Review of FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell
FACTS ABOUT THE BOOK
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Freshman Year, First Love, Family Drama, Fanfiction
BACK OF THE BOOK
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
This book follows Cath, an 18-years-old fangirl, through her first year at university. Cath is shy, introverted and a fangirl. She spends most of her time writing fanfiction. When Cath's twinsister Wren decides not to move in with Cath at university, Cath is faced with dealing with a new person as a roommate, after spending her room with her twin for her whole life. Her roommate and her roommate's boyfriend shake up Cath's whole life and Cath finds herself in situations that she's only ever wrote about before. The book contains a lot of excerpts of Cath's fanfiction.
MY OPINION ON THE BOOK
What I loved about it
What I loved most about it, was how quick and easy it was to read. I started this book three days ago, and read 150 pages in one sitting. I just couldn't and didn't want to stop reading it. This book made reading feel like the most amazing and addictive activity in the world. I had so much fun reading it. I wish there were more books that read themselves like that. I basically grabbed the book, stuck my nose into it and couldn't get it out of it until another 150 pages were over. And reading those 150 pages always felt like reading about 50 pages.
I could identify so much with the main character, Cath. She is probably the most relatable character I've ever read about. I could relate so much to her awkardness, overthinking and introvertion, I couldn't believe it. For example, when Cath takes forever to manage to ask anyone to show her where the dining room is and then accepts it after a while, because then it would be too awkward to admit that she doesn't know where it is. I could so relate to that because I hadn't eaten in my university canteen until this 4th semester, just because I felt weird to ask anybody after such a while of not asking anyone.
I love that Cath studies English, like me. Therefore I was extremely interested in both her general interests and her university courses. I always fall for books that are about loving literature, and the love for books takes up a huge part in FANGIRL. I was genuinely interested in almost everything that Cath's life consisted of. I found it very thrilling to dive deeper into both her passion for writing fanfiction and her struggling with her university courses.
I also adored how these two aspects collided and the conversations that that brought up. Generally, the dialogues in this book were incredibly thought out, well written, and interesting. I really enjoyed them and they made me think more about my own attitude to fanfiction and fiction writing.
Although I was never really interested in reading fanfiction, I wrote my own fanfiction, without calling it that, for a long time. So I connected halfway with Cath's passion for it.
But I related incredibly much to her shipping habits.. As you may know, I always fall hard for gay ships. And unfortunately, mostly for non-canon gay ships. (non-canon means that they aren't said to be in love with each other in the original) That's why I absolutely adored Cath shipping her non-canon gay ship and her writing fanfiction about it.
When I told my mum what this book was about, she asked me whether I had written it myself. (That basically sums it all up, doesn't it?)
It's no secret that this book is very loved and hyped, which is why my expectations for it were very high. And it still managed to excite me even more than I hoped it would.
I've grown to be quite sceptical of lovestories, which is why I wasn't that happy when FANGIRL started developing into one. But it is very hard not to like the male character that Cath falls for. And I also really enjoyed, that Cath didn't see him as "the absolute perfect and best looking boy ever" but instead actually mentioned his flaws and stressed his beautiful character. The development of their connection felt very slow by taking small steps and talking a lot about each others' feelings, which I found very very important and nice. It made it quite hard for me to found negative points in the relationship.
What I didn't love about it
After each chapter, there's an excerpt of either "the original" or Cath's fanficton of the Simon Snow stories. Simon Snow is a made-up story by Rainbow Rowell, but treated as a real book series in FANGIRL. It has about a million similarities to Harry Potter and obviously stands for Harry Potter. But before I googled "Simon Snow" I actually started questioning whether it was a real book series, which weirded me out. I would have liked it way better if the author had used Harry Potter instead of Simon Snow, but I understand that it would probably have been too problematic with the copyright. So I was always torn between being able to really relate to Cath's obsession with Simon Snow, because it reminded me so much of mine with Harry Potter, and between not really knowing what to think of that Simon Snow story.
It sometimes confused me that this book was written in the 3rd person narrative, because it felt so much like it was told from the 1st person narrator, because Cath was so obviously the main character. So after reading a lot about what was going on in her head, it felt weird to suddenly realise that it wasn't actually written in 1st person narrative. That weirded me out a couple of times throughout the book.
I was never quite sure, whether I liked the excerpts of Simon & Baz stories between the chapters or not. That's also why I'm really not sure whether I should read CARRY ON or not. (Carry On is the published fanfiction that Cath wrote in FANGIRL and can be bought as a normal book.)
I definitely enjoyed the actual story in FANGIRL way better than the fanfiction in it. I prefered both the writing style and the plot of it. My mind always slightly drifted off whenever I read the Simon Snow parts and I always couldn't wait to go back to Cath's actual story. Which absolutely doesn't mean that I liked her outgoing self more than her fanfiction writing one. I loved to read about everything that she did, I just had some problems with getting into her actual fanfiction work.
I couldn't stop reading this book and if I hadn't needed to sleep, eat and go on the toilet, I would have read it all in one sitting. It is actually such a light story but because the main character is that relatable, it gets much more depth. This book definitely made reading the best and most addicting thing ever; I always wanted to read on, although the plot isn't actually that thrilling or filled with tension. I just enjoyed reading it so much and I also loved the way that reading felt with that book. I definitely want to read more books by Rainbow Rowell now - and in general more books that make reading feel like the best thing in the world, like this one did. I would a 100% recommend this book to everyone who is also a fangirl at heart; and especially also to those who normally don't read that much, because this book can show them how amazing and fun reading can be.
Why not 5 out of 5 stars?
The book started off as a clear 5/5 stars book to me, but as the lovestory started to develop, I felt like it lost a bit of its potential. I adored the way that reading felt with that book, but sometimes I didn't adore what I actually read. There could have been a lot less Simon Snow fanfiction excerpts in it, for instance. And the ending could also have been a bit more settled, in my opinion.