Book Review · Young Adult

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

‘Fangirl’: What started as a insult is now a badge of honor.

For those who’ve never witnessed the event known as ‘Fangirling’ it’s something like this:

The definition of feelings and excitement that overfloweth ‘til you just don’t know what to do with them!

Since I’m an introvert my fangirling looks more like this:

Other than my general knowledge of the subject, all I knew about the book was that the main character, Cath, is obsessed with Simon Snow, this universe’s faux Harry Potter. For years she has written Fanfiction about the characters and is well known in the fandom.

I was ready for a fun ride and hoping that Rowell would be able to balance both teasing and celebrating this phenomenon.

What I got:

For a book about a Fangirl there wasn’t much Fangirling.

Cath’s love for Simon Snow comes off as an obsession that keeps her from living real life. She’s awkward, quiet, kind of mean to happy people and socially inept. Jesus, she lived off protein bars for a few days because she couldn’t handle going to the cafeteria by herself.  The Simon Snow fan fic has been her crutch ever since a pivotal moment in her childhood.

I get that the first year of college is hard. I went through it twice. When I was a junior I transferred, moved to a different city, and lived in freshman dorms. There were some scenes that I found relatable but honestly this book was such a downer.

Somehow this book had too much and too little at the same time.

In the course of the year she deals with an mentally unstable parent, a jackass parent who tries to come back into her life, a ‘parties too hard’ twin sister, a rude/lovable roommate, her writing getting stolen, and BOYS!

On top of dealing with her obsession with the world of Simon Snow.

And yet… for 430 pages I didn’t feel like much happened. Probably because everything was glazed over due to so many ideas being juggled, which inevitably leads to why I gave the book 2 stars on goodreads.

I think Rowell could have narrowed down the scope and given us some fun scenes about diving head first into a fandom… instead of just awkwardness and angst.

Thankfully, Rowell can write and it’s what kept me going. (Damn you Rainbow Rowell!! You can write your way out of a paper bag.)

I know I’m probably reading the book wrong (what’s new). I probably was expecting something completely different and taking it out on the book. So here are my suggestions:

  1. If you haven’t read any Rainbow Rowell then I suggest Eleanor and Park.
  2. If you love Rainbow Rowell then give Fangirl a try. You might still enjoy it, I just don’t think this is Rowell’s best work.
  3. Don’t be a dummy like me and buy Carry On before you read Fangirl. Carry On is Cath’s fanfic writing in Fangirl (meta).

Score: 4/10


Sidenote: This might be nitpicking but if you have a stand-in for something in your universe, like Simon Snow, then the original shouldn’t also exist in that universe. What made Simon Snow funny is that it was a poor man’s Harry Potter, but then one of the characters mentions Harry Potter!
In what universe would Simon Snow be uber popular with obsessive fans, midnight releases and blockbuster movies if Harry Potter also existed? I just thought this was a real weird choice. Just DON’T mention Harry Potter casually in a sentence. Jeez.


3 thoughts on “Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

  1. Dang. I was really hoping for some love on this one. I’m still going to read it, because I’ve loved every other RR book I’ve read. Plus I’m a sucker for angst, I love angsty books. But I’m kind of disappointed about that HP thing. That seems like something you would think of if he’s like the HP of that world. Strange…

    Did you already read Carry On or do you plan on reading it?


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