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Rainbow Rowell's "Fangirl"- a contemporary novel
Rainbow Rowell's "Fangirl" Book Cover
I first found about this book while I made my weekly searches in Amazon to find new books to read. I saw it in the “New and Notable” category months ago in the YA page in the website, and as a “recommended for you” one. It became part of my amazon wish list the minute I read the title and the synopsis. As many before me, the title stood out because of me being personally a fangirl of many fandoms. I believe that this is one of the reasons of why this YA book has become a big deal since it came out. But it wasn’t until I started watching videos of the booktube community, that is a youtube community that focuses on their love of books, that I really aw the hype that the book had acquired. But there is also the fact that this book is from the same writer of “Eleanor & Park”, a much loved YA book (that I have yet to read, don’t judge!), that it has been reviewed and raved by the wonderful John Green.
This novel is a kind of coming of age story that many can relate to and it centers around Cath. Cath happens to be a complete fangirl of the Simon Snow books and movies series (some comparisons can be made with the Harry Potter series). But by fangirl, I mean she lives and breathes Simon Snow every second of her day. It is practically all she can think about and wants to be a part of. Such is her love for the series that she happens to be a well-known fanfiction writer among the fandom. The book focuses on her move to college, her twin sister’s (Wren), sudden want for independence, her social awkwardness, and her obsession with the Simon snow series affect her life, and how an unexpected love interest with Levi, who she thinks is her roommate’s (Reagan) boyfriend, helps her break out somewhat out of her shell and learn to trust again.
There were things about this book that I liked and dislikes, so I decided to list them.
What is your favorite fandom?
What I liked:
- The fandom- the fact that the Simon Snow series had similarities with the Harry Potter one, a series that I absolutely adored, was enough for me! I loved that how the fandom was represented was a reflection of how Harry Potter’s is still to this day. Also I really liked how they addressed the last book of a beloved series, the sadness that comes with its end.
- The fanfiction element- I absolutely loved how the author represented her made up fandom by making Cath a fanfiction writer. There was a time when I sat in front of a computer for hours late into the night, reading fanfiction from my favorite fandoms. Also the fact that I couldn’t go a day without checking if there were updates from the stories I loved so much that u started ti believe things from as cannon. Not only that, there was the excitement of finding out that one of my favorite fanfiction writers had a new story. I always had to start reading it immediately!By making Cath a fanfiction writer, I got back that feeling of excitement, when I read fanfiction, as I expect many readers did. But I gained respect for the fanfiction writers with their own following, who even though they may be having personal problems or are very busy, they still make time to please their readers, as Cath did in the book.
- The love story: Cath’s and Levi’s relationship was so sweet that it gave you cavities! There was a wonderful understanding between them that made one hope such a relationship. Levi’s patience, carefree nature, sunny disposition and love for Cath made him able to handle her social problems and trust issues helping her break a bit out the withdrawing norm she lived through. I believe that Levi has become one of the many fictional boyfriends that fervor readers have.
- Cath’s relationship with her father and her sister, Wren: I feel that Cath’s relationship with her father is one that any child should have with their parents. There was show of great concern, love and trust between them throughout the story, even though they had their own issues. It was a sweet and funny father-daughter relationship, but it was also filled with real life struggles, such as her father’s mental illness and her mother walking away from them, which I thought gave it more depth.Regarding Cath and Wren, I feel that it showed a real problem that twin siblings must face, especially identical twins. I think it was perfectly understandable that Wren wanted independence from her sister. After years of being compared to her sister, seen as a matched set, and having to do everything together, I see why she wanted to discover and establish her identity in a new setting. I did not like the way Wren followed through her search, by being dismissing and sometimes downright mean to Cath. After all, they are sisters and should back each other up and worry for one another.
- The last lines of the novel: These last lines were from her short story for her final project: “ Ready or not, here I come. Here I come, ready or not.” I mean, how meaningful these words are regarding the characters struggles and uphill climb to beat her problems. I just find them beautiful and extremely poignant with the story. And I am sure that I will be using them when faced with a daunting situation that makes me nervous.
What I disliked:
- Cath: I know she is the protagonist but I had my issues with her. It seemed at times that the only plot in the story was Cath’s inability to separate her day to day face to face human interactions and priorities from those with people online. And at the end of the novel, this wasn’t resolved! Cath didn’t seem to make any progress and if she did it, it was in a very slow pace. I didn’t like how she wasn’t open to improvement, but was content and fine with failing a class(after given a second chance to better her grade) just because she felt that her only abilities in writing were for already made up worlds, and she was comfortable living in her shell of a life. I mean, she was going to drop out of college because she couldn’t face Levi! Well she does make some progress, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted it to be in a bigger way.
- Her final project for her Fiction Writing class: Was I the only one who wanted to read it??! We just got the first lines and the lasts, but what about the content in between??! We also get that she passed the class given that she was given a big award for her short story. But I really would have preferred having her whole short story and having less Simon Snow snippets, being from the fanfictions or the books.
As a whole, I enjoyed the book giving it a 4 out of 5 stars. I found it to be quite fun and light hearted read. Even though I found myself having some issued with the story, I don’t think that it takes away from the message of the book as a whole. Thinking about it now, I think that maybe these issues surfaced because it has been quite a while since I have read a contemporary novel. But never the less this was a perfect novel to jump back into reading contemporary fiction!