Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell Review

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What is it? The answer to every fanfic-writing, slash-shipping Tumblr user’s desires, that’s what this is. ‘Fangirl’ is a coming-of-age novel following twins Cath and Wren as they move away to college. Wren is keen to throw herself into university life – parties, boys, drinking, the lot – while Cath would rather stay in her room updating her renowned fanfiction Carry On, Simon, thank you very much. It’s a story about love: the love between siblings; first gooey, mushy love; but overall, a love of fanfiction.

Why did I pick it up? Throughout my whole teenage life, I was Cath. (I read my first fanfiction at the tender age of 14 in which I had to literally take breaks to giggle because it was so smutty). Not only that, I was feeling a little bit low on Monday afternoon and fancied treating myself to something fun and easy-going to read – next thing I know I’m walking out of WH Smith’s £7.99 lighter with this in my hands.

What was good about it? I got out of Fangirl exactly what I expected. It was such an easy, fun read that I finished it in two days (bit of a rarity for me – I’m such a slow reader!). The lineup of characters are endearing and believable – I saw bits of myself in both Cath and Wren when I look back at my own university experience, and I totally fell for Levi’s charm.

I can’t praise Rainbow Rowell enough for capturing and documenting the quite unique lifestyle of a millenial in the ‘Tumblr generation’ – as far as I’m aware there’s no YA novel out currently that confronts the fanfiction phenomena so directly and turns all the negative stigma surrounding an adolescence on the Internet on its head. Cath isn’t embarrassed or ashamed of her passions, which was a breath of fresh air – all my teenage experience of fandom was kept under wraps to 99% of the outside world for fear of being ridiculed.

What wasn’t so good about it? The lengthy excerpts of Cath’s fanfic Carry On, Simon. I get that they were essential in moving Cath’s character development forward, but personally I’ve never been able to read fanfiction of a pairing that I’m not already invested in, so to have snippets of Simon and Baz’s story featured so heavily in Fangirl turned into a bit of a chore for me to get through. I even found myself skipping through some of the longer parts. I was much more focused on Cath’s journey than her fictional characters’, as she was the protagonist we were getting to know!

(Plus, reading your fanfic to a potential boyfriend? Cringe. Cringe cringe cringe. I imagined myself doing the same and the secondhand embarrassment was off the charts.)

Overall Rating: 4/5. A lighthearted, easygoing, relatable must-read if you’ve ever so much as dabbled in fandom.

Until next time,

Emma x

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