As usual it's going to be a spoiler free as-much-as-it-can-be-without-becoming-vague review.

Meet Cather. Cather is a serious fangirl who loves to write. She is obsessed with the fictional 'Simon Snow' series and has all the paraphernalia to prove it. I think a lot of people who participate in a fandom of any kind and at any level will appreciate this book. Cather compares the book with the movie, wears fandom t-shirts, struggles to justify her obsession with her roommate and thinks of Gemma T Leslie (the author of the 'Simon Snow' books) as a kind of god. I know that some of you bookworms will concur that these things are all too easy to relate to. And, a smart move on the behalf of Rainbow Rowell because creating a protagonist that readers can relate to is definitely the first step in creating a darn good piece of fiction.

Cath is also a little anti-social and can get anxious about little things. She doesn't want to ask stupid questions, so she avoids it completely even if that means she hardly ever leaves her dorm room. She has some interesting perspectives on different aspects of life and while she can crack some witty jokes she often gets a little puzzled over some things because she seems to have reserved the "general knowledge" department of her mind for Simon Snow and friends. Now surely I'm not the only blogger who can relate to that.

While Cath is at university to take advanced writing classes she constantly finds herself back in her dorm room writing fan-fiction about Simon Snow instead of working on her actual projects for class. Cath is quite good at fan-fiction and she has a lot of followers waiting on her every word. Cath begins to find out the hard way that she does have to learn to put her fandom aside at times to work on more important things, and, that creating an original work can be more complex than she had originally thought.

Cath's family is a little messed up. Okay, little is an understatement. Cath, her twin sister Wren and their father have all suffered since the girls' mother left. It just goes to show what a huge impact abandonment can have on a family and that it can still affect them many years later. Rowell lightly skims the surface of issues relating to living with a person who has a mental illness and the effects of binge-drinking and alcoholism.  I also feel like the names Cath's mother chose for the girls is almost symbolic of her feelings towards them. (Sorry if that doesn't really make sense. I promise it will once you read the book)Cath and Wren's feelings regarding the 'Simon Snow' books also show us that the books have at times been there for Cath and Wren the way  that their mother couldn't.

Wren and Cath are identical twins that can be told apart by haircuts and a pair of spectacles. Wren and Cath used to be close, but this year they are beginning to drift apart. In one way it is a good thing, because Wren was definitely dominant and Cath leaned on her too much. Though I do feel sorry for Cath and understand why she is so dependent.

And now meet Levi. Levi is Cath's roomate Reagan's ex. Levi and Reagan are just friends and they study a lot together. Cath meets Levi on her first day at college and she's not really sure of him. Over time Cath begins to learn what a sweet guy Levi is and that he would do anything for anyone. He is a bit of a "Farm Boy" and to her surprise; a complete opposite to Cath. In this book the relationships do get you to question what "love" is. Even though Levi is not Cath's first boyfriend it definitely seems like he is.

Levi also has some issues with reading. He can read, but he doesn't feel like he really absorbs any of the information. I kind of love that the author included this because I sometimes feel this way about some non-fiction/technical things. If it's not in simple terms sometimes the words just fly over my head and I always thought that that was due to a lack of concentration, but maybe it's just not always the best way to be taught. And, I liked that this was addressed in a book about writing and reading because it's a small reminder that not everyone is good at reading and that we shouldn't take our ability to read for granted.

As for the writing... I absolutely adored Rainbow Rowell's writing style. This novel was told in third person which took me a little while to get used to because I haven't read one of those for a while! I fell in love with Rowell's quirky characters and storyline. I felt like she captured all of the awkward bits perfectly and that the story was totally quotable. There were also plenty of awesome references - nerds rejoice! And, also loved the excerpts of Simon Snow stuff.

Here is one of my favourite parts:
"When she looked back at Levi, he was dancing, too. Exactly the way she would have imagined him dancing if she'd ever tried. Too long and too loose, running his fingers through his hair. (Dude. We get it. Extreme widow's peak.) His eyes were absolutely gleaming with mirth. Putting out light."

Overall I rate this 5 out of 5 stars and a FAVOURITE. I feel like I have discovered reading all over again after reading this and this is definitely something I would pick up again soon if I didn't have a TBR pile that was bigger than me. This feels like nothing I have ever read before. I wish Rainbow Rowell would make the Simon Snow books a reality so that I could read them.
I am wishing for a sequel to 'Fangirl'.
I am wishing for a t-shirt that says 'Team Levi'.
I am wishing for a movie adaptation.

(I guess I will just have to start with the rest of Rainbow Rowell's books and see how I go with those first. That's usually what I do once I fall completely head over heels for fiction. )

What can I say. The perfect book for the bookish girl.

Also... I recommend this to pretty much anyone unless you hate Young-Adult fiction with female protagonists.

I apologise for any spoilers, overly vague notes or ranting that eluded my ever-not-so-clever editing eye.

Your Favourite Blogger,

P.S. Did you Know that there is a whole heap of 'Fangirl' Fangirls out there in the big wide web? (Probably Fanboys too...) And, that some of them make Fan-art and/or write Fan-fiction. That's a special kind of inception, that is. Check out Rainbow Rowell's Pinterest Account to see coffee cup artwork, comic strips, edited photos and even nail art inspired by this awesome novel, created by fans of 'Fangirl'.


Jessica Cangiano said...

The idea of Fangirl fangirls made me smile. It's endearingly wonderful that in this day and age (where so much is driven by technology and the next big thing, or the perception of it), books are still able to create such passion and devotion in some of their readers.

Wishing you a marvelous weekend,
♥ Jessica

*PS* Thank you very much for both of your great comments today. I have no idea when and where our eventual honeymoon will be (assuming it happens at all), but Italy is definitely at the top of my dream travel wishlist on that front (or for any trip). If it does happen some day, I'll definitely be blogging about it. :)

Missie said...

I loved Eleanor & Park so much - I need to read this one!
Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

Natalie_vintage_girl said...

@ Jessica yes it is nice to know that even though so much has changed about our world we can still enjoy a good book :)

@Missie I hope to read 'Eleanor & Park' and any other Rainbow Rowell books out there!