Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
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?
As a bibliophile and huge fangirl myself, this book means a lot to me. Rowell’s capacity for creating characters that live and breathe never ceases to amaze me. I relate to Cath like crazy, and I’m sure that dozens of other fangirls will, too.
I was a little worried that Rowell’s depiction of fans - and fanfic writers - would veer too close to the offensive, ill-informed opinions that a lot of people have of it, but it didn’t. She managed to convey Cath’s love for the Simon Snow series and fic without insulting fangirls, and while still having her non-fan characters think it’s weird. Because let’s face it: people think it’s weird. I’m just impossibly happy Rowell doesn’t.
The subplots in this book are fantastic. Every single character has a story of their own, but they don’t blot out Cath’s, and it’s awesome. To be honest, this book is a lot less exciting plot-wise than most of the things I read. No apocalypse, no villain, just plain realistic fiction - and Rowell pulls it off beautifully. I’m totally in love with the way she melds Simon’s story (both “canon” and fic) into Cath’s with subtle, well-written parallels. It’s a beautiful thing.
If you’re looking for a book with the right balance of romance and plot, this is the book for you.
Once Upon a Time...
As a longtime lover of stories and a believer in the power and magic of books, I've spent my life seeking out the best reads. This blog is dedicated to reviewing the books I read - good, bad, or magnificent - to help other readers find their next favorite books.