Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Posted March 5, 2014 by LeahAdmin in Reviews / 6 Comments

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published by St. Martin's Press on Sep. 10, 2013
Pages: 438
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Cath and her twin sister, Wren, have always been close — which is why it’s such a shock when Wren tells Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates in college. When she arrives on campus on move-in day, shy, withdrawn Cath couldn’t be less pleased to meet her bold, unfriendly assigned roommate, Reagan — or Reagan’s relentlessly cheerful probably-boyfriend, Levi.

Although Cath is a social nobody in her external life, on the internet she’s kind of a star. Ever since they were children, she and Wren have been obsessed with the Simon Snow books, a wildly popular series about an orphaned wizard who goes away to a magical boarding school. (Sound familiar? Ha!) They take their fandom pretty seriously, writing fan fiction together. Wren, an outgoing social butterfly, grows away from the writing, but Cath makes a name for herself as one of the most popular writers in the fandom. And with the eight and final installation of the book about to come out, she’s determined to finish writing her alternate version of the story before the conclusive book’s release.

Distracting her from her writing, however, are the demands of classes, family drama, and the attentions of two boys: Levi and Nick, the cute boy from her English class with whom she meets for weekly library writing “dates.”

Having enjoyed Eleanor & Park on audiobook last year, I picked up Fangirl last week, hoping it would help me bust the reading slump that was bringing me down. I needed a change of pace from the literary fiction I usually read, and this book definitely helped!

This book isn’t perfect, but I really enjoyed it. It was especially fun to read about a girl who writes fan fiction of a book clearly inspired by my own favorite book series as a teen, Harry Potter. I also loved the way Rowell writes about the beginning of college: the nerves, the trepidation about an unknown roommate, classes full of students in very carefully planned outfits, confusion about boys… it all felt so familiar!

However, there were parts of Cath’s college experience that I didn’t quite buy. She basically refuses to leave her room, doesn’t know about the existence of her university’s second campus until halfway through the first semester, and can’t even figure out where the dining hall IN HER BUILDING is until her roommate takes pity on her many weeks in. Now, I was a shy introvert why I started college, too,  (and still am) but I could at least figure things out. Her lack of desire to TRY bothered me.

Aside from those things, I had a lot of fun with this book. I liked the fan fiction aspect, enjoyed the family drama — I wanted to give Cath, Wren, and their dad big hugs, their dad especially — and the love story. I haven’t read much romance that I enjoyed, but this one was pretty cute.

I would definitely recommend this book to readers of YA, college students, and lit fic readers looking for something a little different from their usual. I think I liked Eleanor & Park better,  but Fangirl was a great read about growing up and trying to navigate a new phase in life.

  • As an introvert also, and the no knowledge of the dining room and second campus does sound strange, especially as you could find out about it on your own. Otherwise this sounds pretty good. I loved Eleanor & Park so I’ve been looking into reading Rowell’s other books and so far this sounds the right one to opt for next.

    • Right?! I hope you enjoy it!

  • Wow, I’ve been reading great reviews of Rowell’s books for a while, but this is one of the first that’s really made me want to pick one up. I love that this is about the beginning of college and wish more new adult books were like this one 🙂

    • It was definitely a perspective I haven’t seen very often. I’m not an expert on YA by any means, but YA novels seem to usually to be set in high school. This was a nice change!

  • I still haven’t read Rowell’s other book but really need to get around to it because everyone raved about it. This one sounds like a good summer read.

    • Definitely a good summer read!