Saturday 21 December 2013

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Publication date: September 10th, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | Infibeam (India)
Stars: 4.5/5
Source: Bought
From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

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?


Okay, so. This book!

I don't even know where to start with it. I don't know whether to gush about it incessantly... that would come naturally because I am definitely containing myself from gushing along various incoherent tangents right now... or I could collect my thoughts and write something that resembles coherence.

But. Really. Fangirl demands squealing. *points to the title* It embodies awesomeness in a way that's inarticulate, gushworthy and epic.

It's about Cather, this girl, who's a devout Harry Po Simon Snow fan. Like in a my-life-depends-on-it-and-it-sucks-that-I-can't-attend-Hogwarts-Watford-School-for-Magicks way. She writes Simon Snow fanfiction... really good slash fan fiction that's read by millions of fans over the world. And yeah, she's going to a college a few hours away with her twin Wren, who does not want to be roommates because they "need to meet other people".

Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision.

What follows is a girl-meets-roommate's-"boyfriend", girl-writes-a-story-that's-not-fan-fiction and girl-sorts-out-family-stuff plot in a way that's most layered, complex and non-cliched. It reads like your favourite fantasy novel minus the fantasy with the warmth and once-upon-a-time-storybook-like comfort it brings. It begs you to highlight almost every line and scream "ME TOO!" because if you picked up this book, you are a fangirl in some way, aren't you? Rowell does a brilliant job integrating Simon Snow snippets as well, which makes you truly feel the way you felt when you were hooked on to something... when it began, when it was happening and when it ended and then never truly ended! 

Rowell also gives us a way more holistic picture of college than most books of this genre do. She does not forget the roommate, the initial cluelessness/social awkwardness and the people you leave behind. What more, she gives us LEVI, who shaped up to be perfect... not Gary Sue perfect, but quirky perfect! There were passages about him that made me smile so much and others that had me swoony and teary eyed. He's so good natured and charming, there's this part where Cath describes his face as the "smilingest" and it does not sound wrong at all!

While it's not without occasional lapses in momentum, Fangirl is what Rainbow Rowell's Attachments was to romcom novels and the Y2K era and what Eleanor & Park was to coming-of-age: a pretty darn amazing addition to its genre! It's wholesome in its depiction of college life (whether it's Cath's or Wren's side of the coin) with sensitively etched out characters and if you've ever geeked out about something or read/written fan fiction, pays rightful homage to that phase!

“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”


"Okay." She turned around and unlocked the door. "You can come in. I'm not sure yet about all the other stuff."

"Okay," Levi said. She heard the very beginning of a smile in his voice -a fetal smile- and it very nearly killed her.

-Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell

Rating: ★★★★1/2


  1. I am looking forward to reading this soon. I also have Attachments. Just need to find more hours in my day, I guess. :)

  2. You know I love that you love this, right? :D

  3. I REALLY want to read this one. I'm definitely a fangirl of things, especially Harry Potter, so I think I could relate to a lot of this!!

  4. Your enthusiasm jumps right off the screen and is making me feel like I'm missing out big time! I've heard so many delightful things about Fangirl and I just can't wait to discover it's awesome-ness for myself. I'm interesting in seeing how the author deals with Cath's awkwardness, insecurities etc.... it makes her sound so real!

    Great review - so glad you enjoyed it :)


HI. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment. :)