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?
Rainbow Rowell is an intimidating author, and recently, she has dominated the world of geeky, nerdy, awkward first love. After having Fangirl on the shelf for ages, I finally decided to pick it up and read it. I had read Eleanor and Park and Attachments. The bar was set high, and Rowell did not meet it.
I have to say, the beginning did not disappoint. It lay down the setting. It introduced the characters. It set the genre, the style, the theme. It was interesting, and quirky. So much was covered in those first few pages, so much necessary information.
The biggest trouble I had with Fangirl was how long the plot took to get moving. When I review books, I try to include the five most important parts of a book: plot, theme, setting, characters and conflict.
The theme? It wasn’t obvious, but it was there once you scraped past the words, and it was a good one as well. Fangirl is about Cath’s struggle to find who she is without her twin sister, and finding out where she belongs in the big, scary place called College. So it’s a book about identity and belonging. Deep. Well done, Rowell. Tick for theme.
Setting? It was done very well. In fact, perhaps the best part of the book, speaking in terms of the actual technical writing. The whole “College” concept was placed well, and the distance (like, the physical distance) between College, and Cath and Wren’s home, was reiterated frequently. The vastness of College and the intimidating, daunting feeling of the buildings definitely came across well.
Let’s go to the characters. As expected, also another part that Rowell has done well. I think, for myself, personally, when I think of Rowell, and I think of her stories, I think of how well her characters leap to life. How realistic they feel, how they jump off the page. I feel like Cath and Wren, and Eleanor and Park could very well be my friends, from their universe inside the paper.
I guess the conflict was done well. There was just enough of it to stir things up a bit, but not really enough to make it page turning. I guess that’s understandable though, because in a novel like Fangirl, you can’t expect conflict every bit of the way through, otherwise it would lose the iconic “Rainbow Rowell” laid-back love story feel. So yes, Rowell has also scored higher than average here.
Now I come to the plot. The plot was the biggest problem I had with Fangirl. It was just so frustratingly slow, and I found that all throughout the book, unnecessary information was just being shoved down the reader’s throat, as if Rowell was stalling for time. The book reached a little under 500 pages, which I felt was just so unnecessary for the kind of story that Rowell was trying to narrate. About 2/3 of the way through, I just got so bored, I almost felt like putting the book down and starting another. To tell you the truth, not much actually happens in Fangirl:
Girl finds Boy. Girl loves Boy. Girl leaves Twin. Girl finds Twin. Mother leaves Girl. Mother returns to Girl. Girl doesn’t have friends. Girl has friends. Girl writes Fan Fiction. Girl still writes Fan Fiction.
There. That was basically the whole plot of Fangirl summed up. It was just so frustratingly slow to develop and I just got bored.
All throughout Fangirl, Rowell has sprinkled her trademark sarcastic wit, which will make the reader laugh, or smile at least. In between the chapters, there are mostly excerpts of “Simon Snow”, the story of Rowell’s universe, and these actually do a lot to add difference to the book, and make it a lot more interesting. Sometimes, there was a bit of unnecessary back story in between dialogue, but I didn’t see it too much.
In conclusion, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl was a satisfying read with a few hits and a few misses. The writing style is nice, the story is funny, the setting and theme are done nicely, and the characters are relatable. However, the plot takes a while to get rolling, and there’s heaps of unnecessary scenes, making the book much longer than it needs to be.
Fangirl is out now. Buy at your local bookstore.
- Title: Fangirl
- Author: Rainbow Rowell
- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin; First Edition edition (September 10, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250030951
- URL: MacMillan Website