PAPERBACK; 461 P. PAN MACMILLAN, 2014/2013 SOURCE: PURCHASED
Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair any more – she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She’s horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fanfiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.
Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible …
In autumn 2013 I started noticing that a book called Fangirl started appearing in a lot of Tumblr posts. Soon enough it was circling round blogoshpere with raving reviews everywhere. The premise sounded promising, so I made a mental note to get myself a copy some day. However, it seemed that the book was nowhere to be found in the bookstores. So I waited and waited. Now, about a year later, I finally caved in and ordered it online. The book arrived within two weeks of the order, and last Sunday morning I opened the book and read the first page. At 12 PM the same day I closed the book, having reached the last page.
Fangirl centers around Cath who with her twin sister Wren is starting university. Cath and Wren have always been inseparable, but now that they are facing a new stage in their lives Wren wants to change that. She wants to go to the parties, kiss boys and hang out with her friends. Cath, who is more socially anxious than her sister, feels left out and as her roommate Reagan doesn’t really seem to be interested in her, she turns towards the world of fanfiction. Cath is obsessed with the Simon Snow series and has a large following in the fanfiction community. Outside of classes, Cath hangs out in her room, writing fanfiction and eating energy bars (since she is too scared to approach the cafeteria). However, Cath is constantly thrown in contact with Reagan and Reagan’s friend Levi, who seems to be always hanging in their dorm room. Throw into the mix Cath and Wren’s father, who is mentally unstable, and you have a thought-provoking but fun book about growing up and learning to love.
Let me just begin by saying that there is a lot of hype surrounding Fangirl, and that it all stands to reason. Rainbow Rowell is considered by many as one of the best current YA authors, and based on Fangirl, I can say that she truly knows how to write realistic characters. Like many people, I found myself easily relating to the main character, Cath, though maybe not as much as I had expected. The writing flows well, there is just the right mix of humour and seriousness, and in the beginning of each chapter there are small excerpts of either the Simon Snow books or Cath’s fanfiction that relate to the story. I loved the fact that Rowell didn’t over-explain every detail and that the characters were able to stand on their own. Fangirl is a book with a heartwarming romance, but also deeper themes such as responsibility, self-discovery, family, relationships and many more. After finishing the book, I wanted to read it again, because I didn’t want to say goodbye to the characters – I wanted more.
I heartily recommend this book to people who are starting university, who grew up with Harry Potter, or who are struggling to find their place in the new surrounding.
“Just… isn’t giving up allowed sometimes? Isn’t it okay to say, ‘This really hurts, so I’m going to stop trying’?”
“It sets a dangerous precedent.”
“For avoiding pain?”
“For avoiding life.”