Review: Fangirl

By Rainbow Rowell
(St. Martin’s Griffin, Hardcover, 9781250030955, September 2013, 448pp.)

The Short of It:

Oddly captivating and yet, slightly disappointing.

The Rest of It:

After loving Eleanor & Park, I HAD to get my hands on another Rowell book and this one just happened to be available from the library.

First off, it’s not Eleanor & Park. Sigh.

Cath and her twin sister Wren, head off to the University of Nebraska. It’s their first semester and they’ve chosen to live apart so they can meet new people and experience new things. This is more Wren’s idea, than Cath’s but Cath has little choice in the matter so she reluctantly goes along with it. The timing is not perfect. Their mother left them long ago, but Cath isn’t sure that they should both be leaving their father at the same time. What will their dad do? How will he get along without them? As it turns out, not all that well.

As Wren surrounds herself with the party scene, Cath has a hard time fitting in. She chooses to stay in when she can, eats more than her share of trail bars and spends nearly every waking moment thinking about the fan fiction she writes based on the Simon Snow novels that she loves. When she falls for her roommate’s ex-boyfriend Levi, her life gets complicated.

As captivating as these characters were, I did not love this one. Too much of the novel was dedicated to Simon Snow. I get that Cath is obsessed with Snow but these parts were my least favorite. I could not get into Snow’s world so every time he came up, I almost immediately tuned out.

Aside from the Snow stuff, I felt that Cath’s pain over losing her mother at such a young age was enough to carry me through. Cath and Wren are both so damaged by the event, but when Wren admits to being in contact with her mother, Cath just can’t believe what she’s hearing. The woman left them at the age of ten. How could Wren welcome her back with open arms? This is really the crux of everything that is wrong with Cath. Her lack of self-esteem, her inability to open up to anyone… all because of her mother’s rejection. It’s heartbreaking.

However, by the end of the story, the characters haven’t grown enough for me to feel that all is well. Perspective has changed and some maturity has taken place, but I never got the feeling that everything that could have been explored, was. This left me a little unsatisfied.

That said, Rowell accurately captures what a first semester away from home feels like and really, that is why I read her. She seems to have a real knack for conveying awkwardness and that is no exception here.

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

17 thoughts on “Review: Fangirl”

  1. Ti, I started the audio of this one after loving Eleanor and Park, and ended up returning it after the first disc. Not to say, it wasn’t for me, but I think it was a timing issue — I’ll try it again down the road. That being said, sorry you were a bit disappointed.

    1. The age of the characters did it for me too. They are in college so all of the angst is a little hard to swallow. I still think Rowell is an amazing writer. I have another novel of hers, Attachments and I am going to use that as my Rowell gauge. LOL. 


    1. I think she is considered a writer of both. She has two books with older characters and then Eleanor and Park but her new book, Landline is centered around adults.  I think her writing appeals to both because the taps into the insecurities that we all face. I think she does better with younger characters though. 


    1. Personally, knowing what you like, I think this one is too juvenile for you. 


  2. Oh that makes me sad! But I know not everyone will love this one the way I did. It has been awhile since I listened, but looking back, I didn’t really care too much about Simon Snow, but I absolutely fell in love with the characters…Wren, the roommate, the boyfriend. It really brought all of it back for me, as I went to college with my very best friend from high school. (Not a good idea.) When the ending credits ran, I wanted to cry that it was over. Very well narrated, by the way.

    1. As always, I listened to some of this too and the audio held my interest more than the print version. The reader sounded  like the same gal from Eleanor and Park. At that age, the “does he like me” stuff wears thin with me. And Levi was kissing that other girl, I immediately wrote him off as not right for Cath. 


    1. Eleanor and Park was a real treat. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  I asked for a copy of her new book, Landline but I haven’t gotten it as of yet. 


  3. I enjoyed this book but still Eleanor & Park is still the best! Have you read The Attachments? That’s a different take from her other books as the characters there are adults. I liked the story as I find it hilarious and romantic.

  4. I was disappointed in this one, too. I just felt like there were too many conflicts flying around when it could’ve been cut back and bit and the really good stuff explored more. I know I am in the minority feeling that way, though.

    1. I know! The stuff with her mother! That could have been explored more, for sure. 


  5. I’ve read E&P and Attachments and loved both. I’m so nervous to read this one because I’m worried my expectations are too high.

    1. It was still good. I just felt the fan fiction piece took something away from it but that is just me. 


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