Fangirl – by Rainbow Rowell
Rainbow Rowell’s in the midst of a surge to fame, taking the YA genre by storm. The effects ripple out further than YA, too, with John Green publicly commenting on how much he loved Eleanor & Park. Needless to say, I’ve been meaning to read her work for a while now. I started with Fangirl because even the name is something I identify with!
Cath’s always been the quiet one, overshadowed by her twin sister, Wren. Online, though, it’s a completely different story. Cath’s in love with the world of Simon Snow, a wildly successful series of books and movies about a teen wizard (yes, the echoes of Harry Potter are there for a reason). Like a lot of fans, Cath’s not satisfied with the limited look into Simon’s world she gets in the canon. Writing fanfiction about Simon Snow is a way to stay connected, and Cath and Wren are widely reputed as the best writing duo around.
When the twins go to college, Wren’s looking to break out of the virtual world and experience the ‘real world’; something Cath just can’t understand. Their writing is just as real and just as important as anything happening out there. She keeps posting updates to her fic, feeling more and more involved with her online fans (who number in the thousands), and less connected with Wren than ever. This whole college thing is certainly life changing. But no one mentioned that it can be a change for the worse.
Cath’s got so much in common with not only me, but legions of fans around the world. I don’t know about you, but my brain legitimately works like this:
I’m not kidding. You should have SEEN me watching the third season of Sherlock, recently (TWO YEARS). And please don’t ask how many times I’ve already watched the TFiOS trailer. Or whether I cried every time. HOLY FEELS, BATMAN. If I’m in, I’m all in. I don’t really understand being a casual viewer. What does that even mean?! You could, like, miss an episode and be okay with that?? WHAT MADNESS IS THIS?!
Ahem. Anyway, suffice to say that I fangirl with the best of them. I enjoy fanfiction, too – sometimes there is just not enough of a world you love! Fic is a way to get more of these characters you’ve laughed with, cried with, and loved. Fangirl is completely addictive, especially for anyone who’s been involved in a fandom. I was preoccupied all day at work when I was reading this, snatching time to read just one more page.
Cath’s story is great. Rowell’s another in that new (re-emerging? Newly appreciated?) breed of author, such as John Green and Laurie Halse Anderson who write teenagers and young adults as they are, not as we romanticise or demonise them to be. They’re capable of pettiness, cruelty, neglect and extreme self-centred-ness. And they’re equally capable of wonderful insight into themselves and others, optimism, generosity and resilience. I LOVE reading this kind of fiction, the kind that recognises flaws and strengths in equal measure. Cath’s definitely not perfect. And that’s just perfect.
If you’ve ever had a cry or a yell at a book, lined up for a movie, screamed until you were hoarse at a concert, or stayed up all night to finish your latest TV/movie/book marathon session, you’re going to adore Fangirl.
I’m actually fangirling over Fangirl. Meta, right?! I’ll be reading Eleanor and Park soon, and I’ve been recommended Attachments too. So exciting to discover a new author you love!
Have you read any of Rowell’s work?