I am officially one-hundredth of the way through my reading list!
This is what I thought of the second book I read, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.
I know already that this book involves fan fiction. By the cover, it’s clearly a romance and the main character, Cath, is very swept up in it. The characters on the front look around their late teens/early twenties. At some point, her obsessive fandom will probably hurt her or make someone mad.
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? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?Inside cover of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I’ve decided to add one more section to these Ultimate Reading List Book Reviews: a score on the book’s representation of different races, religions, sexualities, genders, neurodiversity, etc. The number can be from 1 to 5, or “Unclear.”
1/5: Every character was the same or extremely similar in terms of the above categories and more.
2/5: Either there was very little diversity, or all the characters were the same minority (in other words, there was representation but only of one community).
3/5: There was some representation. A book where all or almost all the characters were one minority group might be rated 3/5 too.
4/5: There was diversity in secondary characters or possibly a main character.
5/5: There was great representation in the main character(s) and beyond of all sorts of minorities.
Unclear: The race, religion, sexuality, etc. of the characters was not mentioned or unclear.
This score won’t affect the star rating or my main review. Although representation matters — that’s why I have this section — there could be an amazing thriller with just one character, or a humor book about animals, or a nonfiction book, or a murder mystery about some isolated European monks, where everyone is obviously of the same race, gender, and religion — et cetera. The fact that there aren’t all kinds of people doesn’t make it a bad book in any way. I just thought it might be interesting to pay attention to the representation in all the books in this long list.
Anyway, Fangirl’s representation score is 2/5: Cath writes fan fiction in which the two main characters are gay, but all the main characters are white and straight (clearly mentioned in the book).
Caution: spoilers ahead.
If I described Fangirl in one word, it would be long. The book wasn’t even so long, really — 445 pages — but it was for a sort of rom-com, coming-of-age story. I kept wondering when it was going to end, or was confused that something mentioned in the teaser hadn’t happened yet, only to realized I had two hundred pages left. At last, it seemed like it’d be over, and then the page said SPRING SEMESTER, 2012 — we were only halfway through the year!
Yet I still rated it four stars, because I finished it in less than a week. I couldn’t put it down. As long and sometimes cheesy as it was, the writing was amazing and Rainbow Rowell could probably write an edge-of-your-seat story about a blade of grass.
The pages were riddled with witty jokes and phrases. Many, many times while I was reading I considered compiling a list of my favorite lines, but it got to be way too many.
At first, I was annoyed by how basic it was. Cath goes to college, meaning she won’t see her boyfriend as much. Then she meets a new, handsome guy and bonds with him (Nick, who, if you’ve read the book, you know does not turn out to be quite as great). And as if the timing were perfect, her boyfriend breaks up with her, so of course she will go off with the new guy.
That all happened within the first hundred pages, though. After, things took a different turn and the story got more complicated and unique.
Now that I’ve given a general review, here are a couple small things I wanted to point out.
First, at the beginning Levi and Reagan are introduced as kind of the weird, mean, annoying roommates, so I’m glad Cath ended up really close to both of them.
Since Fangirl is realistic fiction, and is set in a world so parallel to ours, it took a while to get accustomed to the fact that there is another sensational book series much like Harry Potter. (That’s another thing. I felt like the story was so similar to Harry Potter that the author could have been more creative in what new series might change the world.)
In between each chapter, there was an excerpt from either one of the Simon Snow books, from one of Cath (Magicath) and Wren (Wrenegade)’s old online fan fictions, or from Carry On, Simon, Cath’s version of the to-be-released eighth book in the series. At the beginning, I liked how some of the lines from the book matched the lines in between the chapters. However, that unfortunately didn’t happen past the first few chapters.
The writing style was clearly very similar between Rainbow Rowell’s, Cath’s (when writing her fan fiction), and Gemma T. Leslie’s (the fictional author of the Simon Snow series). It would have been cool if there was more of a difference, but it was forgivable because the writing style was great.
Although Fangirl was long, it was a good, simple summer read, and I’m glad I read it. Hopefully I can get access to one of the sooner books on my list, but if not, the next one I’ll be reading is The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins.