Synopsis: Ever since Cath and her twin sister Wren had enrolled in university, Wren has been distancing herself from Cath. She wants to go out, meet new people and have fun while Cath mostly hides in her room and writes fanfiction. She feels safe in her writing where she controls every dialogue and every social situation. Sooner or later, however, Cath will have to come out of hiding and navigate both her social and family life as well as tackle college challenges. Cath faces new experiences, new people and first love even.
What a dragon thinks: Look at me, catching up with the hype only four years late! But I guess I had to read it now that my friend Misty Moonrider of Friedhof der vergessenen Bücher recommended it to me. To be honest, I should have read it AGES ago!!
First things first: I loved this book! Not so much because of the story itself but because of Cath. She is my spirit animal; I used to be just like her in high school. Who am I fooling? I am still just like her. Cath likes situations she can control and people she knows and whom she feels comfortable with. The real world is scary.
‘She wasn’t up for this. She was already overdosing on new and other today. Right now she just wanted to curl up on her strange, squeaky bed and inhale three protein bars.’
I very much enjoyed watching Cath go from being rather timid to peeking out of her shell once in a while, trying to challenge her social anxiety. Throughout the book Cath remains herself; Cath doesn’t become a super popular girl who loves parties which I appreciate a lot.
Cath depends a lot on Wren; they talk about everything and go everywhere together but now Wren wants to be her own person. Cath feels left alone and completely dives into the Wizarding World – pardon – the magical world of Simon Snow. Her fanfiction ‘Carry on, Simon’ is read by thousands of people and in a way it is her life’s work. I could relate a lot to Cath: she is shy, hides from people and is living inside her fandom.
It felt good to be writing in her own room, in her own bed. To get lost in the World of Mages and stay lost. To not hear any voices in her head but Simon’s and Baz’s. Not even her own. This was why Cath worte fic. For these hours when their world supplanted the real world.
There is, however a small thing that bothered me. Not much, just enough to be noticed. Cath is in exactly one fandom. To me that doesn’t seem realistic. Most people are in a ton of fandoms. With me for example, there will always be one or two I am really obsessed with for a few months and then I move on to unhealthily obsess over another fandom. Like, I’ve been in love with LOTR ever since I was eleven and I would run off to live in Middle-Earth in a heartbeat if given the chance. LOTR is still very important to me but right now Doctor Who has resurfaced and I am binge-watching and obsessing over that. I never actually leave a fandom – they all stay with me until I need them again. Just one seems so … lonely.
Throughout the book, at the beginning of every chapter, are snippets of Cath’s fic and excerpts from the original Simon Snow series. I was fascinated just how much those bits read like actual fanfiction. I am not hating on fanfiction here! Far from that! To me fanfiction reads different – not worse! other topic – from ‘published’ fiction. I was really curious about both ‘Carry on, Simon’ and the series itself. But we only get glimpses which was not enough for me. I wanted to read more about Simon and his nemesis Baz, as well as the Insidious Humdrum. So that was the story of how I came into possession of Rowell’s second book ‘Carry On’, which IS Cath’s fanfiction.
I am not going into detail about each character because a) I don’t want to spoil and b) go read that book yourselves! It’s great! But I will talk about Reagan, who is after Cath my favourite character. Why? Reagan could have been a bitchy, nasty roommate but Rowell made her a supportive, confident and actually very kind girl and I love her. No girl on girl hate in this book! Reagan parties a lot and is almost never in their room but she cares about Cath. She wants Cath to go outside, leave her fanfiction for a bit and eat at the cafeteria and find new friends. Even though she doesn’t really understand Cath’s urge to write fic she doesn’t belittle or insult her because of that. She might roll her eyes but in the end Cath is like her weird protégé. Reagan is a – slightly passive aggressive – mother hen. There. Perfect.
‘I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.’
‘I don’t want to be your friend,’ Cath said as sternly as she could. ‘I like that we’re not friends.’
‘Me, too,’ Reagan said. ‘I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.’
What is more, I actually kind of liked the love story? I know, I know, I always go on about how much I dislike love stories but this one was actually cute? It builds up over several months and Cath slowly begins to feel comfortable with the other person (not going to tell you who it is, though :P). There is a lot of talking involved and spending quality time together which is my kind of love story. Slow burn.
Cath’s family arch was well-done, too. Not going into detail but I think family love comes always second in YA novels. For Cath, her family has always priority and I think that is beautiful.
Favourite characters: Cath, Reagan
Conclusion: ‘Fangirl’ has a lovely protagonist whom I could really relate to. Some say that Cath is too shy and too scared of everything. Well, yeah and that is why I love her so much because she is just like me. The characters in general are amiable and I enjoyed both the dialogues and the descriptions. I wanted to read more about ‘Carry On, Simon’. Both the story and the romance were cute and I would totally read ‘Fangirl’ again. Might even write some fic about it. 😉
Details about the book:
- Author: Rainbow Rowell
- Age: 13+
- Pages: 459
- Publishing House: Macmillan
- Date of release: 30.01.2014
- Binding: Paperback
- ISBN: 978-1-4472-6322-7