Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: YA Contemporary, Romance
Published: 2014 (UK)
Acquired: Bought on Amazon
Book Blurb:: Cath and Wren are identical twins and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they’re off to university and Wren’s decided she doesn’t want to be one half of a pair anymore- she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It’s not so easy for Cath. She would rather bury herself in the fanfiction she writes where there’s romance far more intense than anything she’s experienced in real life.
Now Cath has to decide whether she’s ready to open her heat to new people and new experienced, and she’s realizing that there’s more to learn about love than she ever thought possible…
Note:Hi guys! This is my first book review and I am still getting myself in the zone. Hopefully this reads well without too many spoilers and that I will reach a format and content structure I feel comfortable with soon. I hope you enjoy it and, of course, any feedback is greatly appreciated! 🙂
Okay, so I went into reading this book knowing nothing about it except what’s written in the blurb. I saw a lot of copies on Bookstagram bookshelves which piqued my interest, and once I saw an offer on Amazon I knew I had to check it out. And you know what? Rainbow Rowell certainly didn’t disappoint- I must’ve read this book in about 3 or 4 hours it was that good!
Firstly I want to take a moment and point out how nice the cover is! It makes me way happier than it should do to be honest. 🙂 The simple mint-green and pink colour scheme is different and definitely makes the book stand out (especially on my bookshelf which is about 70% black haha). It’s beautiful in its own unique way, and I love it for that.
So, down to the book itself. In a nutshell Fangirl is a coming-of-age story, depicting the first year of university life. From my own personal experience the step to university is such a learning curve that affects not only your ability to survive away from home but to mentally adapt to all these new surroundings and people. I felt that this book depicted this journey perfectly and is such a relatable story (ugh, I miss uni life so much now!).
The book centers around twins Cather and Wren, who are going to the same university. Despite being biologically identical Cath and Wren have distinct personalities. Wren loves parties and drinking while Cath is very introverted and has high levels of anxiety about moving to new surroundings. As the blurb mentions the story mainly focuses on Cath’s transition through her first year, including creating friendships, managing classes, dealing with family life and potential love interests. Oh and she also has to finish writing her highly popular Simon Snow fanfiction before the final book is officially released by the original author (Simon Snow mimics the magical world and popularity of Harry Potter)- no pressure!
OMG also can I just say that I am in love with the twins’ name choices here? It did make me chuckle as I honestly didn’t put two and two together until Cath spoke about it with Levi (I was too engrossed in the story to focus on the names). Good work Rainbow Rowell! 😀
Out of all the characters I am definitely a Cath. She can be a bit extreme with her writing but I do have the exact same opinions as her about kissing and relationships, so I was really rooting for her to find love and happiness (I still have hope it will happen to me too!). I didn’t always understand Cath’s reasonings for things as I don’t share her level of social anxiety, but it really did open my eyes into her situation and I was so excited to see how she would progress in the book.
Of course Wren is not without her own problems but she deals with them differently, which causes tension between the sisters. Despite being more extroverted Wren is just as vulnerable and it was really interesting to see how the relationship between the twins changed and grew through their experiences. It is a part of growing up and I am glad that Rowell discussed this in the book, as the family aspect is often overlooked. I didn’t mind Wren as a character but I didn’t get emotionally invested in her problems, which I feel kinda bad about.
I would say that the main theme of this book is definitely the growth or adaptation of love and life during uni. At the same time it is important to note how Fangirl touches on key issues like mental health in a way that is really easy to understand, especially regarding Cath and Wren’s family life. For example the twins’ father who suffers from bi-polar disorder. Rather than making a big deal about the symptoms and glorifying them for the sake of a novel Rainbow Rowell has inserted it in a realistic way. She focuses on the little niggles and signs that become a part of a family living with mental illness, yet doesn’t paint their father in a negative or overly-debilitating light. I have not had a lot of experience with mental illness in books or in real life, so for me this was a really interesting perspective that opened my eyes a little and certainly grabbed my attention.
One thing I did enjoy about this book is the way that Rainbow creates a diverse mix of personalities and illustrates these developing relationships. Each character, love interest or not, has their own flaws (physical or mental) and I think it the inclusion of these it so positive and refreshing. Not all love interests have to be like Adonis, that’s for sure! I also love the friendship that grows between Regan and Cath, their personalities are so different yet they seem to compliment each other well. Levi is a little ray of sunshine and, although I didn’t like him as a character I thought his growing relationship with Cath was so so sweet!!! It gave me such a warm feeling and gives me hope that someone will treat me like that too, no matter what flaws I have.
Also I just want to say: GODDAMN NICK! I was so impressed with Cath’s decision at the end though, I don’t think I would have done what she did. I think I would have become the doormat who sits in a corner forever grumbling about the injustice of it all (despite me letting it happen).
I also have a bit of an issue with the excerpts dotted around Fangirl. I have never really been interested in fanfiction but I did like the inclusion of some of the Magicath excerpts. They did help gain an insight into the Cath’s Simon Snow universe and to see the hidden narrative of her role in the fandom, but I didn’t feel the content aided the story in any way. There was also no reason to include excerpts from the Simon Snow books as they didn’t add to the story at all, nor did it entice me into the world of Simon Snow either (also, why is it based in Watford? They could have picked somewhere more magical-looking haha).
If anything it would be better if the excerpts were focusing on parts of the Simon Snow series that Cath may have been reading for guidance in her life, considering she is a fangirl who is supposed to be obsessed with all things Snow. Alternatively Rowell could have included more snippets from the fanfiction she was working on at the exact moment of the events in the story, rather than random sections here and there? That said that is my personal preference and I did still enjoy their novel inclusion to help break up the story a little.
Overall I am so glad I gave Fangirl a shot. It was a lovely read and, although it didn’t excite me as much as a good fantasy would do, I still couldn’t put this book down. It is a great story of personal and mental growth that is really relevant for people at university or thinking of heading there in the nearby future (although in the UK it isn’t common to have a shared room). I don’t think I’ll be reading the Snow fiction Carry On, but I may try reading some of Rainbow Rowell’s other novels in the future.