Falling Over for “Fangirl”, a book by Rainbow Rowell

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 fanfiction, 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 fanfiction 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?

It’s been a while since I’ve read a young adult book that I’ve enjoyed and one that has spoken to me on so many levels.The greatest thing about this novel is the fact that there is no drama, the clichés you see in almost every young adult book are gone and it is refreshing. It is wonderful to read a book where the characters feel real, they are real, and I think that is what makes Fangirl such a brilliant book.

No matter who you are, I guarantee that you will relate to this book. It doesn’t matter if you are a student going to university for the first time, because  we all suffer from insecurities and doubts at times, starting a new job, moving house, the passing of a loved one,  are major events.  Through the characters Cath, Wren, Levi, Reagan, Nick, Cath’s dad, we see a part of ourselves and how these characters are trying to find out their identity.These characters aren’t one-dimensional, they are people who are bursting with character from the happy-go-lucky Levi, Reagan who is blunt and confident, Self indulgent Wren. They had their own quirks, their own shortcomings , they weren’t perfect. No one is perfect and I was glad to see how Rowell acknowledged this and let the readers know this. I adored the fact that the  background characters weren’t sidelined either, it is a common trope in young adult books that the characters are shoved to the side to make way for the love interest. Another point where the Author was exceptional giving equal attention to all of the characters, each relationship was so cleverly thought out.

I think we have all been there on the first day of term where you don’t know anyone, and everything is awkward. You don’t know what the classes are like, you don’t who your classmates are. The friends you made at high school, aren’t with you on the first day of university. It is scary, being suddenly thrust into a place you know nothing about.  We see all of Cath’s first experiences in this book and I for one relate to them so much, it is unbelievable.

We all worry about life, and I tend to escape by reading, writing, watching television, trying to immerse myself into another character’s life. Sometimes I wonder about if I should interact more with people in real life, if I should put myself out there and do things. It seems safer to curl up with a good book or watch my favourite film, drama than it is to push yourself.   We see this through Cath’s eyes who is awkward, introverted and feels like everyone else is drifting away from her,  we see someone who feels alive when she writes and hides from the world in her fan-fic stories.  I loved how Cath’s fan fiction stories were interspersed throughout the novel and how her barriers seem to disappear when she reads to Levi. The Simon Snow series in ‘Fangirl’ that Cath writes  about  are equivalent to the Harry Potter series in our world, the same kind of phenomenon surrounds them.There has been some suggestions that the characters Colin and Baz in the Simon Snow series  are inspired by Draco and Harry Fan fiction  among fans of the book. What made this novel even better was the fact that the romance between Levi and Cath was unexpected, it was surprising to see Cath and Levi grow from strangers to friends and then become a couple. Usually you see the characters in YA books meet and a page later they are dating.I felt like that cemented their bond and understanding of each other, it felt realistic and made sense in terms of Cath’s journey throughout the book.

What made me keep reading page after page until I had reached the end was the writing. The author has such a gift for writing such witty funny dialogue that seemed so natural and unpretentious. Each word was lovingly used to build up a picture of what the characters were like, the troubles they faced It didn’t feel like the author was trying to ram things down your throat, it was more about what was being said between the lines. I liked how there were hidden clues which alluded to the mood of the characters, you could feel the sadness beneath the funny retorts and fan fiction extracts. I was able to see a little window into the lives of these characters and the subtlety and honesty of life ,which just added to my enjoyment of this novel.

Fangirl is the type of novel which leaves you churned up and feeling like you’ve just seen a snapshot of Cath’s life. You’ve already read the last page, there is  closure, but the story still feels like it is going on. Just like fan fiction, even though  the book or the drama may end, there are endless possibilities  of what might happen next. I like that Rowell has left the ending up to interpretation, it is as if she is telling the reader to write fan fiction about Levi and Cath or the Simon Snow series.

So that the story can continue forever.


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