Review: Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: September 10th 2013 (US), January 30th 2014 (UK), April 1st 2014 (AUS)
Published By: St. Martin’s Griffin (US), Pan Macmillan (UK and AUS)
Pages: 438
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list
Purchase: Click here to purchase

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Synopsis: A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

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?

Review: A book about a girl who writes fan-fiction? Genius! This concept alone put this book on my wishlist - along with the fact that everyone was saying what a fantastic writer Rainbow Rowell is. And I have to admit - it was all true.

Cath is a true fangirl. She adores everything Simon Snow - she has read the books, watched the movies, been to midnight book launches, has the posters and life-size cut-outs and writes fan-fiction. Her world revolves around Simon Snow, and her twin sister Wren.

Cath is happy with her life as it is, however she has reluctantly agreed to leave her hometown and her father to attend college with Wren - she knows that by doing this she will be outside her comfort zone, but she doesn’t quite realise by how much.

Now they are in the off to live life as college students, Wren doesn’t want to be roommates with Cath - leaving Cath completely at a loss on how live her life. She has always had Wren to support her, to be her constant rock, but now Wren is off living her own life without including Cath. I found this disconnection between Cath and Wren quite realistic. They have grown up together, being as close as any sisters can be - but now upon entering this new stage of their life, Wren wants to break free and be her own person, rather than one half of set. Whereas Cath wants to cling to Wren - to hold close the only thing that is constant in this new, big and scary world. The more that Wren relishes in her new-found freedom, the more Cath withdraws into herself. Wren has always been the outgoing one, the one who makes friends, the glue that holds everything together for Cath. Now Cath is on her own, and she doesn’t know how to be anyone if she isn’t being Wren’s twin sister.

Cath is not ready to let go of her old life. She wants to hold onto Wren, she refuses to let go of Simon Snow, and she relishes the fandom that comes along with it. She is obsessed with this fandom, spending hours and hours writing fan-fiction. To the point, that she cannot even finish an assignment for writing class that doesn’t involve writing fan-fiction - she is so absorbed in this world that it is has become a crutch.

Cath clearly has social anxiety issues. And I felt that this subject was expertly written. These issues were written in such a real and honest way that it was relatable even to those who don’t suffer from such issues. Cath is definitely an introvert, and even though she may be shy and not be a social butterfly, she definitely has her own personality! She is quirky, insecure, loyal, awkward, funny and sincere.

Cath slowly introduces herself into real life with the help of her outgoing roommate Reagan. Reagan is a breath of fresh air (well, more like a hurricane of it actually), and I think she is exactly what Cath needed. She is bold, outspoken, blunt, funny and, in even though it was reluctantly, she becomes a true friend. This is where Cath meets Levi, Reagans’s boyfriend. He is charming, sweet, considerate and funny. Their relationship develops at a very natural pace and is very cute (and no, I do not classify this a love triangle). I loved Levi’s character - and there was something about his character which I thought was a wonderful addition to this storyline. Once again, I felt that Rainbow Rowell took a real-life issue and masterfully blended this into the storyline and character.

And even though dealing with this new life is hard enough for Cath, things then get really rough for her. Her and Wren barely talking, things go badly for her and Levi, her writing partner turns out to someone completely different to who she thought, she has a run-in with her professor, her dad gets sick and she just has to finish her Simon Snow fanfiction before the final book is released.

Fangirl is a fantastic contemporary novel with realistic characters and relatable situations. It isn’t a fast-paced book - in all honesty at about the half way mark you may still be wondering where the story is going… but that is not to say that it is brilliant! Rainbow Rowell has a true talent for writing clear contemporary. Her writing style is very easy to read, convincing, addictive and true. She has an outstanding ability to write varying characters that are true to themselves, and the issues that they are facing. There is no fluff… it is honest, succinct and realistic.

I also loved the fact that throughout the book you get snippets of the “real” Simon Snow books and of Cath’s (and sometimes even Wren’s) fanfiction. The Simon Snow series is clearly based on Harry Potter, and it’s fandom, but that didn’t bother me at all. As someone who is not a fangirl to this degree, I found being able to connect it to a fandom that I do know about, I could relate to it better.

Fangirl is about living your life, not just being a spectator. It is about being outside your comfort zone, reassessing your world and being able to expand it to allow other things in. It shows that new situations doesn’t always mean having to let go of everything you love - that by allowing yourself to try new things, letting go of insecurities and allowing new people into your life, that you may actually find yourself.



“Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and mildly socially retarded, I’m a complete disaster.”

“But you’re so helpless sometimes. It’s like watching a kitten with its head trapped in a Kleenex box.”

“You give away nice like it doesn’t cost you anything.”

“You’re never going to find a guy who’s exactly like you—first of all, because that guy never leaves his dorm room.…”

“To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.”

“I’m not really a book person.”
“That might be the most idiotic thing you’ve ever said to me”


What do you think?

  • I loved Fangirl as well and it’s more about a realistic experience than a strong plot, but I’m glad you loved it! The Simon Snow snippets I know a few could have done without but I personally enjoyed them. Awesome review Christy!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    • Kristy says:

      Fangirl has certainly resonated with a lot of people, and I think that is due to the fact it is realistic. It is a great story, and I look forward to reading more of Rainbow Rowell’s work :)

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