Review | Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


TITLE: Fangirl
AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell
PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Press
RELEAE DATE: September 10, 2013
GENRE: Young Adult

Fangirl is the perfect young adult novel for our generation.  Its ideas are both topical and timeless, heartfelt and hilarious.

Identical twins Cath and Wren are starting university.  While Wren is excited to make new friends, introverted Cath is desperate to stay inside her comfort zone.  She is busy writing her fanfiction novel to keep online readers happy, at the cost of a normal social life.  But when family drama and unexpected romance get in the way, she is forced to accept life’s challenges and learn more about herself.

Many readers will relate to the adorable Cath.  She loves escaping to magical worlds and her favourite characters are her closest friends.  Cath’s social anxiety, self-doubt, and pressure to succeed are all parts of being an introvert and student that plenty of young people will recognise.  She is also a passionate writer of fanfiction, through which she can rewrite her favourite books however she wants.  Fangirl not only helps readers to understand the feelings of introverts, but lets us look inside the mystified minds of writers.

Why do I write?  Cath tried to come up with a profound answer – knowing that she wouldn’t speak up, even if she did. 

“To explore new worlds,” someone said.

To explore old ones,” someone else said.  Professor Piper was nodding.

To be somewhere else, Cath thought … Cath imagined herself at her laptop.  She tried to put into words how it felt, what happened when it was good, when it was working, when the words were coming out of her before she knew what they were, bubbling up from her chest, like rhyming, like rapping, like jump-roping, she thought, jumping just before the rope hits your ankles …

“Why do we write fiction?” Professor Piper asked.  

Cath looked down at her notebook. 

To disappear  – page 22

You know how sometimes adult YA writers just don’t ‘get’ us young readers?  I’m used to rolling my eyes at YA characters that sound phoney and stupid.  Not so with Fangirl.  I felt like Rainbow Rowell understood me.  She and I had similar experiences and we saw the world from a similar perspective.  She describes the thoughts and feelings of an introvert and a writer in accurate and authentic detail.  This is what makes Fangirl such a relatable book.

Fangirl is a light read.  My empathy for Cath hooked me quickly, although some readers will appreciate when the pace and tension get better after a few chapters.  This 460 page book is cute, funny, gripping, and simply enjoyable.  I took this book to bed every night and giggled often.  This is a great introduction to Rainbow Rowell’s books.

Fangirl is the perfect novel to relate to the Harry Potter generation.  It themes are especially relevant considering how much of life now takes place online.  It validates so many of the complicated emotions young people experience.  Cath is a loveable spokesperson for introverts and young writers alike.  

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