Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl cover“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 fan fiction 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.

Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She’s got a surly room-mate 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.

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 . . .”

I’ve been keen to read one of Rainbow Rowell’s books for ages, since I first saw people raving about Eleanor & Park on Tumblr. I decided to read Fangirl first, and was definitely not disappointed.

Cath is an ultimate fangirl. Rainbow Rowell’s created a sort of Harry-Potter-equivalent for Cath, the world of Simon Snow and Mages, with Simon’s arch-nemesis, Baz – and Cath is a huge Simon Snow fan, writing endless fanfiction about him and Baz. Before each chapter is an extract either of the Simon Snow books or a bit of Cath’s fanfic and HOLY CRAP I WOULD READ THE HELL OUT OF THE SIMON SNOW BOOKS IF THEY ACTUALLY EXISTED.

I loved Cath. She was awkward and lovely and not really ready for university, and I loved that. I haven’t read many YA books set in college, and this was so great to read. One of the things I loved most about the way Cath was written was that Rainbow Rowell captured that geekiness and awkwardness and ‘I like to be alone but not lonely’-thing perfectly without romanticising it like you see sometimes.

I could talk about this book for ages – reckless and proud Wren, sweet and loveable Levi, and Cath and Wren’s dad, Art, who may just about be one of the coolest dads I’ve read in a YA book – but then I’d be going on way too long.

One thing I didn’t like so much was that sometimes I felt like I’d like to have read more follow-on scenes. Like, sometimes the end of a weekend Cath spent at home was just cut out when I’d have liked to read a little more about how she was feeling. That said, the pace was brilliant, and I totally understand why those kind of things weren’t in the book. It’s not so much a criticism – just that I enjoyed it so much, I could’ve read more, you know?

I’m really looking forward to reading Eleanor & Park and Attachments, and meeting Rainbow Rowell at YALC this summer!

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