Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

December 10, 2013 Review 60 ★★★★★

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Source: Borrowed
Pages: 433
Release Date: September 10th, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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?

After waking up each morning and being relentlessly badgered by my co-blogger, Bec, I decided to finally (as she would say) read FANGIRL. I wasn’t the biggest fan of ELEANOR & PARK due to the open ending and language, but FANGIRL was different. I daresay it might be my favorite contemporary of all time. This is one to savor, but if you are like me, you will fly through this novel.

“Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision.”

FANGIRL revolves around Cath, and her first year of college away from her father and twin sister. Cath is used to things being the same, and the change of college without her sister being by her side is a wake-up call. She begins to avoid certain situations, makes no effort to make new friends, and prefers the safety of her own room. But gradually, Cath grows. Grows out of her shell, and grows into herself.

All of us are Cath, or at least some piece of her. We have all experienced the feeling of hopelessness, of being alone in a completely new world, of fearing new challenges, and Rowell lets us travel with Cath through her journey, perfectly telling the story of her coming of age that will remind us of our lives during this period, or perhaps take a little fear away of your first year at college.

Besides our protagonist Cath, there was a wide cast of other characters that came into the story and left something special. Rowell has a knack for writing fantastically believable, realistic characters. Cath makes unlikely friends with her roomate, Reagan and Reagan’s boyfriend, Levi-two of my favorite characters in this book. The dynamic between this trio was amazing, they had humor, they had loyalty, and it was a great experience to see how they all grew not only together, but separately.

The romance between characters developed like a true romance should: slowly, with the foundation being friendship, not lust.

“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”

It’s a heartwarming romance, but it is also realistic and gives us hope. If love could happen to Cath, it could happen to any of us. Who doesn’t want someone to always be there for them and listen why you read them your writing? Never criticizing, always caring.

Overall, FANGIRL was a truly magnificent contemporary novel that I can not express my love for enough. Even if you were not a fan of ELEANOR & PARK, you need to check this one out.

Rating Report
Overall: 4.8

60 Responses to “Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell”

    • Alise

      I know what you mean exactly, I put them off or don’t read them at all but I can definitely say this is worth a read. Thanks!

    • Alise

      Don’t worry, I’ve felt like that plenty of times! And especially don’t fear the hype, I always do that and had super high doubts about this book but my expectations were 100% met-it was great.

  1. Andrea


    I like that you put it delicately that she grew, as if she did it on her on. Which, I mean, she did. But she did get a swift kick in the butt when Reagan adopted her. I think Rowell did a nice job of showing two extremes of your first year at college: Cath, who stays in her room and doesn’t make an effort to make new friends and Wren, who parties a little too hard all the time. Also, making them twins was a nice touch.

    Also, the fact that it was a slow romance was fabulous. It’s unlike your typical NA novel so I was extremely excited for the foundation to be built before we dove into any sort of romantic relationship.
    Andrea recently posted…Bitches of Brooklyn by Rosemary Harris [CLP Blog Tour]

    • Alise

      Very, very true. Reagan so brought her out of her shell. I didn’t like the twin thing at first but then I realized how symbolic it could be, like you mentioned.

      YES, exactly. It was so realistic that way.

  2. Rosa

    Sounds like a great book. I can totally relate to Cat – going into college in your own and becoming independent is definitively a challenge. But it was a great time in my life :)
    Rosa recently posted…Great book deals #1

  3. Andreea

    Awesome review! I have this on my wish list. If I don’t get a review copy of this book I will buy it soon.

    I tried to read a few pages of E&P, but gave up on it. Still, I want to read this one as it sounds very different.

    • Alise

      Thanks, it was a great read!

      I would not worry at all-I really disliked E&P because the language, but Fangirl is almost like a different author wrote it. No mature content.

  4. Vyki @ On The Shelf

    I really loved this one, too! Cath is so relatable, and you can easily see some part of yourself in her. The whole book is so real and what makes it even more real, is that everybody has some kind of true to life flaw. Such a wonderful, wonderful book! Great review :-)
    Vyki @ On The Shelf recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday (50)

  5. Nova Lee @ Musings of a Blogder

    So glad that you loved Fangirl! I feel like its something that usbook bloggers can easily connect to considering that we’ve all fangirled over some author. I haven’t read this book yet, but I’ve heard mixed reviews and now that I’ve read your review, I’m going to go read it… later.

    LOVELY review!

    – Nova
    Nova Lee @ Musings of a Blogder recently posted…Song Review: Wake Me Up – Avicii

    • Alise

      Exactly! Although I wouldn’t say I like fanfiction as much as Cath, I can definitely relate to her growing up and going to college experience! Aha xD

    • Alise

      I feel you, when I finished I was like “this is IMPOSSIBLE to write a review for!” Let me know if you ever get around to posting that review!

  6. Lauren

    I’m so glad she convinced you to read Fangirl and that you love it! It’s one of my favorite reads of the year. I couldn’t agree with your lovely review more, thanks for sharing! :-)

  7. Charlotte

    I am happy to know that you loved this one, Alise. Sadly, it didn’t work for me. I had an issue with all of the characters especially Wren and their mother. And then I also have a problem with the romance. It was too light for my taste I suppose.

    Anyway, to each our own. Great review, Alise. :D
    Charlotte recently posted…Book Review: Scarlet

  8. Tanja

    You know that moment when you know that you’re gonna to love a book but you avoid to read it as much as you can. I have that relationship with this book. I’m sure I’ll adore it but somehow I never get around to read it. I’m so happy you loved it. Great review :)
    Tanja recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (#74)

  9. Tilly @ Hardcore Heroines

    Glad you enjoyed this one! I started Eleanor and Park but stopped before it got interesting because I wasn’t a major fan. I will pick it up again so I can truly judge, but it’s nice to know that you enjoyed Fangirl more.
    I think I’ll be able to relate to Cath, but Contemporary is not my favourite genre, so we’ll see.
    I hear so much about it, and it’s on my Christmas list, so hopefully I can read it over the Christmas holidays!

    Great review Alise!
    Tilly @ Hardcore Heroines recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday

    • Alise

      Contemporary is a hit or miss for me as well, so it was even more special to me :D
      Yeah, I hope you get it :)


  10. Cait

    Eeek! I SO want to read this one! But I have yet to find (beg or borrow is optional too) myself a copy. I’ve heard raving things about it…except for one review that was annoyed about the HP fandom take off? I’m not really in the HP fandom, but I’m wary of anything that “borrows” too liberally. Still! The cover is also awesome.

    • Alise

      BAHA, I tried to beg myself a copy too xD Eventually I just borrowed one but now I will be buying a copy for sure :) I think that person was just peeved that the Simon Snow fanfiction in this book was kind of similar to the Harry Potter fanfiction in the real world, but that was not a major issue, at all. I think the author may have even done that on purpose, I have no idea. I agree!

  11. Neysa Kristanti

    I really loves Rainbow Rowell’s previous Book E&P. Can’t wait to try this one also! And when you said it had a heartwarming romance yet realistic story, I’m so officially sold :D
    Love that you pointed out that the love was not base of lust, which I seemingly would love since those kiss-every-moment kind of love kinda annoy me .__.
    Nice review, Alise!

    Neysa @ [B.O.O.K.L.I.F.E]
    Neysa Kristanti recently posted…Tour : Spotlight + Giveaway : The Cutting Room Floor by Dawn Klehr

  12. Sunny

    I haven’t read E&P, but I think that’s a good thing, especially not reading before FANGIRL, since most people are hit and miss with that one. I am THRILLED that you loved this one sine you weren’t a NA fan. I’m not a NA fan either, but adored it as well. Great review, Alise!

  13. Chantelle

    I’m really glad you loved this one!!! I love how all RR’s novels have a different tone, so even though you didn’t enjoy E&P you liked Fangirl. I have to agree with you as well, as much as I wanted to savour the genius of everything that is Fangirl, and especially the metafiction of Simon and Bas, I flew through it and finished it so quickly. Great review :)
    Chantelle recently posted…Review: How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You by Tara Eglington

  14. A Canadian Girl

    Just came back from my blogging break!

    I loved this one too. Levi and Reagan were awesome secondary characters and the romance was just so well written. I read Eleanor and Park after and sadly didn’t like it as much :(

  15. aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

    I love Fangirl. I loved it more Eleanor and Park, I appreciate Eleanor and Park but that story was a little too dark for my taste, I love how honest Fangirl is but how it’s still a light story. I mean there are some darker aspects and heavy topics, but I love it. I totally agree with you though, there’s a piece of Cath in me.
    aly @ My Heart Hearts Books recently posted…Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2013

  16. Amelia

    I saw this is the bookshop the other day and because it didn’t fit into the dystopia/romance genre I didn’t take one second glance at it but this review has definitely made me want to read it (that’s another one added to my list!!!)
    Amelia recently posted…Insurgent by Veronica Roth-Review

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