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?
This book is like this perfect balance of slice-of-life and fluff, in which, it has some fluff, but totally centers around the actual journey of the heroine navigating her first year of college.
Having never had the college experience, I can only imagine the anxieties and feelings of loneliness one probably goes through being left all alone in a new environment. However, being a person who used to write fanfiction and has social anxieties as deep as Cath, that I could relate to. Like seriously, even the way she thought was totally on my wavelength. For instance, I would have this conversation with a guy:
Cath’s stomach clenched. “Well, I can’t just let you in,” she blurted.
“I don’t even know you.”
“Are you kidding me?” He laughed. “We met yesterday. I was in the room when you met me.”
“Yeah, but I don’t know you. I don’t even know Reagan.”
“Are you going to make her wait outside, too?”
“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.”
“You understand,” she said, “right?”
When you’re a writer and an extreme introvert, you can push people away knowingly or unknowingly. And when you’re a writer, you’re constantly pressured to keep producing, especially when your content is popular. Grant it, my fanfiction never got the thousands of hits as Cath’s, but the pressure was always there to put out new content because commenters are always like: “When’s the next chapter? I need more, more, more!” I sympathized entirely with Cath. And the people around her, the people that could put up with her level of crazy, they were so perfect. They balanced her out. They pushed her to do things that she wasn’t exactly comfortable with, and without them, Cath just wouldn’t have survived. Actually, I’m quite positive she would’ve had some sort of panic or anxiety attack within that first semester if it weren’t for the people that kept her anchored. The surrounding cast are like unsung heroes of the book.
And besides the fan community of the book, I really loved the sense of family. It just seems like in a lot of YA/NA books, the family aspect sort of gets pushed to the side so that the hero/heroine can take center stage and make all these decisions and mistakes and we can sort of tumble around on some sort of journey with them. Not so much here. Cath is so family-oriented and so broken because of family matters, that it’s her family and fanfiction that make up much of the drama. And personally, I loved it.
It’s refreshing to read a book that doesn’t turn the romantic subplot into the main aspect and pushes the journey away. There’s no insta-love (thank God). The romance is gradual. It’s a true coming-of-age story about a fangirl dealing with all the aspects that life has to offer and dealing with her own level of craziness and making that leap from “I can’t write my original fiction because it’s too hard” to “I can write my original fiction.” My only complaint about the book? I feel like there’s a lot of loose ends, then again, maybe those loose ends were left on purpose so that we can write fanfiction about it and come up with our own endings.
Anyone who’s into any fandoms and has expressed their love for their fandom through any way, such as (but not limited to): fanfiction, fanart, cosplay, or fan MVs! Let your fandom shine!
The fictional series within the book, Simon Snow, seems to be loosely based on Harry Potter with, perhaps, a hint of Twilight. It’s rather interesting in itself. The scene where Cath waits in line and finally gets her hand on the final book in the series and suddenly realizes that the series is officially over is something that’s all too familiar with me. It was then and there that I determined Rainbow Rowell has been stalking me and turned me into a book character.