Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published 2013 by Pan Macmillan.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: Borrowed from a library.

Genre: YA/NA contemporary.

My rating:

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’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a 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 …

srcekAhh this book! I haven’t written a review in more than three weeks and here I am, 20 minutes after finishing Fangirl, typing away, eager to share with you just how much I liked this story.

Here’s what happened 5 minutes after I read it:

fangirl-tweet

I rarely resort to visual aids when writing reviews but this sums up my feelings quite accurately.

But don’t get confused, now, this book isn’t anything like your usual fluff. It’s not a romance (though there’s kissing involved) and it’s hard sometimes and it made my chest hurt. But in the best way possible. I may have teared up a little, too.

I went into Fangirl without reading any reviews, I just knew it was about a girl who wrote fan fic and people loved it and I was afraid it was going to be one of those hyped-up books that people adore and gush about and I sometimes end up expecting the impossible and the books disappoint me. But it wasn’t! YAY! (I’m usually much more coherent. And now I keep mystyping words Levi-style.)

Anyway, Cath (short for Cather) is a fan fiction writer and a girl very reluctant to start college. She’s only going because her twin sister (Wren) is going and though Wren doesn’t want to be her roommate (they’d always shared a room), Cath can’t stand not going where she goes. That’s about all you need to know about this book’s plot. Anything else and we’re in spoiler territory, I think, and I hate spoilers.

I really, really appreciated the characters of this story. Cath is perfect (by which I mean I loved her) – only she’s not, she has bad anxiety problems, worries too much and lives in a fictional world most of the time. She has trust issues and is extremely introverted and I loved how Rowell managed to convey this horrible feeling of being thrust into an unknown situation that absolutely terrified Cath. I could feel my heart breaking for her but I also admired her, even if she had her ups and downs and wanted to spend all her days holed up in her room, eating peanut butter.

Reagan, Cath’s unwilling roommate, ended up being my favourite character. Somehow. I just think that friends like that are hard to come by and that people who do have one of them should really just hug them and never let go (even if Reagan might have punched Cath if she ever tried to hug her).

And there’s Levi. Oh, Levi. (By the way, how do you pronounce his name? Leave-ee? Leave-ay? In Slovenian, “levi” means “the left one” or “lions”, depending on how you pronounce the “e”.) He’s… ugh, words are actually failing me at this point. I knew a guy like him – he was a passing acquaintance, really, I never got to know him – a guy who’s friendly with everyone and shares his happiness with the world, and you could fall for him but know you shouldn’t because you’re just one of the many people he’s making feel like they’re special (I like that Levi isn’t perfectly perfect!). I want to say he’s “happy-go-lucky” but that’s not right, either. He’s elusive, Levi, and just about the best love interest I’ve read about in a long time. I feel like I should add him to my post about good guys!

We also have to talk about Wren, the courageous twin, who’s more messed up than she’s willing to let anyone believe. She annoyed me so much for most of the novel but I get why she’s like that. Ohh, I love reading about unloveable characters who actually deserve to be loved. How does Rowell pull this off? It’s like she’s magic with character psychology.

Oh and if you’re up for a debate on fan fiction, I’d love to discuss how wonderful the Simon Snow inserts were here and the whole commentary on fan fiction writing. Did you know that Carry On (that’s what Cath is writing in Fangirl) is being published this year?

So go read Fangirl if you haven’t alreadyYES, really, even if you don’t normally read YA contemporaries. Get out of your comfort zone and give it a try. And then if you’re as impressed with it as I was, go for Eleanor and Park, which was kind of amazing, too.

srcek

Have you read Fangirl? Or anything else by Rainbow Rowell? 

Are you an introvert? How do you cope with uncomfortable situations? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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  • I haven’t read Fangirl, but Maraia has been convincing me to read it :D. I would also like confetti and glitter thrown on me, please. I’m excited that Cath is an introvert. Because to answer your second question, I am a huge introvert. How do I cope with uncomfortable situations? I avoid them and remain a hermit in my house. LOL

    • Ahh, this might just be the book for you! :) Cath is all about denial and staying away from potentially difficult social situations. I’m not saying you’ll “find a solution to your problem” or whatever, that’s not what books are for, but you might empathize with Cath. I hope you’ll give it a try, it really is a nice book.

  • Greg Hill

    You know, Regan was my favorite character – I liked that scene where Cath confronts the guy who was messing with her (don’t remember the exact details) and she backe her up. She was such an opposite to cath, the hard partyer but she liked Cath underneath the tough exterior. They had a cool relationship.

    I liked this book, it was sweet and cath was definitely relatable.

    • YES, that’s it exactly. I liked Reagan’s no-nonsense attitude which was mixed with tough love and genuine care. I miss more girl friendships in books and this one was great.

      And yep, I sometimes have Cath-like moments, too, when I want to just stay inside and crawl into my bed and not deal with the world.

  • Jolien @ The Fictional Reader

    I really liked Fangirl too! And I’m SO excited to read Carry On. I know many people didn’t like the fanfiction part of Fangirl but I quite enjoyed it. Many people said that it was too much like Harry Potter and they didn’t like it but I just never compared it. So I can’t wait to read Carry On.

    Great review!

    • I know, I spoke with a friend who said the fanfic dragged for her but I really liked those parts! I’m very curious about Simon and Baz :) OF COURSE it was like Harry Potter, what other series has such a fanbase in 21st century? :D But that’s the whole point! But I’m sure that Carry On will be a great story and something completely unique.

  • It is a lot of fun, isn’t it? Loved Cath’s anxiety and her ways round it, especially. There’s something about Rowell’s writing style that just feels… warm.

    • Yes, that’s it! :) Warm. It’s like being hugged by a book, reading Rowell. She deals with difficult issues (both here and in Eleanor & Park which are so far the only books I’ve read) but makes them lighter – without trivializing them.

  • I’m so glad to hear that you loved this one. I loved Fangirl so much too. Cath is probably the character that is most like me that I have ever read.

    • Really? :) It’s nice to be able to empathize and relate! I’m not like her, but that didn’t lessen my enjoyment in the slightest, I just really loved both Cath and the whole story. I mostly just wanted to hug Cath.

  • Maraia

    I think you already know my answers to all these questions. :D (I like Sarah’s answer to how she copes with uncomfortable situations. Sounds about right to me.)

    I’m so happy this wasn’t a letdown for you. I know it’s always scary with such overly-hyped books, but this is one of the rare cases where the real thing isn’t disappointing (Simon vs. being the other one in my case).

    • Is Simon good? I’ve seen so many rave reviews … Is that the one with Oreo cookies?

      And YES, hyped-up books are scary. Daughter of the Forest is a case in point! But it’s pulling me in, that book, and I like it very much so far (I’m about 90 pages in, I only started yesterday).

      I’m not that much of an introvert though I do prefer solitude and reading to company sometimes (often, really). I am really glad A. is the same. But not being *like* Cath didn’t lessen my enjoyment of the book, I just wanted to hug her most of the time ;)

      • Maraia

        It’s SO GOOD. It was insanely hyped and I was nervous to start it, but I actually loved it even more than I was expecting. My reaction to reading it was similar to yours after reading Fangirl.

        I’m glad you finally started Daughter of the Forest. I hope the hype doesn’t ruin it at all. I’m really glad I read it so long ago that no one had heard about it and I had no expectations.

        Haha, yeah, I’m not that extreme, either. The cafeteria was actually one of my favorite parts of college. Man, I miss that. But I will say that I can relate to Cath somewhat more now than I did when I was her age.

  • Even though like you, I don’t normally go for YA-Contemporary, I LOVED Fangirl! It just worked for me on so many levels: the introverted protagonist obsessed with a magical book series, the fanfiction, the feels, the family dynamics…EVERYTHING. I didn’t have the same luck with Eleanor & Park though, but all the same I am PUMPED for Carry On :D I’m really happy you loved this so much too Kaja^^ Awesome review! ♥

    • Thanks, Micheline! :) I’m always glad if venturing outside my favourite genres pays off – and it definitely did with Fangirl. Woo, I can’t wait for Simon and Baz to start their adventure. And yes, the FEELS! Especially after Cath was SO reluctant to open up to Levi and then he was an ass and kissed that other girl and my heart BROKE for Cath and I could just feel how she pulled back into herself and closed up her walls. Ahh. That’s great writing, really.

  • Urgh, I LOVED Fangirl so much. It’s replaced Harry Potter as my go-to comfort read! I agree with your review – for me, Fangirl is basically perfect. It’s such a happy, uncomplicated novel about self-discovery and finding your way, and it makes me feel like I can conquer the world!
    And OHMYGOD so excited for Carry On! I’ve pre-ordered my copy already, and I NEVER do that!
    Beth x
    http://www.thequietpeople.com

    • Haha yes! I definitely plan on re-reading it and I have to order my own copy because I got this one from the library and I need to buy this book. I don’t often do that, buy a book when I’ve already read it in some way.

      And I have to pre-order Carry On, too. It’ll be my reward for finishing up this job I’m working on. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Simon and Baz.

  • I was really caught off guard by how much I loved Fangirl. It’s not the type of book I usually pick up, but nearly everyone who read Rainbow Rowell raved about her work.

    The characters in this book were amazing. Every single one of them were vivid, and they came alive in the story. Of course I loved Cath because there was so much of myself in this character. The anxiety, the introvertedness, the nerdiness. It was the first time in all of my years of reading that I felt like I could related to a character. Levi was awesome too! I’ve read too many books where the female protagonist picks the brooding young man, and I never could understand why. But Levi! He’s such a dream with his farmer’s tan and receding hairline. He’s just a normal, stand-up fellow, and I appreciated that Rainbow Rowell chose him to be the love interest.

    The only downfall of this book for me was the fan fiction. The parts where Cath read her work to Levi…I ended up skipping that. There was too much of it for my personal taste, and instead of adding depth to the story, it sort of took me out of the story.

    • Haha, one of my friends had the same problem with fan fiction parts – she said they dragged. But I really liked them, and I can’t wait to read more about Simon and Baz in Carry On. I wonder how that book will turn out.

      Oh man I was so happy Cath and Levi ended up together. He’s just SO GOOD. And yes, that farmer charm :D I really like nice guys as love interests, too, and I was also ridiculously glad when that Nick guy (the writer) proved to be a non-issue in terms of romance so there wasn’t a love triangle or anything. And I loved how slowly Cath let Levi back into her life and how he STUCK AROUND because he liked her so much. Ahh. <3

  • Yes! I adored this book and stayed up an entire night (until 4 am) reading it. I was grinning like an absolute fool. And there’s a scene where Cath is eating in the bathroom, and I ahhh, stahp. I could write fanfic about Fangirl. I loved the characters to pieces and did not want it to end.

    Oh, and it would be pronounced leave-ay, with ay being said like eye. I hope that makes sense.

    I can’t wait for Carry On, I already have it on pre-order. I want to re-read Fangirl before I get it, but currently my copy is out making the rounds. I just had to share it with everyone I know.

  • Benish

    Aaahh, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this novel but I really liked Regan’s character though. The friendship between the girls seemed genuine and much different than the girl on girl hate I usually see. Lovely review overall <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

  • I saw you reviewed this and I keep putting off reading it (I complain no one comments on reviews but I’m just as bad for it on other people’s blogs) because I love this book and I’m always wary about hearing others thoughts. I cannot take much criticism on books I love, so I’m glad you liked it too. I instantly connected with the character of Cath, I may not be as introverted as her, but I was pretty shy starting uni. I still am, but I’ve improved in actually talking to people. Social situations with a lot of new people still fill me with terror. I think it was the fact Cath wrote fanfic that did it for me with this book. It was like she was an actual person I would be friends with!

    I think I loved this book because it may be a YA contemporary, but it has so much more depth than that. Too often this genre tends to be filled with light fluffy books, but this wasn’t one of them. It had depth and the characters had issues and were real and I loved every second of it! I need to reread this book, it has been too long.

  • I still have to pick up this book, especially with Carry On coming out so soon! I want to be covered in confetti and glitters of emotion as well. I actually have not read anything by Rainbow Rowell, I feel SO ALONE haha.

    I guess I am an introvert, though in my profession you have to pretend to be an extrovert, so I got good at pretending :D?