Friday, September 20, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Release date: September 10, 2013
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 433
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
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?
There are a lot of things I could say about Fangirl. I'm never a big "technical" reviewer, but this review is non-technical to the extreme and much more personal than usual. I'll go ahead and mention that I loved Fangirl--partially because of the ridiculously sweet romance (because, admit it, romance is always a factor!) But I really want to talk about Cath in this review.

I can relate to Cath in a way that I don't relate to a lot of protagonists. No, my mom did not abandon me and no, I don't have a twin sister and no, my dad doesn't have any problems. Nor do I have an all-consuming passion for one fictional world. It's none of those outstanding facts about Cath that make her so close to me. It's instead her reticence, her fear of the unknown of all kinds, her college experience as a whole, really.
In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can't Google.) Like, where does the line start? What food can you take? Where are you supposed to stand, then where are you supposed to sit? Where do you go when you're done, why is everyone watching you?
It's hard to explain in a concise way, but--like many of you, I bet--I am an introvert. That's not to say I'm not friendly and chatty and mostly normal in company, but I shy away from overly social situations and I am fearful of new experiences where I don't know others and I tend to prefer to spend time by myself. How often do we see a protagonist like that? I can't think of any others--because who wants to read about a girl who sits in her room reading all the time? But that's real life for a lot of us, and it doesn't make my life any less exciting and valuable to me.

Not only is Cath deeply introverted--to a point where it's a bit unhealthy, yes--but Fangirl doesn't say that her introversion is wrong. She's not treated as a loser because she wants to write fan fiction. She does come to realize that her fear is unjustified in many cases and that the only way to become familiar with others and with your surroundings is to explore them (things I remind myself of daily), but she's never shamed for it. Never. Cath learns through the course of the book that she's loved the way she is and I can't do anything but applaud Rainbow Rowell for that.
"It's okay if you're crazy," he said softly.
"You don't even know--"
"I don't have to know," he said. "I'm rooting for you."
As I was reading this book, I had lots of thoughts I wanted to talk about, but I also don't want to make this review novel-length itself. I read, rate, and review based on personal feelings and this is what made me love Fangirl. There are actually lots of other things to love, with English major problems, Reagan, Simon and Baz, LEVI, and young adult fiction classes (!!!) as a little sampling. I can't imagine regretting reading this book. Ever.
"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."
(All excerpts taken from egalley and have not been checked against the final book.)

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