Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Age Group: New Adult??
Source: Netgalley
Good Reads  |  Amazon
Rating: 4.75 out of 5
Release Date: September 10, 2013

Summary from GoodReads:

In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, 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? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


5 out of 5

4.75 out of 5

My Thoughts

Rainbow Rowell.  Rainbow Freakin’ Rowell!  Eleanor & Park is one of my favorite (perhaps my favorite) books of the year, and Attachments is way up there as well.  Obviously, I had pretty high expectations for Fangirl.  No, Fangirl isn’t another Eleanor & Park.  BUT it is nearly as wonderful!  It’s different, but you know what?  That’s a good thing.  I don’t want the same story over and over.  I want something new and surprising, and that’s what Fangirl was.  There is just something amazing the way Rowell tells a story.

The biggest draw, for me, about Rainbow Rowell’s books are the people she creates in her stories.  They’re so well-developed, and have so much personality, but they are so REAL, too.  That’s certainly the case in Fangirl.  I was able to connect with Cath, the protangonist, on so many levels, that at times, what she was feeling hit a little too close to home for me.

Cath is leaving home for the first time for college.  Added to that fear, her twin sister (and Cath’s best friend, really) has decided she doesn’t want to room with Cath.  Cath is heartbroken over this; that her twin doesn’t want to stay in the same room, even after sharing the same room all their lives.  But of course, it’s more than just Wren (Cath’s sister) wanting separate rooms, it’s that she wants to put some space between them.  Wren wants to do things without Cath.  And that’s what is really tearing Cath apart.  Cath is quiet and shy.  She’s a nerd, and she doesn’t open up to people easily.  So moving off to college, and knowing that Wren is wanting distance – it’s terrifying.

And I can’t even adequately describe how much I related to Cath.  This was actually a bit problematic for me, when I first began this book.  It was bringing forth emotions that I’m still trying to let go of, and drawing them to the forefront of my brain.  I think I ended up putting up a wall between Cath and myself at the beginning of the story, just because I didn’t want to connect so strongly with her.  I was reliving some parts of my life that I don’t ever want to relive.  But then, because Rainbow Rowell is just that amazing, I couldn’t help climbing that wall and connecting to Cath.  I just love Cath so much, you guys.  I love that even though she is insecure about who she is, she never tries to be anyone else.  She’s the quiet, shy one, who would rather write Simon Snow (think Harry Potter) fanfiction on a Friday night, than go to a party.

I feel like I could gush about Cath for another hour, but I’m going to rein myself in.  I have to talk about Wren, now.  Although I could understand Wren wanting her own room, at times I almost hated her.  She’s not a bad person at all, but I’ve been where Cath has been, and Wren was causing all this sadness for Cath, and I was just so mad at her.  But of course, things aren’t all that black and white.  The whole distance between Wren and Cath really made me think about the friend who hurt me so badly, but not in a terrible way.

And of course, I have to talk about Levi.  Levi, Levi, Levi . . . I’m not even sure what to say about him, except to say that I love him.  There’s something about the way Rowell writes. She writes these lines, sometimes dialogue, where I am practically swooning, but it’s not over the top.  It’s real.  Just Levi insisting on carrying Cath’s laundry basket of dirty clothes, and I about swooned.

There’s one more aspect that I just have to talk about.  Cath’s obssesion with Simon Snow.  Simon Snow is a lot like Harry Potter, there are seven books in the Simon Snow series, with the final one to be released very soon.  Cath writes Simon Snow fan fiction, something she began with Wren.  It was something they did together, something that connected them.  Wren has since given up writing fanfiction, but she has supported Cath.  And Cath is EXTREMELY popular in the Simon Snow fandom.  This aspect of the story was fascinating.  There’s this small scene towards the end of the book (it’s not a spoiler) where Cath goes to the midnight release party for the final Simon Snow book, and when she gets it, she starts crying.  And right there was another time when I could relate to Cath so much.  I went to the midnight release party for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and it will be an experience I will remember forever.  To be apart of such a huge phenomenon; a phenomenon around children’s books!  When I think of kids reading HP today, it makes me a little sad, because they will never be able to experience anything like that for themselves.  Or the likelyhood is pretty slim, anyway.  That small scene had me thinking about HP7 again!

Okay, so I’m going to stop gushing about this Fangirl now.  All I can say now is that with Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell has cemented her place on my Favorite Authors Plague.

About Quinn

I'm a twenty-something children's librarian at a public library in Central New York. I've long left my teen years behind me, but I love to read YA and children's books. I have two adorable dogs. Ginger is a mix between a poodle and havanese, and Daphne is Bichon Frise. Other things I love: Favorite Movie: Singing in the Rain Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Favorite TV Show: Monk
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10 Responses to Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

  1. HOLLY says:

    I’m so glad that everyone who’s read it seems to have enjoyed this book! I read E&P and absolutely loved it and I’ve got Attachments waiting on my TBR shelf as we speak… I can’t wait to read this one! 🙂

  2. I reviewed this one today too and I absolutely loved it. It’s top 2 in favorite books I’ve read so far this year and it makes me so happy that other people love it, too! I love your point about Rowell writing love interests that make me feel swoony without being over the top. I completely agree!

  3. I’m so happy to hear that this one is consistently well rated! I’m still wishing for Eleanor and Park, but this one will be right up there with it!

  4. Megan says:

    I seriously NEED this book. Every review I’ve read has been so positive and as a fangirl myself, I can totally see myself loving Cath as much as you did!

  5. Candice says:

    FANTASTIC review!!!! I’m so excited about reading this one – it may be my “stop and do nothing” book for the weekend! I love the concept of this one, the fact that it’s a little “older” than most YA I read but still has that awkward YA feel. I’ve only read E&P but that seriously was enough for me! Rainbow Rowell is one of my faves!

  6. I’m starting to get extremely curious about this author.. Everyone seems to adore her books lately. I tend to stay way from contemporary, but branching out now and then is fun. I might try this one! 🙂 Great review!


  7. I’m so excited for thiiiiiiiiiiiiis!! I still have to read Attachments, but Eleanor & Park became one of my all time favorite books! And Fangirl sounds like it’s going to be the book for me c: And Levi sounds dreamy!

  8. I loved your fangirling review of fangirl 😀 I want to read this one so bad! Why can’t it be September yet?

  9. I reading this right now and I’m jumping back and forth between enjoying it and hating some of the side characters. I relate to Cath on some levels as well, and it bothers me how some of the other people in the story ‘see’ her.

  10. Hannah says:

    I just can’t even read this review because I’m so desperate for Fangirl (at least it FINALLY comes out this Tuesday) that I know I’ll just be crazy knowing that something so good is almosttttttt within my reach. Just a few more days! *sigh*

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