Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


44. [Fangirl] (audio book), by Rainbow Rowell (*****)
Category: Part Four – Just Because

Prepare for caplocks and lots of squee.

Cath and her twin sister Wren have loved Simon Snow since they were kids and avidly lived in the fandom, reading, discussing, and writing fanfic. But when go to college, they head for college, Wren wants her own life and to leave all that behind. Facing a new school with new social rules by herself, Cath retreats further into the fanfic worlds she’s created and that she refuses to leave behind.

I love, love, LOVE this book. Normally I only listen to audio books in the morning on my way to work, because after work I’m too mentally tired to pay attention. But with Fangirl, I couldn’t stop listening, using every available moment in the car that I could to keep listening.

(I should note here that if you don’t get fandom, then it will probably be hard to relate to this book, since it’s a vital element to the story.)

I relate to Cath so much. The desire to read, to hang out on the internet, to hide in my room rather than socially interact with strangers is something I’ve felt myself on a regular basis. I’ve been left behind by friends (in her case, family) who I assumed would always be there and found myself at a loss to fill the gap. I also relate to her joy over Simon Snow, as I’m sure many fans who fall in love with imagined worlds do.

I also ADORE Levi. He’s just so, so NICE. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have a male love interest be just a genuinely good guy, who treats every person he meets with politeness and good humor. Someone has his own interests and makes human mistakes and tries to do good. Someone who respects and personal boundaries and when sex comes up, approaches the discussion and possibility in a way to make sure both parties are 100% comfortable. He’s not a mysterious bad guy and that is so sexy.

I also really love each and every side character. Reagan, who is outwardly mocking and all hard edges, but has a secrete inner mushy side and is a fantastic friend. Wren, who in her desperate attempt to find her own way can sometimes be cruel to those she loves. Cath and Wren’s dad, who stumbles through everyday life with a mental disorder, but is creatively electric. And so many others, even those who are awful people in the end.

Oh! And I love the integration of snippets from the Simon Snow books and the fanfiction that Cath writes. These snippets parallel the main story so well and somehow Rowell manages to paint a overall picture with these bits and pieces of what the Simon Snow novels and fandom would be like if they existed. I found myself wishing that they did so I could read them.

Cath’s story is about growing up and I love the fact that growing up doesn’t mean abandoning the things you love, rather it means integrating them in a more balanced way. I love that relationships are based on building and keeping trust and offering forgiveness when necessary. Really, there are SO many things I loved and I found myself cycling through laughter and tears throughout, and even at the end both at the same time.

Such a delightful read.