Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: Macmillan (St. Martin’s Press imprint)
Genres: contemporary young adult
I read this book in pretty much two days (but the bulk of the reading in one). I’m pretty much completely in love with it. Many great books submerge you in a complex world of the author’s making. In Fangirl, you get not one world, but two.
Fangirl is the story of Cath, a raging Simon Snow fan, and a prolific fanfiction writer with a fan following of her own. She’s also just starting college. Her twin sister is pulling away from her, her roommate is indifferent verging on mean, and Cath can’t help but worry about her slightly unstable dad. She’d much rather live in the world of Simon Snow, where she gets to decide how the story goes.
I was almost as invested in the Simon Snow characters as I was in Cath and her first year of college. It wasn’t just that they reminded me of Harry Potter; they reminded me of all the fandoms I’ve ever been a part of. I’m infinitely disappointed that these books are not already real. I would not be surprised to see a fandom build around this fictional series…already, I’ve spotted some Simon Snow fanfiction out there in the wild of the internet. It’s starting. (seriously, I think this should be a thing)
The main plot of the book was also quite good, don’t worry. It reminded me a little too much of my own first year of college, not so much in the specific details, but in the way Cath saw her world. Sometimes nerdy characters can be a little too timid, but although Cath had her issues, she wasn’t afraid to stand by them. She was who she was, and even if she was sort of self-conscious about it sometimes, she never tried to change who she was.
Rainbow also does a superb way of describing writing, and explaining what makes fanfiction so compelling—and valid. I think Rainbow is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. She has this wonderful way of making her books nerdy, fun, and darker than you see coming. I was especially impressed by how she managed to write in so many voices: Cath’s story, the Simon Snow books, and Cath’s Simon Snow fanfiction. These last two were most impressive because they had to be so subtly different. Cath’s fanfiction was obviously written in the same style and tone as the books, but couldn’t be quite as polished. It was a hard feat to pull off, and Rainbow did it expertly.
This is a must-read for anyone who’s every read or written fanfiction. And a recommended read for everyone else.