Book Reviews

review; fangirl


by Rainbow Rowell

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?

I have found my literary counterpart. Cather Avery. Hands down.

I think most readers or writers (particularly fanfiction writers) would identify with her. Shy, socially awkward, more inclined to write than to go out and party. I may not have her painful anxiety – though I am not good with crowds and/or people – but there is just something about her that I identify with.

And I think that’s a lot of what I love about Fangirl. Cath does not go through this makeover phase and blossom into someone else – no, from start to end, she is still the same girl, she just gains a few friends and learns more about herself.

Her descriptions of writing are exactly why I write. To disappear. To get lost in another world and not have to deal with this one. I am constantly crafting fanfiction in my head as well.

Rainbow Rowell has created a character that many of the internet generation can identify with. And created a compelling cast of side-characters to accompany Cath on her journey to learn more about herself. The novel not only lets Cath grow, but is accurate in portraying that college is where many people find themselves and learn more about themselves and – I’m not getting this out right.

But I loved each and every page of this novel. The ones with Cath reading to Levi, the ones where you can tell that Levi is completely enamoured with Cath but Cath cannot see it, the ones where Reagan is just being Reagan (I love Reagan, her snark and disinterest in the world gives me life), even the ones where Wren and Cath are arguing. Nick and Cath’s writing partnership reminds me of myself and some friends. Minus the taking full credit of a two-person project part. The flow of the writing, the breaks in between each chapter with parts of different stories – everything is so gorgeously crafted.

Rainbow may have written the book I never knew I wanted to write, and written it infinitely better than I could ever have hoped to write it. Dammit.

[Not that this will ever stop me from writing. Or reading Rainbow’s other works because GIVE ME MORE PLEASE.]

I’m Ara, a Southeast Asian writer who someday hopes to have published a novel, and who is currently losing herself in the worlds created by others. I love books and food and television and blogging and I get distracted and sidetracked easily.


  • Cait @ Paper Fury

    I LOVED THIS BOOK SO MUCH TOO!! Cath is soooo relatable. Like introverted, socially anxious, writer and fangirl?! Like she is all of us. *happy tears* I also totally appreciated how she didn’t have to learn not to be shy or anything. Like tHANK YOU Rainbow Rowell, for writing this glorious novel. ?

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