Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review: Fangirl

FANGIRL
Rainbow Rowell
Contemporary New Adult
405 pages
St. Martin's Press
Available September 10th
Source: BEA

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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?


MY THOUGHTS
Fangirl is a story that instantly resonates, Cath's passion for a beloved book series and its characters something that makes us feel connected to her from page one, easily becoming members of her online community through our shared love of fiction and the worlds it paints word by word. Seeing our love and the very thing that makes us so happy reflected in someone else, even a fictional character, is like a glorious validation of our feelings, the acknowledgement from Cath that we're not alone in something that people outside a specific fandom – whether it be books, movies, games or comics – might not fully understand causing us to want to stop reading for a moment and just give Fangirl a monstrous hug for telling what feels like our own story.

Cath is a young women perched precariously on the threshold between stasis and change, scared to move forward when her life up until this point has been as she thinks she wants it, wrapped up in family, writing, and her unending love for the Simon Snow book series. What's so comforting and heartwarming about Cath's story is the way change happens for her; the new people and new experiences in her life are in no way indicators that her life before was less-than or in need of new direction, but rather they are the opposite, embracing the woman she is and showing her it's safe to expand her world outward without losing touch with what's she's already so painstakingly built. Change for Cath is a stunningly gradual process, and our faces simply can't help but break out into a giddy grin as she takes baby steps into uncharted territory even as she maintains a death grip on what's familiar to her.

The romance in this story is woven lovingly into the gradual change process, Cath's extreme hesitancy to explore any type of relationship with Levi after being burned initially a refreshing break from the insta-love and insta-lust of so many fictional relationships. Trust is of the utmost importance to her, and she makes both Levi and herself work long and hard at building a foundation that won't crumble at the slightest shake, opening herself up an inch at a time until she's absolutely sure Levi won't take up the slack in her rope and hang her with it. Their banter is adorable and so sweet we can hardly even stand it (in a good way, not an overly-saccharine way), and their romance shares the spotlight spectacularly well with Cath's writing and her various family challenges, ensuring her life feels utterly genuine in its highs and lows.

Those readers looking for an action-packed read or a grand, sweeping romance will not find it in Fangirl, instead we're all treated to four hundred pages of life – sometimes it's a bit slow, sometimes frustrating or painful, but it's also sometimes so magnificently satisfying and intense the warmth of our glow doesn't fade for days. In between the chapters of Cath's life we're also gifted with snippets of both Simon Snow canon as well as excerpts from Cath's Simon Snow fanfiction, as caught up in the Harry Potter-esque world as Cath is. We revel in the seriousness with which she approaches the fandom, pleased her dedication mirrors our own to whatever book series we love most, and we're simply grateful to see that love expressed so beautifully by Ms. Rowell.

Rating 4/5
 

Find Rainbow:


This book was given to me at BEA free of charge by the publisher for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

35 comments:

  1. I've been reading this one today and I have alike a perma-grin on face. SO. FREAKING. GOOD! I'm loving that there's no instant romance. The whole thing, so far, is just amazing!

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    1. YAY! I'm so glad you're loving it too Candace! Can't wait to hear what you think when you're done:)

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  2. You know how much I LOVED this book! Like so damn freaking much! It was so full of everything and so amazing and so ..ah! :) This was for me one of the best books this year and I wish I could read it again to have these feelings back! *sigh*

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    1. It was awesome. More Rainbow please:)

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  3. I loved this book. I think I'm going to give it a 4.5 or a 5, but I know what you mean by it being slow and frustrating at times. The payoff was worth it though. I think what I ultimately love was how real it felt - and real can be hard.

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    1. Agreed! It felt very real and genuine and I just loved that about it:)

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  4. Yes, I love that this sounds like a story we can all relate to!! I might even be able to relate to this even more than most because I was very much involved in the HP fandom (including fanfiction) for about a decade before it all came to a devastating end and I was left floundering with what to do with myself after that... in the end I started a blog! Ha.

    Sadly, I've yet to read any of Rainbow Rowell's books yet, but I'm definitely getting the impression from everyone's reviews that she is very talented when it comes to cute dialogue. I might be a bit worried that this one might be a bit too boring for me at times, but ultimately, if I can connect to the story line and the characters, then that hopefully shouldn't be a problem. I'm seriously excited for this!! Really fantastic review, Jenny!

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    1. I think you would really like it Aylee, especially if you were super involved in the HP fandom. I wouldn't say it was ever boring, it just slowed down in parts as life does, and I think Cath will keep you reading even then:)

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  5. What a beautiful review, Jenny! I'm SO looking forward to picking up Fangirl, simply because Cath seems like the most relatable character out there. Not only this, but the way you describe her change as a character makes me want to pick this up even more. And that romance? It seems so subtle yet strong, and I love that Cath wants a truthful relationship with Levi. I can't wait to read this one! Gorgeous review, dear. :)

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    1. Thanks Jen! Cath and Levi are fabulous, I want to go back and read them all over again:)

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  6. Hm, yes something pulls me towards this book

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    1. It's a book lover's book for sure!

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  7. Beautiful review, Jenny. This is definitely book that I regret not looking more into after all the praise it has been receiving. I love to watch characters grow and it looks like Cath does a lot of that.
    Plus, I'm glad that she makes the guy work to earn her trust. She is one smart character.
    I'm looking forward to the sweet romance between Cath and Levi.
    You've definitely got me excited, Jenny! :) Fabulous convincing review as always!

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    1. Yes! LOVED the romance Nick - relatively low on angst and the two of them are just so darn cute. She makes both of them work for their relationship, it was fun to read about:)

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  8. I have my review for this one coming up as well and I agree with everything you said, this was so well done and so realistic feeling. I really enjoyed it!
    Beautiful review as always Jenny!!

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  9. So glad you liked it. I can't wait to check it out.

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  10. Hey, is Rainbow's name real or just a pseudonym? It's just such a gorgeous name and her book covers really portray her name and her sweet romances well:) So happy you loved it. First review I've seen for this pretty so far. I'm so happy that this girl really makes the guy work for it. You have to earn it at the end of the day--no good things come free:) The harder the work, the sweeter the prize ;) It sounds like such a cutipie and fun read. Adorable review, hon!

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  11. I'm really curious about this one and I hope I enjoy it. I love the subject matter and the characters all seem so well-done. I'll definitely be picking up a copy when this releases!(: Wonderful review, Jenny!

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  12. I have been hearing so much about this author that I finally decided to pick up Eleanor and Park. In fact, I'm reading it right now. Thanks for the review. Hopefully, I will have time to read this one as well.

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  13. So it Fangirl fangirl-worthy? Sorry I went there. No, not sorry.

    PS. I'm moon hunting tonight.

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  14. Wow, Jenny. You know me. I love contemporary books that are true to life, and if this embodies all the pain, frustration, sadness, love and sweetness that life really is, sign me up. I've seen mixed reviews of this one, but to hear that it is so very beautiful - and beautifully written - has convinced me to try it. Fantastic review!

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  15. Fantastic review, Jenny! I have been very curious about Rowell's books. I am dying to read them as I've heard such good things. This one sounds like a sweet read and I love that there isn't insta-love...I'm definitely getting frustrated with that lately. I'm sure I can relate to Cath and her love of a particular series. :)

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  16. I definitely feel like this book is a love letter to fandom, and I adore that about it! I think everyone who's been in fandom (or heck, even us bloggers fangirling enough over books that we write about them) can relate to it. Loved this one!!

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  17. Oh, I so love how Cath's story evolved -- it really was so warm and comforting to see how people embraced her quirks and helped her emerge from her shell to blossom. Such a great story of life. Rainbow definitely knows how to tell that kind of story beautifully.

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  18. I'm so happy to hear you loved this! I can totally related to being a fangirl and having a fandom that you're crazy passionate about that sort of takes over your life. I think I'm going to love Cath, and I'm looking forward to the Simon Snow snippets and her fan fiction snippets too! Lovely review Jenny :-)

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  19. I might have passed on this but you talked about it being real... feeling real. That totally makes me want to read it now. I like these kinds of books because of the character growth. Wasn't sure if it had it from the book blurb. Yep, now I'm curious!

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  20. I am reading this one next week and I so cant' wait. I have heard amazing things about this author and I am in the mood for a feel good book that will leave me smiling. So happy you loved this one!

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  21. I keep seeing this one around and the more I read about this book, the more I feel like I will love it. Cath seems really relate able and it sounds like Fangirl will make a great weekend read for me.

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  22. this is my next read. I just finished reading Rowell's first two books, 'Attachments' and 'Eleonor & Park' and this next. So excited to read this one.

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  23. AHHHHH! I love Rainbow Rowell! Eleanor and Park is my favorite contemp to date and I can't believe I missed out on getting an arc for Fangirl. Nevertheless, I'm dying to read this book and I'm so glad that you mentioned that it's not about some epic romance because that's what I was expecting. Atleast now I'll go in with an open mind. Fantastic review, Jenny!

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  24. This sounds like something that could be pretty easy to relate to, so I'm definitely curious about it now! I don't think I'd mind the slower parts too much, as long as I'm invested in the characters and their story. Lovely review, Jenny! :)

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  25. This one sounds so cute (and that cover is SO CUTE!) I really need to read something by Rainbow Rowell soon. I've heard so many good things!

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  26. Did you read Attachments? It was one of my favorite books I read last year and I'm wondering how this book compares to it.

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  27. This sounds so lovely, Jenny! I love books that grab you even if the writing is just about life with no exciting plot. A lot of the Aussie books are like that, not a whole lot happens just people, relationships, some romance but the writing is captivating enough to hold your attention. I'll have to check this one out. Brilliant review. :)

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  28. That's such a great and very fitting review you wrote! I read Fangirl a while ago and even though I really liked it I felt a tingle of disappointment towards the end. Because it was quieter than I'd expected it to be, a little more action. Reading your review reminds me of all the little things adding up to a book I felt pretty comfortable with and that's a perfect description of what Fangirl is all about! --> "we're all treated to four hundred pages of life"

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