Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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After reading many good reviews of Rowell’s novels I figured it was about time that I gave one a try but I was not as impressed as I thought I would be, as prose didn’t live up to the reviews.

Fangirl is a novel about twins Cather and Wren, we follow Cather [Cath] and her story throughout though. We are brought in at the moment the two girls are going off to college, Wren is excited, Cath is nervous. From that moment on, we see the struggles of adjusting to college life, first loves, a clear social anxiety disorder and a mixture of friendships and fanfiction.

Cath writes fanfiction about a character called Simon Snow, the lead in a series of books and films, the stories she writes are her life’s work up until this point. Her investment in the character is somewhat surreal but here Rowel has portrayed the better and less talked about side of fanfiction, something I’m sure members of all fandoms appreciated. Before each chapter an excerpt from these novels or Cath’s writing is there and as the novel went on, each excerpt became more and more relevant to the feel of the chapter that follows.

The way all this had been researched and put together was impressive, Rowell has managed to write her own novel alongside creating another universe for the Simon Snow books and coming up with novel and fanfiction story excerpts to compliment it. Also, the portrayal of Cath’s clear anxiety, something never mentioned but is obvious, is quite great throughout though it was never really tackled or addressed like I thought it should be.

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However, I was disappointed by the story in most parts. It never really flowed, I could never fully get into the story because it seemed too jumpy and like pieces were stuck together instead of happening naturally. I was uncomfortable with some of the characters and though parts of them were realistic they never seemed fully rounded. That is more about the supporting characters than the likes of Cath and Levi though.

I found this story to be an uninspiring one in many ways, the story of geeky, socially anxious girl falls in love with a guy who she thinks would never notice her has been done many times before. He obviously likes her too but she finds it difficult to believe, another point that has been done to death, so there is nothing new here really.

The story and writing could be better and I found a few grammatical and spelling errors in the novel which didn’t help my reading of it. There are some really good parts to this, like the character of Cath and the research Rowell has done into fantasy novels and fanfiction communities but apart from that, it is an alright novel that is neither offensive nor brilliant.

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