Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell Reviewed by: Lori Twichell Genre: Young Adult Publisher: St. Martins Griffin Publication Date: September 2013
Cath and her twin sister Wren are sort of somewhat maybe kind of ready for college. As part of a pair that’s always been known in the singular, Cath isn’t quite ready to stretch beyond what she already knows. Wren on the other hand, is very ready to jump into new. So much so that she’s chosen not to be Cath’s roommate and not to take similar classes. This causes no small amount of panic and chaos in Cath’s world. It’s not pretty.
It only adds to the adventure when Cath arrives at school to find a boy in her room and eventually discovers that her roomie is more than just a little scary. What’s a girl to do? Well, she could escape into a fictional reality.
You see, Cath and Wren are big Simon Snow fans. They grew up reading books about the young magician, his school of magic and mysticism and all of his friends. (Sound a little familiar?) Beyond just watching the films or reading the books, they used this fictional reality to escape the pain of their mother’s abandonment. Eventually this resulted in Cath becoming a fanfiction writer. More than that, she became one of *the* fanfiction writers in the Simon Snow Fandom. Like 20,000 + followers to her stories. So when things in the real world begin to crunch a little tighter than what’s comfortable, Cath retreats into her safe place: fandom.
I have a confession to make here. I’m a fangirl. Like for realsies. When I find a story, a character or a plot I love too much to let it go, I read fanfiction. I have even dabbled in some. I agree with one of Cath’s resounding statements in the book: It’s fun to play in an already established universe. That said, Rainbow Rowell nailed this story. She gave us characters that are flawed yet fun and descriptions that are so scrumptious, the words need to be read aloud and savored again and again.
Cath’s developing relationship with her roomie, the boyfriend and her devolving relationship with her sister are painful to watch sometimes but they are oh so real. Achingly rich with depth and emotion, Rowell has never stumbled over the human condition. She knows how to tell it like it is but more than that, she fully engages the mind, the soul and the imagination while she does it. I loved her first outing, Attachments, and was nearly as delighted with this tale as I was reading.
For anyone who writes or would like to write, this is a great book to see how it should be done. I’d recommend it on the shelf for anyone with an artist’s soul. For them, this will be an extension of that thing they love to do – create. It soulfully shows the heart of an artist.
My only complaint on this book has nothing to do with the writing. It’s to do with the marketing. The characters in this book are college aged, so they are what’s deemed “New Adults” in the publishing world. I think this would be a great read for anyone that would fall into that NA category. This book, however, is targeted to young adults. The age on it is 13-17. I personally feel that the references, situations and language is a little more mature than the bottom end of that bracket. Seventeen? Yes. Sixteen. Probably. Thirteen to fifteen? Depending on the maturity level of the individual, I would say to proceed with caution.
Again, I loved this book and Rainbow Rowell has proven that her place on my favorites list is not unwarranted.