Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Series: N/A

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Release Date: September 10th 2013


Four Stars

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?

– Blurb courtesy of

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“You don’t have any friends, your sister dumped you, you’re a freak eater…and you’ve got some weird thing about Simon Snow.”
“I object to every single thing you just said.”

I can’t believe it took me so long to read this book. It’s been recommended to me time and time again, my friends have all read and loved it, and it has some brilliant reviews, but it was only recently that I picked up Fangirl and started reading it myself. It very quickly became one of my favourite books, one of the best I’ve read in 2015 and possibly ever. The story was entertaining but it was really the characters and their relationships with one another that shone through for me.

Cath has always had an automatic best friend in her twin sister Wren, but seeing college as a new start Wren decided to gain some independence from her sister; separate rooms, separate dorms, different classes, and a different look, anything to find her own identity. Cath is lost without her sister but she buries it. She is unsure in her new dorm with her new roommate, who seems aloof, so instead Cath buries herself in the Simon Snow fandom.

For Cath Simon Snow is so much more than just a book series; she has read every book, seen every film. She write fan fiction about the characters and has a large and loyal following. Simon Snow is where Cath escapes from her everyday life.

“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”

Reagan, her roommate, soon takes Cath under her wing but amidst the everyday struggles of college and her classes Cath worries about her father. With his two daughters having left home for college he is alone for the first time and while Wren doesn’t seem too bothered Cath can’t help but worry. Add to that her arguments with her sister and her mother’s sudden reappearance in her life Cath is unsure college is the right place for her. But no matter what else happens Cath knows that Levi, Reagan’s boyfriend, is always around and always with a smile for her.

…The Characters

“I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.”

Cath is awkward and unsure of herself. She may be popular online in the Simon Snow fandom but she is unsure of how to deal with people in real life. She tries not to come across as mean but she doesn’t make any effort to make friends in college. She is very reserved and finds it hard to trust people after her mum left when she and Wren were children. Spending her life in her sister’s shadow hasn’t helped; Cath is used to tagging along with Wren, letting her sister burn brighter and taking all the attention.

She didn’t have words for what Levi was. He was a cave painting. He was The Red Balloon. She lifted her heels and pulled him forward until his face was so close, she could look at only one of his eyes at a time. “You’re magic,” she said.

Levi is pretty much the opposite of Cath. He is warm, open, and friendly. He has a smile for everyone he meets and a personality that seems to draw everyone in. Levi is so different from most other YA heroes I’ve read about in other books; he isn’t a jerk or obnoxious with a soft spot for the heroine, instead he is kind. He has a problem reading, as Cath discovers but he is in no way stupid. If anything he just pushes himself harder to succeed. Levi records all his lecturers and asks Reagan to read for him so he can keep up with his work.

The relationship between Cath and Levi is a slow burn. They start off as friends, Cath is sure that Levi is dating her roommate Reagan and that he is kind to everyone so the way he treats her isn’t any special but Levi constantly looks out for her and protects her. He walks her to and from the library late at night, he takes an interest in her fan fiction and asks her to read it to him. He shows her in so many ways that he cares for her.

“Do you think I absorbed all the impact? That when Mom left, it hit my side of the car? Fuck that, Wren. She left you, too.”
“But it didn’t break me. Nothing can break me unless I let it.”
“Do you think Dad let it? Do you think he chose to fall apart when she left?”
“Yes!” Wren was shouting now. “And I think he keeps choosing. I think you both do. You’d rather be broken than move on.”

Cath has a complex relationship with her sister. She has always relied on Wren to be the social one but without her Cath is lost. Wren is determined to separate herself from her sister. She wants to enjoy the college experiences and she is determined to be an adult. The tension and almost resentment between Wren and Cath was brilliantly done. Both of them want something different from each other and from their college experience and at times they cannot see past that. When the twin’s mother reappears, wanting to be part of their lives, it just widens the chasm between the two sisters. Wren is willing to give their mother a chance but Cath can’t forget all the pain and hurt they suffered when she left the first time.

…The Setting

“Why do I write?
To be somewhere else
To get free of ourselves
To stop
To stop being anything or anywhere at all
To disappear.”

Both Cath and Wren’s lives in college were so different to one another but there were parts that were true to everyone’s college experiences. Though Cath, Wren, Levi and Reagan attend the University of Nebraska, Fangirl could be set anywhere in the world; Cath’s struggle with her classes and Wren’s desire for independence are experiences people can connect with their own time at university. Fangirl is a brilliant coming-of-age novel and there is something in it that everyone can relate to.

I would recommend Rainbow Rowell’s work to anyone and everyone. Even though, at the moment, I have only finished Fangirl and Carry On both books were amazing and I have put the rest of Rowell’s young adult books onto my to-read list for 2016.

What did you think of Fangirl? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

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