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Reading Mutiny Challenge: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Format: Kindle e-book
Rating: 5/5

Cath and Wren have done everything together their whole lives - it sort of comes with the twin territory. However, Wren dropped a bombshell and decided they should room separately at college, leaving Cath with an older roommate and said roommate's ever present supposed fancyman. Cath's only solace is her writing - most notably, her much loved Simon Snow fan fiction. Cath has to choose whether to step outside and embrace college life or stick to the comfort of her online world. 

First of all, let's get this out the way [if you can't see the video click here]:

Ok, Rainbow Rowell is officially on my go to authors list now. Fangirl was seriously laugh out loud funny and when I wasn't laughing, I was smiling to myself - even though I was on a packed train every time I read it because it was my train read for the week. There were so many funny quotes and witty observations, oh and Kanye West! I won't spoil them for you though.

Cath was such a sweet character. She was the perfect vehicle for showing what the first year of college is like for mostly everyone. We all had that moment of wanting to quit, didn't we? Except mine came in the penultimate term of the final year - ha! Better late than never. It was such a joy to see Cath uncoil and - corny as it sounds - blossom. I felt like cheering out loud for her to believe in her writing Matilda to Bruce Bogtrotter style.

We all have a Wren type person in our lives (I love the name Wren by the way). Rainbow Rowell did a great of not turning her into a villain. Even though the story was from Cath's point of view, I still felt sympathetic towards Wren who was desperate to break away and have that full college experience - partly as escapism and partly because that's her personality. She's the fearless one.

Fangirl also dealt with the issue of mental illness without making it an 'issues' kind of book. No teaching or preaching, just poignantly handled. Art was a wonderful character and he had some great lines too.

Levi was a ray of sunshine! In the beginning, by the way he was described, I couldn't help but think of him like Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock. This changed a little as he became more involved in the story but still, it was nice to have such a positive character. He was like a mini Lincoln from Attachments! Reagan was also perfect as the worldly, older roommate (did anyone else picture Kat Dennings?) I really enjoyed the Cath-Reagan-Levi dynamic. Oh and I can completely relate to the door-kicking thing as I have been scolded more than once for flinging open a door. Apparently, despite being a wee thing, I have Incredible Hulk like strength.

As for Simon Snow - well that was just the icing on an already pretty delicious cake. I laughed every time I read that they were in Watford. Yes, Watford is the home to the Harry Potter Studio Tour but Watford is the gateway to the North and Londoners often joke that the furthest 'oop north' they've been is Watford Junction. I don't know what the US or Canadian equivalent would be so I can't really explain it... it just tickled me. Anyway, the Simon Snow madness made me nostalgic for Harry Potter mania. I love The Hunger Games but nothing has really come close to the HP hysteria. I started the series when I was about ten and was always smugly gleeful that Harry seemed to be growing up with me. I devoured the fan fiction - and beta'd too!- , went to the midnight launches (I'll never forget the final book release party I attended in Georgia and will always be grateful to my cousins and their friends for indulging my obsession), I queued in sweltering heat and got sunstroke at the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (we didn't even get in that day!)...and the list goes on! In that respect, Fangirl was a wonderful ode to all of us who are a bit - ok a lot - nerdy about something (and we've all got something).

I wish there were more books set in college like Fangirl. It seems as though most of the college stories these days fall into that now dreaded category 'New Adult' and seem to almost always consist of the protagonist 'losing it' or being violated in someway - which I'm glad Sarah at +Clear Eyes, Full Shelves pointed out the other day [here]. It is disturbing. Contemporary YA is all about coming of age. Well, college (or gap year, or anything post school) still counts as coming of age and it is here that the genre is severely lacking. Or perhaps I'm not looking in the right places. What do you think?

Anyway, for now, Fangirl was fantastic and I'm on the Rainbow Rowell train for life!


  1. I thought the same thing....about wanting more YA contemporary fiction like this! I feel like there's a gap right now in NA & YA, where every book is an issue book. How about just plain fun? How about a great love story? How about dealing with real things, but it a light-hearted way? Rowell does this brilliantly, and I can't wait for more from her!

    Great book review, Sophia! I really enjoyed it!

    1. Thanks Heidi!

      Yes it would be nice to see the fun brought back to YA. It seems like everyone is subscribing to the 'you gotta have a gimmick' notion but if you read to escape, sometimes you don't want to deal with a gimmick. When I read Attachments I thought Rainbow Rowell's style reminded me of the 'chick-lit' (and I don't mean to use that term negatively) I enjoyed like Meg Cabot's books, which were always fun but had a lot of heart. Hopefully agents/publishers will notice this glaring gap and feed us some more Fangirl type books because I'm sure people are writing them!

  2. Everyone loves this book! I haven't heard or read anything negative about Fangirl. I was not however aware of the mental illness issue in this book. I'm not really a fan fiction type but I agree there has never been any group like HP fans. I don't think they can ever be topped. You are completely right about college books. They are mostly NA reads and seriously most of the stuff that happens in them don't feel true to life. I like the hilarity that this book is sure to give me. I really want to read Fangirl and Rainbow Rowell's (Do we know if that's her real name?) Attachments... and Eleanor & Park. Great review (:

    1. Thanks Adriana!

      I think the Twi-hards tried to take the crown from HP fans but they're not even in the same league! I'm not sure if Rainbow is her real name or pen name but I knew a Sunshine so there's a distinct possibility! I hope you get to read Fangirl soon-you won't be disappointed.


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