Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Published On: September 10, 2013
Published By: St Martin's Griffin
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Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life.
Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate 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.
Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible . . .
Enjoyable, but a little disappointing.
Everyone seems to love this book, so of course I went into it with high expectations. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it and can definitely see why people love it, but it just wasn't as great as I expected. I think the huge hype surrounding it did cause a bit of an issue for me, it didn't live up to it.
Too relatable at times.
The main praise for this book seems to be how relatable it is, which I definitely agree with. Personally, Cath's college experience at the beginning was extremely relatable for me. I had a terrible university experience as being shy and struggling with anxiety meant it was very difficult for me to make friends. What annoyed me was that Cath was given ways to improve her situation but she never helped herself. For example, if someone had invited me to have dinner with them while I was at university, I would have jumped at the chance and been so happy be included in some way. I then found it very frustrating to see Cath turn down the offer but then continue to complain about her lack of friends and difficult college experience.
The characters make this story.
Although Cath annoyed me a lot of the time, I did like her as a character. I could relate to a lot of what she was thinking and enjoyed reading about a character who was a lot like me. The best character though, for me, was Reagan. I absolutely loved her. She is a funny, sassy character and I appreciated the fact that she was more mature than the other characters and seemed to actually act her age. However, I must admit, I was not a huge fan of Levi. I thought he was an OK character, and much preferred him when he wasn't a romantic interest. I was not a fan of the relationship at all, it was too awkward and seemed very unnatural at times.
The fandom aspect was cringey.
I'm sorry, I know this is largely why a lot of people like this book, but I had some real issue with 'fangirl' aspect of this book. I liked Cath's passion for writing but I couldn't completely support the fanfic aspect of the book. I think the Simon Snow parts of the book were enjoyable, but I don't think Cath's writing of fanfic and how that was a part of her life was done well. For example, I can't fathom why anyone would genuinely turn in fanfiction for an assignment, it was immature and stupid and really put me off Cath as a character for a while.
Loved the college setting.
Despite having a poor university/dorm life experience, I absolutely love reading books set in college and specifically in dorms. This book was no exception, I absolutely loved the setting. The scenes set in the dorms reminded me a little of Anna And The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, which obviously added to my enjoyment.
Overall, I liked this book but I didn't love it. I probably would have enjoyed it more if there was such huge hype around it which resulted in me going in with really high expectations. However, I don't think I would have been able to get past me issues with fandom side of things.