So I may have set the bar high when I decided I’d read some fluffy books in February, on top of the other things I’ve decided to read. I mean, I should have expected I’d like Fangirl considering Carry On was a personal favorite last year.
But I didn’t just like Fangirl. I frelling loved it.
by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin’s Press, 2013
Rated: / 5 cookies
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 fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let 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 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.
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? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Because this is only my second Rainbow Rowell novel, I can only compare her writing style as I’ve seen them on both Fangirl and Carry On. Which is to say that Rowell’s strengths lie in her characters and her dialogue. I could read her character conversations all day, and the best part about the two books I’ve read were that for the most part, when the characters were NOT involving themselves in amusing discourse, they were snogging the hell out of each other. I mean, come on. That’s bloody fluff right there, and I would not have it any other way.
So strengths aside, the only thing I did find missing–which I brought up in my Carry On review–was a solid plot. Fangirl is supposed to be a coming-of-age story, and it definitely reads that way. All the same, while Rowell had tried to fiddle with plot in Carry On, I saw the one in Fangirl meander to so many different things. The book itself just felt like a slice-of-life novel about a nerd finding romance in college.
Granted, Cath is a truly relatable girl, and at the end of the day, I still loved the book to pieces.
The Things I Loved in Fangirl via Quotes
“Why are you reading that?” Wren had asked when she noticed.
“Something without a dragon or an elf on the cover.”
“I’m branching out.”
“Shh,” Wren said, covering the ears on the movie poster above her bed. “Baz will hear you.”
“Baz is secure in our relationship,” Cath had said, smiling despite herself.
The fact that the story itself reads like my life and thensome. From the getgo, the argument Cath and Wren get into only reminded me of the conversations my sister and I get into about the nerdy aspects of our life (and we’re both pretty much nerds, so…). On top of that, by the time Cath gets into her college life as a freshman, it was like stepping straight into my freshman year in college. While I wasn’t as introverted as Cath (which is a surprise, considering how shy I was in high school), I certainly found her endearing and relatable.
They’d walked back to the fortress like that, hand in hand. And it would have been okay–it would have been mostly okay–if one of them had just let go.
If they hadn’t stood there on the edge of the Great Lawn, holding this little bit of each other, long after the danger had passed.
Simon Snow and the World of Mages. So the novel kind of plays on the whole Harry Potter phenomenon, only in Fangirl’s case, the phenomenon is attributed to the fictional Simon Snow and his mage friends, penned by an equally fictional Gemma T. Leslie. The book itself often reminds us of how much of an impact the Simon Snow series has on Cath, and excerpts of both the “canon” and Cath’s fanfiction are inserted in between chapters. This pretty much had be hooked, and at the beginning, it was my familiarity with Baz and Simon in Carry On that made me look forward to the fanfiction more than I had the beginning of the actual chapters. I mean, this changed much later on, but all the same, I loved the snippets.
“Hey, Levi. Um, how are you?”
“Fine. I’m just…working.”
“Do you usually answer your phone at work?”
“Oh. Well, um, later when you get off, is there any chance you could drive me to Omaha? I know it’s a big hassle, and I’ll give you gas money. It’s just, sort of, a family emergency.”
“I’ll come get you now. Give me fifteen.”
“No. Levi, it can wait, if you’re at work.”
“Is it a family emergency?”
“Yeah,” she said quietly.
“See you in fifteen.”
BECAUSE LEVI IS JUST…JUST. Honestly, tall, lanky college student with an almost eidetic memory, a mega-watt smile, and the gentlemanly outlook on life; what is NOT to love? It pretty much just killed me every time he did something adorkable throughout the book. And I quickly forgave him for his idiocy in one particular chapter a couple minutes later. Where “a couple of minutes” equated to me stewing for a chapter or two until he’d apologized to Cath.
Their dad watched Simon Snow and the Fifth Blade with them, with a notebook on his lap.
“I’ve lived with you two for too long,” he said, sketching a big bowl of Gravioli. “I went to see the new X-Men movie with Kelly, and I was convinced the whole time that Professor X and Magneto were in love.”
“Well, obviously,” Wren said.
There is no end to the bromance. Admittedly, I loved the end result of Carry On much better than any of the fanfic excerpts in Fangirl, but all the same, I pretty much lapped up every bit of Magicath fanfic in the book. They were fanfics of a fanfic, and I seriously cannot get enough of my Snowbaz ship right now. This bromance ship can keep on sailing for all I care, and I wouldn’t get tired of it.
“That it wasn’t just a kiss, Cather. There was no just.”
“So?” Her voice sounded much cooler than she felt. Inside, her internal organs were grinding themselves into nervous pulp. Her intestines were gone. Her kidneys were disintegrating. Her stomach was wringing itself out, yanking on her trachea.
“So…aahhggch,” Levi said, frustrated, running both hands through his hair.
There are seriously a lot of major quotable descriptions here. I’m not sure whether I laughed more or wept more in the story. Probably more laughing, to be honest. The descriptions Cath used in her inner mind theatre and the shit people say in the book just killed me entirely.
“I know.” Reagan shook her head. “But you’re so helpless sometimes. It’s like watching a kitten with its head trapped in a Kleenex box.”
Like Reagan. Reagan is the mothereffing bees’ knees.
So yeah. I think I finished this book just as quickly as I did Carry On. And I enjoyed it immensely. But now I want to re-read Carry On, which is kind of dangerous, considering I really need to get back to reading other things. Urgh.
5 out of 5 cookies!