Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 433 c.
Released: Sept. 10, 2013
Goodreads Rating: 4.2
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?
I really, really enjoyed this book. There was a lot in it that I completely related to, and I think that is what made me feel for Cath a lot. Rowell has a way of creating these intensely real characters that people can relate to; if it is not the main character, it will be one of the secondary characters. You become invested in everyone’s story and start getting frustrated when you see things that should be right in front of the character’s eyes (*cough* LEVI *cough*).
While I did love Cath (mostly because we are pretty similar people) she wasn’t my favourite in the story – that honour goes to Cath’s roommate Reagan (and Levi who I will talk about a little later). Reagan was great and exactly what Cath needed in her life. As someone who clams up when put out of their comfort zone I can tell you how important it is to find someone to pull you out and make you comfortable. Reagan was really direct about it, not giving Cath any other option. Not to mention Reagan was hilarious. Totally my favourite character.
I really didn’t like Wren. She annoyed me. Maybe because her attempts to break away from her sister and become ‘one of the college kids’ was so obviously desperate or it could be because I didn’t relate to her all that much. I never wanted to leave the fandom life- much like Cath – so I wasn’t in sync with Wren’s brainwaves. I just found her character to be really annoying (Cath was annoying too, just not in the same way).
There were only two things that I wasn’t too thrilled about (sort of…you’ll see what I mean).
The first one is Levi. Now don’t get me wrong – I LOVE this character. He’s so sweet and amazing and just an all around great guy…I just couldn’t buy it. Maybe because I’ve never met anyone like that or I’m just a crazy cynic, but his character wasn’t believable to me. Trust me, I wanted him to be believable because, like I said, I loved him and everything he was about (plus he worked at Starbucks – hello free coffee), but I think he was maybe too perfect. Doesn’t change the fact that he is on the “best fictional boyfriend” list, though.
The second thing, and this is actually something that I wasn’t a fan of: the fanfiction.
I love my a good fanfiction. Sometimes I put off reading actual novels to read multiple novel length fanfictions (happens more often than I’d care to admit) and the quality of the fanfiction in Fangirl was not good. I have definitely read better fanfics online, and for someone who is supposed to be the best, the messiah of Baz/Simon fics it just wasn’t good enough.
Overall though I did really enjoy this novel. It was a quick read that held my attention the whole time for so many different reasons. Wanting to know what happened with Cath’s writing class, with Nick, with her sister, her dad, how her relationships with Levi and Reagan were going to grow – there were so many things to look forward to. While I don’t think it’s a book I would read over and over again, I think that anyone who is living the same lifestyle as Cath (or even Wren) should read this book. Big ups to Rowell for writing about a group of people that doesn’t really like being in the spotlight, and doing it really well.
4 out of 5 stars