Friday, August 29, 2014

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


Synopsis: 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 it 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? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

This book is for every fangirl (and boy) who has ever walked the earth. It is for everyone who has read or written fanfiction and one point in their life. It is for the people who ship their favorite characters together in a book or on a TV show. (Sherlock/John all the way). It is for anyone who has had to explain what shipping is to their less nerdy peers. I am guilty of all of the above. 

I loved this book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it even made me swoon at certain points. I can really relate with Cath; she's bookish and shy and terrified of the future. But what really makes her standout is her love of Simon Snow. (The Simon Snow series is fictional and a reference to the Harry Potter series.) Cath's enthusiasm is so infectious that you almost wish the Simon Snow series was real. There are little snippets of the books and Cath's fanfiction throughout the book and Rainbow Rowell just makes it seem so real. 

Fangirls are often a derided group. We are portrayed as hysterical, obsessive, screaming nutcases with no life outside of our particular fandom. In some cases I suppose that's true. I, personally, would never want one fandom to completely take over my life. Besides I belong to too many fandoms to completely immerse myself in just one: I'm a Potterhead, a Fannibal, a Sherlockian (and a Cumberbitch), as well as a fan of the Hunger Games. (Do Hunger Games fans have a name for themselves? Tributes? That doesn't seem right...)
The point is that enthusiasm for something, especially a girl's enthusiasm for something is regarded as trivial. Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl says the opposite. Fangirls should be proud of what they enjoy in whatever form they enjoy it in whether that's reading or writing fanfiction, cosplaying, making fan art, etc. But it also carries the important message that there is life outside of the fandom and we fangirls should try to enjoy it, too.

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