Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Contemporary New Adult with Fantasy Excerpts
Length: 445 pages
Cath and her twin sister, Wren, move away from home to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Until now, they have been inseparable and Cath wants to remain that way. However, Wren insists it is time to become independent, so they have separate roommates in separate dorms. Cath is miserable. Not only does she miss Wren, but she is stuck with a hateful roommate, Reagan, and her boyfriend who is always hanging out. Meanwhile, Wren is partying it up with her own roommate and loving college life, growing farther and farther apart from Cath.
During her freshmen year, Cath learns to live on her own, make a couple of friends, and find her first real boyfriend. She also has to deal with having a father with mental illness living on his own back at home as well as dealing with a mother who is trying to get back into the twins’ lives after leaving them ten years earlier.
Cath does have one activity that brings her great joy. She writes fanfiction for the hugely popular Simon Snow series (think Harry Potter). Unknown to everyone at school, she is a famous author in the fanfiction world, often getting tens of thousands of hits on each chapter she writes.
Between each chapter of Fangirl, we see excerpts from either one of the seven published Simon Snow books or from Cath’s fanfiction, so we slowly get to see the magic world that Cath would prefer to live in.
The book takes place over the course of a school year in 2011-12.
I truly enjoyed the story of Cath discovering herself away from her twin at college. The author did a great job with character development, and I got to know Cath, Wren, Reagan, Levi and her father very well. It portrayed an authentic representation of the unique challenges of college for a small segment of people: the extremely introverted ones who distance themselves rather than participate in the social aspects of school.
What was unique about this book is the author inserted 1-2 page excerpts between each chapter from the Simon Snow series or from the fanfiction that Cath was writing. Each of these excerpts tied in with the chapter that preceded it. I would have liked to analyze each of these pages more. Unfortunately, I tend to plow through books so probably lost a lot of the meaning in those scenes. Also, I don’t love fantasy, so at first they were distracting and I read through them quickly to get back to the main story. I would recommend that you take the time to get to know the Simon Snow characters right from the beginning and you will get much more enjoyment and understand from these pages.
It was also interesting to me to learn more about fanfiction. Although I am a diehard reader, I have never known much about this type of writing.
Although the book is written about girls in their freshmen year (thus New Adult), I believe the content was appropriate for a younger reader as it is much milder than you would find in many YA books. There were references to alcohol, but Cath and her father frowned on drinking, particularly when Wren ended up with alcohol poisoning. Through her sister there were references to sex, but Cath herself only kissed her boyfriend.
I am a member of two book clubs, and we read a variety of genres. Plus, as a Young Adult author, I am constantly reading YA books to improve my writing.
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