Author: Rainbow Rowell | Pages: 438 | Series: Standalone/NA | Rating: 4.5-5/5 stars
What to say about this book? I went into Fangirl with the understanding that almost everyone I know who’s read it has loved it. That alone made me put off reading this book numerous times. Why? I find that usually, if I read a hugely hyped book, I come out disappointed. Occasionally this is because I didn’t like the book, but more often than not, I just go into it expecting too much. There have been a lot of incredibly popular books that I’ve read and greatly enjoyed – but just didn’t live up to my similarly hyped expectations.
In the case of Fangirl, I needn’t have worried.
The story follows Cath, a college freshman whose first love is writing – especially Simon Snow fanfiction. She and her twin sister, Wren, have been inseparable since birth, but when Wren decides that she doesn’t want to be roommates with Cath in college, things are forced to change.
Honestly, I really loved Cath. For someone who’s quieter, introverted, better with people over the computer than in real life, and who struggles with a lot of social anxiety… I could relate to her almost scarily well. I found myself thinking numerous times how familiar her feelings and the situations she found herself in were. From not wanting to ask for directions to the dining hall for fear of sounding stupid, to immersing herself in fictional worlds to escape, to hiding out in a bathroom stall rather than sit by herself in the dining hall… I could relate to it all.
As for the other characters… I liked the diversity. They all had their own quirks and their own lives, their own faults. In some books the characters can feel temporary, that they only exist when the story is focusing on them or when the main character is around. I never felt that way with any of Fangirl’s characters. They all felt like they had somewhere to be, something they were doing whenever they weren’t around, and I liked that. Each of them felt like they had their own little story to tell.
One of the things a number of people complain about, if they complain at all, is the plot. I’ll admit – the plot kind of meanders. There aren’t any huge plot twists. Nothing huge happens. But strangely (this would bother me in a lot of books), this doesn’t bother me here. Perhaps it’s because I do relate to Cath so much, I don’t know. I do know that sometimes, reading contemporaries, I’m struck by how for each of these main characters, there is that one defining, life-changing moment. But usually, life isn’t like that. Yes, people are thrown curve-balls occasionally. Most of the time, though, life isn’t one big moment – it’s a bunch of little moments that all add up. Not everybody lives exciting, party-filled lives. It was a coming-of-age story, one of self-discovery, and so for Cath, I felt like the story fit nicely. It was her story, not Wren’s. Plenty happened, there just wasn’t that big bang that a lot of people look for.
The one thing I would ask for in terms of the story itself… I did like the way it ended, but I also kind of wished there had been more of an epilogue. It might have been nice to meet Levi’s family, or find out how they handled the summer across the state from each other. But all in all, I felt it ended nicely.
As for the Simon Snow side story… I was actually kind of wishing the books were real by the time the book was over. And the whole Simon/Baz thing? Rowell could at least type up some of that fanfiction for us in full, right? Is it actually possible to ship fictionally fictional characters?