Sash: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – BOOK REVIEW

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Release Date: September 10th, 2013
St. Martin’s Press, 433 Pages
Sub-genre: Contemporary
Source: ARC via BEA 2013
Age Group: Young Adult

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

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?

You know that awkward moment when all your friends (and the rest of the world it seems like) love something and you’re just like – oh, yeah..not really my thing. I feel like this happens to me A LOT with books. The people whose opinions and tastes I respect the most LOVE something – and it makes me sad when I don’t like it. And here’s yet another example – though this one does have a twist – and that is that I can appreciate it and I understand why people love it; it just wasn’t my type of book.

First things first – Rainbow Rowell is a wonderful writer. I adore her writing style but unfortunately the actual content of her books just don’t jive with me (so far!). It happened with Eleanor & Park and now again with Fangirl. While my issues with Eleanor & Park were mostly character-based (please don’t get me started on Eleanor), the main problem I had with Fangirl was that I felt like absolutely nothing happened. There was no plot. Yes, I know that not all books are plot based but there are many character-driven books that I love – Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King, Looking for Alaska by John Green, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – tons of contemporary YA novels aren’t plot-driven – but I felt like things actually happened in them. And, yes, I realize that things happened in this book but I mean that I don’t feel like anything happened in a substantial way – Cath’s moment of realization never really hit me. I found her boring and plain – I would have much rather read about her twin sister, Wren’s college experience. She was a vibrant character – she had spunk. So did Cath’s roommate. So did Levi. Everyone in this book was interesting except Cath.

I will say that I found Cath’s Simon Snow fanfiction to be best part of this book. I would 100% love to read those works of fanfiction. And that’s how I 100% know that I do love Rainbow Rowell’s writing; it’s just that this character and this time in her life didn’t work for me. College isn’t as bland as it seemed in Cath’s world and I couldn’t help but think to myself “That was so not my college experience.”.

I know that there will be a Rainbow Rowell book out there for me one day – (maybe it’s Attachments – tons of people have told me try this one) – but I just haven’t found it yet.

  • September 12, 2013 - 11:23 am

    Pam@YAEscapefromReality - I did love this book, but I completely understand your reaction to Cath. She was so different and in such a way that you want to shake her and say, “Just go to the dining hall already!” She wasn’t interested in meeting new people, she wasn’t even that interested in her classes, she was definitely focused so much on the fanfiction. And you’re right, the other characters in the book were written in such a way that they were much more relatable. It would have been interesting to have alternating chapters between Cath and Wren. I still enjoyed the book and I was rooting for Cath (and Levi). I love slice of life stories, and I think this was a fairly realistic portrayal of college life, although I hated that the extremes were singled out. You’re either a shut in and you never even think about going to a party or you’re a complete wasted party girl who ends up in the hospital. There’s a happy medium that was missing (although you got a little bit of that from Levi and Reagan). I still haven’t read E&P, but I definitely plan to. Sorry you didn’t end up enjoying the book more!ReplyCancel

  • September 12, 2013 - 11:38 am

    Ashley - See, I loved and adored the book because I embraced Cath because I was often Cath in college. Anxiety? Woot! Woot! However, many of my friends have read this and couldn’t relate to Cath at all. So I TOTALLY get where you’re coming from.

    And yes, more fanfiction please.ReplyCancel

  • September 12, 2013 - 9:12 pm

    Sara @ Just Another Story - I actually really liked this one. I think that maybe it was exactly what I needed at the time. I did not like Eleanor and Park though (because I hated Eleanor). I can understand your feelings about how nothing really happened. It’s true, but I guess it worked for me. I wasn’t a huge fan of the fanfic aspect of the novel. I skimmed over the majority of those chapters.

    Thanks for the review, hopefully you will find a Rowell novel that works for you soon.

    Sara @ Just Another StoryReplyCancel

  • October 22, 2013 - 12:00 am

    Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Character Names We Love/Unusual Character Names - […] the book didn’t quite work for Sash, she really liked Levi’s personality and his […]ReplyCancel

  • January 9, 2014 - 8:41 am

    Sash: Expectations and Deviations - Discussion - […] past – I was extra critical; seemingly nitpicking at every little thing. It happened here and here. Expecting too much can make a good book seem like a not-so-good book. Is it the hype? Maybe. I […]ReplyCancel

  • February 21, 2014 - 5:07 am

    Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | Book Review | Hopeful HappinessHopeful Happiness - […] Sash & Em – “Rainbow Rowell is a wonderful writer. I adore her writing style but unfortunately the actual … […]ReplyCancel

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