From the author the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
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?
Four and a half stars: A charming, romantic, coming of age story.
Cath nervously unpacks her room. It is her freshman year at college and she is hurt that her twin sister, Wren, refused to room with her. They have shared a room for eighteen years after all. It feels like a part of her is missing. Wren is busy with her new roommate and college life, and she rarely has time for Cath. Thankfully, Cath still has Baz and Simon. The fictional characters whom she has nurtured and loved for years. In fact, Cath likes them so much that she spends hours and hours writing her own version of their story on fanfiction websites. Cath hopes to one day be a writer. As Cath struggles to cope with the pressures of college, she begins to open up and she makes a few friends. What she doesn't expect is to lose her heart.
What I Liked:
- It is so refreshing to pick up a book that steals your heart, and that is what happened with Fangirl. This is a coming of age story that follows a young girl who has a few odd quirks, and she is a bit manic and neurotic. Cath is overly shy and she is terrified of making new friends. Slowly, though, she unfurls and she ends up making friends with her roommate and her supposed boyfriend. What follows is a remarkable journey of self discovery. There are plenty of bumps and bruises along the way, but once Cath gets to the end of her first year of school, her transformation is quite impressive. I loved monitoring her growth and watching her transform. Ms. Rowell certainly knows how to write amazing characters, and it wasn't long before I was completely invested in their lives. I liked Cath and all of her eccentricities, Reagan the brusque roommate is hilarious, especially with her commentary in the cafeteria, and finally, Levi, the boy who will steal your heart and make you melt. He is charming, well mannered and just plain adorable. I closed this book remiss to say goodbye.
- The romance is just perfect. It creeps up on you slow and unexpectedly. In fact, it is a bit of a surprise as I thought that Cath might end up with another, but when the romantic lead wriggles in and reveals his true character, I was hopelessly lost. I loved how kind and patient he was, how caring and how he never pushed too hard. He loved Cath for who she was and never laughed at her insecurities or made fun of her fangirling over Simon Snow. He is polite, and he has a smile for everyone. Can I just say, I would have dated this guy in a heartbeat! The romance is wonderful, it builds slow and steady after it starts out as a friendship, and by the end it is tender and sweet and just right. No insta love, love triangles or heavy drama that makes you want to pull your hair out. This is the perfect pick me up romance.
- I loved following all the characters and watching them suffer through all the anxieties of the first year of college. It seems like only yesterday I was going to college and I could relate to many of the feelings that Cath experienced. I thought Ms. Rowell did a fantastic job of capturing the college experience. I felt nostalgic for my college days while reading this one.
- This is a tremendous stand alone book that chronicles all the ups and downs of a first year of college. The stress, adjustments, temptations, and romances. The transformation of the characters is remarkable, and I completely enjoyed watching them grow. I loved that this was a stand alone, but yet, I was sad because I wanted more. I only hope that one day down the road, Ms. Rowell will consider catching up with Cath, Levi, Wren, Jander and Reagan.
And The So Much:
- I struggled with Wren. I couldn't understand why she abandoned her twin sister with whom she had always had a solid and close relationship. Once the sisters get to college, Wren wants to have nothing to do with Cath. She is caught up in drinking and partying. I wished desperately that there was more insight into Wren's character because I really wanted to know why she behaved the way she did. Was it because of the damage in their past? Was she tired of always being seen as part of the twin duo? I strongly disliked Wren up until the final chapters. I was then grateful to see that she did a turn around. I would very much like more insight into her character.
- As much as I enjoyed Cath, she can be a bit frustrating. She wasn't a character I could easily relate to because she has so many issues. I couldn't imagine hiding in my room and eating peanut butter and energy bars because I was afraid to go to the cafeteria. I hated the way she walked out on her dream of writing just because her professor disagreed with her thoughts on fanfiction. However, I grew close to her and learned to accept her strange behavior. Once I quit focusing on connecting with her, I enjoyed the journey, and I was pleased to see how she ended up.
- The ending was open. I desperately wanted an Epilogue, or better yet for the story to keep going. But it is like real life, since none of us know what the future holds. The story pauses as things have settled out and everyone is in a good place. I just wished that I could see Cath and the gang down the road. I was especially disappointed that after all the buildup regarding Cath's original story that there is only a tiny peek at the end. I wanted to read more of the that story.
- This book is littered with all kinds of snippets from the Simon Snow stories, which as far as I gathered, are Ms. Rowell's version of a Harry Potter series. There are pages form the original stories and Cath's writing as well. In all honesty, I didn't really like the inclusions of the Simon and Baz stories because they were always short excerpts that really didn't go anywhere. I actually started skipping over them toward the end since I found they really didn't enhance the story line. I got how obsessed Cath was with Simon and Baz without having to read all the tiny excerpts.
- Cath and Wren have tremendous unresolved issues with their mother who abandoned them when they were eight. They haven't had any contact with her for ten years, until she suddenly wants to try and establish a relationship with her daughters. Cath holds a deep grudge and she wants nothing to do with her mother. I was expecting much more development and resolution on this storyline, but I was disappointed that it didn't happen. I appreciated that this stays true to real life, and things don't always work out the way we want them.
Fangirl is a wonderful coming of age book that I think any girl heading off to college should read. It has genuine, likable characters and an adorable romance that will leave you giddy. I truly appreciated the growth and transformation of the characters, and I hated to say goodbye. After this fantastic experience, I am definitely adding Ms. Rowell to my must read author list. I highly recommend you check out this book.
"Look....Cath said. "I can't just let strange guys into my room. I don't even know your name. This whole situation is too rapey."
"He's a perfectly good boyfriend," Cath would say.
"He's and end table," Wren would answer.
"He's always there for me."
"...to set magazines on."
"The conversion was her favorite part. "That moment," she told Cath, "when you realize that a guy's looking at you differently---that you're taking up more space in his field of vision. That moment when you know he can't see past you anymore."
"He already thought she was a weirdo, and this was just going to make her seem that much weirder. Did the bearded lady get excited when cute guys came to her freak show?"
"Smiling is confusing, she thought. This is why I don't do it."
"But you're so helpless sometimes. It's like watching a kitten with its head trapped in a Kleenex box."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.