Good But Not Great: Fangirl By Rainbow Rowell Review

Good But Not Great: Fangirl By Rainbow Rowell ReviewFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on September 10th 2013
Pages: 433

A coming-of-age tale of fanfiction, family and first loveCATH 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 fanfiction, 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 that 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 fanfiction 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 aloneFor 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?


{ Fangirl Review } 

Fangirl. Rainbow Rowell. One of the most hyped books of 2013, and was it worth it? Worth the read? Definitely yes. Worth all the hype? Probably not. Fangirl is the story of Cath who’s moving away from home and going to college with her twin sister Wren. Cath and Wren (Catherine, geddit?) have been inseparable since birth, sharing a room and doing absolutely everything together. Where Wren goes – Cath goes. They’ve always been a package deal, but that’s all about to change. Although they’re off to the same college, Wren decided it was time to spend some time apart and is sharing a room with a complete stranger, forcing Cath to do the same. Cath is a massive nerd. She loves Simon Snow (ahem, Harry Potter), and spent most of her high school years writing fan fiction under the name ‘Magicath’. Being at college doesn’t change that and Cath refuses to let go of her Simon Snow obsession. Wren has always been the sociable twin, with Cath preferring to curl up in her bedroom reading books and writing fanfic but whilst she desperately tries to resist growing up at college, of course, a boy comes along to change that. Fangirl is the story of Cath growing up and settling into her first year of college – navigating new friends, new relationships and a new environment.

Cath is probably a pretty accurate description of most people reading Fangirl (or at least what fangirls claim to be like). She’d rather be alone in her room, reading a good book, than making out with guys and getting drunk at frat parties. She likes having her own personal space and doesn’t like it when people she’s not familiar with encroach on it, so having a stranger as a roommate in college is an issue for her. Cath evidently suffers from social anxiety and the description of this seems pretty spot on and gives a great insight into the minds of those that we perceive to be ‘anti-social’. The problem with this is that it really slowed the plot down and not a lot happened for the first part of the book. I found it really hard to get into because there weren’t really any major developments and I was expecting this to be a ‘plot’ book. This book really is all about Cath and as a coming of age drama, I think this book has hit the nail on the head. I’m sure many readers will be able to relate to Cath which is why this book is so popular, but unfortunately I just couldn’t get over the slow pace and Cath’s character development wasn’t enough for me.


At the beginning of each chapter you find a short except from Simon Snow (Harry Potter), which make for a really nice read, though ultimately they don’t add anything to the plot. Now that we know Rainbow Rowell is planning on releasing a Simon Snow novel, I guess these little snippets have helped to generate some hype, but I felt like they were a little out of place. They are interesting, but not relevant to the story. I thought that these snippets were to help the reader understand Cath but unfortunately, I didn’t get that from them.

Of course, there is some romance in Fangirl, but this (surprisingly) isn’t the main event. It was nice to read a young adult novel in which the young girl’s sole was not to find a boyfriend and have her first kiss. Of course, lots of these exist, but there are many more that don’t. Cath is trying to figure out everything in Fangirl, boys is just one of the things on a long list of developments and whilst the relationship between Levi and Cath is adorable, it’s more about how Cath develops as a result of this.

Friendship is an equally large theme in this story as Cath is almost as completely new to making friends as she is to talking to boys. Cath’s relationship with her roommate is a funny one, but it felt genuine. I find stories in which two girl roommates immediately become best friends incredibly annoying and unrealistic. I had a roommate last year, someone who I was already friends with, and I still found the first two weeks of living with him incredibly difficult and weird. The relationship between Cath and Reagan, her roommate, develops slowly and to be honest you’re never really sure whether they’re going to become best friends or enemies. Reagan really helps Cath come out of her shell and their relationship demonstrates the power of true friends.

All in all, Fangirl was a great read, but the internet prepared me for an incredible read and unfortunately, that’s not what I found. It is undoubtedly a great read for those who are currently going through change as themes such as moving away from home, trying to navigate college, making new friends etc. are discussed. I think it was the slow pace that really brought this book down in my opinion, but for others that might not be a problem. There were some bits that I really enjoyed and sped through, but there were also a lot of passages in which I felt myself becoming disinterested. This book is really about character development, rather than plot development and evidently at the time of reading this, I was looking for something a bit more exciting. This book fell short of my expectations, but I can certainly see why so many other people were such big fans of it. I’d highly recommend Fangirl to young girls who are still at an age where they’re trying to find themselves and figure out who they are and, of course, to fangirls.
Think you like the sound of Fangirl? Check out my reviews of other Rainbow Rowell titles:

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