Tag Archives: Rainbow Rowell

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

4 Jan

16068905Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin (September 10, 2013)

448 pages 

4 out 5 stars

Synopsis: In the real world, Cath Avery is a painfully shy college freshman who’d rather live on protein bars and peanut butter than figure out the arcane rules of the dining hall. Online, however, she’s a rock star. Her fanfiction novel, set in the fictional world of boy wizard Simon Snow, has thousands of fans. Given the choice, Cath would much rather lose herself in the fandom, but her outgoing twin sister, her sarcastic college roommate, and the cute boy who keeps showing up at her dorm won’t let her.

Review: Fangirl is a tough book to summarize because it’s not really plot driven. Things happen, of course, but they’re less important than Cath’s emotional journey and Rainbow Rowell’s magic, wonderful writing. This was a book I literally could not put down; from the moment I bought it, I carried it around with me, feverishly turning pages until there were none left. It’s funny, sweet, sad, and exactly the book I needed to read.

Introverts will recognize themselves in Cath, whose social anxiety during her first semester of college is nearly crippling. She grows and evolves over the course of the story but never fundamentally changes; Rowell doesn’t try to “fix” her with a makeover and a party montage. The book moves between Cath’s three different worlds–her family, her college friends, and her fandom–as she gradually learns how to be herself. There are no car chases, explosions, overwrought love triangles, or werewolves (although there is, technically, a vampire); instead, it’s a realistic, slice-of-life story that simply lets Cath’s first of year of college unfold. Fans of Stepanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss will love this book; fans of Twilight probably won’t.

Rowell includes “excerpts” from the Simon Snow books (which are a clear analogue for Harry Potter) and Cath’s fanfiction at the beginning of each chapter, as well as a complete story told over the course of several chapters. Readers will either love these sections or skip them all together, but skipping them would be a mistake. They weave in and out of Cath’s narrative, informing the choices she makes and being influenced by the events of her life. Also, I would really like to read the full-length Simon Snow series, so get on that, please.

I haven’t yet read Eleanor & Park, but I’m definitely going to pick it up, as well as anything else she publishes. She’s the real deal, and after one book, I’m already a Rainbow Rowell fangirl.

(Book Source: Purchased hardcover at Barnes & Noble)