Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult | Romance | Contemporary
4 out of 5 stars – This book reminded me of my little sister. She spends all of her time writing and reading fan fiction – going to university was definitely a social adventure for her and Cath sounded just like my sister. Recommended by Goodreads and Booktube, I just had to give it a go.
Cath – a popular and prolific fanfiction writer – and one half of a set of twins goes to university, away from her father, separated from a twin, who wants her own space and having to traverse a new place while dealing with her own social anxiety. Fangirl details Cath’s various personal trials, tribulations and successes as she experiences her first year at university – that transitory year of beginning adulthood.
“Reading is not lonely.”
This is a mixed review and that is mostly because I have now had real time to reflect on this book and feel a little bit differently than I did after first completing it. Firstly, I want to say that I really enjoyed this – it made me laugh and I was eager to see more about Cath’s relationships and to watch her grow up and develop. Secondly, I did think that this still really reminded me of my younger sister – which is great! As it means the book was realistic and the characterisation was really well done. Thirdly, I would recommend this book, in fact, I did recommend it, to my sister, who will not be taking it with her to Italy. I really hope that she finds it both nostalgic and hopeful.
At first, I felt a little bit troubled by the fanfiction but as I went through the novel I didn’t really mind at all and I completely understood Cath’s love and commitment to the characters, her work and her fans. I study fans as part of my research, I am a part of fan communities and I roleplay and write – so I understood Cath’s feelings exactly. However, on later reflection, I feel the fan fiction is actually kind of an unnecessary addition?
It frames the story well, adds uniqueness to Cath that is really explored and is something she shows that others must simply learn to accept about her, rather than the cliché idea that she must just put these things away – but ultimately? I, unfortunately, feel that the fanfiction could have been anything geeky that Rowell could have written about, and I find that notion kind of sad.
That said, this book was still very well written. It deals with a large number of issues that were not just limited to Cath and managed to do so in a way that was fun and still quite poignant and I really appreciated that one of it felt less clichéd – and more real.
If you are about to go to University, or you’re heading out to start your adult life, this is a great novel to read. It will comfort you and give you some strength and assure you that you are not alone. If you’re older, like me, and have already done all this and had those experiences then this will be a funny and heartfelt bit of nostalgia.
If You Like This
Rainbow Rowell also writes adult fiction and since I really enjoyed her writing style, I am very eager to read some more. Although I have picked up Eleanor and Park already, I think I may give Attachment or Landline a try too. If you’re looking for something by a different writer, try Dodi Smith I Capture the Castle. I haven’t read it for a long time, but it was great when I was 18 and I’m eager to give it another try sometime soon.