I don’t even know where to begin with this review. I can’t imagine how fanfic writers felt reading this story if it gave me so many happy tingles and melt-your-heart-it’s-so-adorable feelings.
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?
I didn’t read the synopsis before I read Fangirl. It was enough for me that the book was written by Rainbow Rowell. I thank Eleanor & Park for that.
Cath and Wren, identical twins from Omaha start college. They are fans of Simon Snow, the hero of a successful fantasy book series and movies, they write Simon Snow fanfiction and they live and breathe his world. Then again, all that should be past tense.
Wren insta-grew-up. She has decided college is her chance to party, date and live college life. It’s easy for her to separate herself from what she and her sister used to be for so long. She immediately (and I mean immediately) starts acting like the stereotypical college party girl and alienates her sister almost completely. Leaving her basically all alone in a new place with new people. Cold turkey. Ouch.
Cath, heartbroken by her sister, a sort of a recluse shy and at times seems agoraphobic, is paired to room with Reagan, a sophomore. Reagan is… scary. She’s quiet (with Cath), she’s almost never in the room, storms in and out, and has her boyfriend Levi with her pretty much 24/7. After a month or so of mutually ignoring each other, Reagan takes Cath under her wing and forces her out of the dorm to the dining room after she discovers most of Cath’s diet is energy snack bars.
“Are you meeting people?”
Yeah, she thought, you people.
“Not intentionally,” she said.
She heard Reagan snort.
Reagan is pretty awesome, though. She’s outspoken and calls it like she sees it. Apparently she likes Cath and wants to expose her to, well, basically – life.
“I have lots of friends,” Cath said
“I never see them.”
“I just got here. Most of my friends went to other schools. Or they’re online. “
“Internet friends don’t count.”
And then when Cath is finally out having lunch with Reagan on a daily basis, they form this weird, yet adorable and rather fun friendship.
“Soccer Sandals finally talked to Venezuelan Lindsay Lohan,” Cath would say.
“Thank God,” Reagan would answer, flopping down onto her bed. “The sexual tension was killing me.”
And they even make fun of Twilight, which had me LOL:
Reagan was sitting at Cath’s desk when Cath woke up.
“Are you wake?”
“Have you been watching me sleep?”
“Yes, Bella. Are you awake?”
Cath is doing very well with school, especially her writing class where she’s pretty much the star student. She’s paired up with Nick, who co-writes assignments with her. Cath is so inexperienced at communicating with other people outside her fanfiction world, she reads more into Nick’s behavior than there actually is. However, in her defense, she’s not fooled for long, and keeps a level head and the right attitude.
And then there’s Levi. Reagan’s boyfriend who isn’t actually her boyfriend at that point in time.
He was tall and thin and tan, and he looked like he’d just taken off a stocking cap, dark blond hair flopping in every direction.
He has a shining personality, he’s so likable and friendly and is always nice to everyone and has a smile on his face, that actually confuses Cath, as well. He is drawn to her, that’s pretty clear to the reader, but not so much to Cath. Up until the point where he needs her help, which leads to an intimate incident, which leads to Cath feeling guilty towards Reagan who has been nothing but nice to her (in her own special Reagan way) and that leads to the discovery they are not actually a couple.
Levi is for lack of a better word – adorable! And is so patient with Cath, it shows just how much he cares for her, and he packs natured humor with that mean swoon:
“If you knew that I wasn’t pushing for that, if that wasn’t even on the horizon, do you think you could relax and just… let me touch you?”
“What kind of touching”? she asked.
“Do you want me to show you on a doll”?
And he stands by her side when there are family crises (like her dad’s manic episode and Wren’s stupid behavior that puts her in a hospital) and he appreciates her for being her so much, I felt like hugging him when he told her all the reasons why he would still like HER more than Wren if he had met her before Cath (or at the same time).
“I like you here,” he said, squeezing her. “With me.”
She smiled, and her eyes started to drift downward.
Back up to his eyes.
“You know that I’m falling in love with you, right?”
How can you now melt?
I loved Ms. Rowell’s words. She wraps them around her characters in the most special way. I felt like a spectator to Cath’s new life, her dealing with the world she was pretty much thrown into and her challenges: social, familial and intimate. I wish this could be a movie so that everyone who doesn’t read books (shame on you people) will get to experience the wonderful that this story puts inside your heart.
I can’t write to save my life, but as an avid reader, yes – fanfiction, too – I felt immersed in the spirit of the world Cath lived in.
However, with fanfiction being what ties the story and the characters together, it is definitely not the point. This is about a girl growing up and growing out of her comfort zone. About her relationship with her father (and mother) and her twin sister (built-in best friend) and how she learns to keep those fixed relationships in her life and create more, and not less valuable relationships outside her core world.
To summarize this book and whether or not you should read it:
That’s a YES, in case you got confused.
About Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow Rowell writes books.
Sometimes she writes about adults (Attachments and Landline).
Sometimes she writes about teenagers (Eleanor & Park and Fangirl).
But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they’re screwing up. And people who fall in love.
When she’s not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.
She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.