Monday, 1 September 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl (2013) (Macmillan Children's Books)
Rainbow Rowell
Grade: A
Genre: young adult
Source: own
YA Reading Book Challenge 2014: A book with a break-up 

Identical twins Cath and Wren are off to college and to date, have been inseparable. The pair now possess very different ideas about how they want to approach this next chapter in their lives. Wren is looking to use her newfound freedom to meet boys, party and basically let loose. Cath is the shy twin and wants everything to stay the same; she’s more than content to sit in her room writing fanfiction and doing homework, eating cereal bars and ignoring her roommate Reagan and Reagan’s boyfriend Levi. 

Wren is loving college life but Cath isn’t nearly as popular, outgoing or sociable. Like the rest of the world, Cath is a huge Simon Snow fan, eagerly awaiting the release of Simon Snow and the Eight Dance which will finally bring Gemma T. Leslie’s epic magical world to a close. Unlike other fans, Cath is able to boast that she’s one of the most popular Simon Snow fanfiction writers on the internet. Carry On, Simon is receiving tens of thousands of hits per day with her fans hanging onto her every word with religious fervour as the release date of Simon Snow and the Eighth Dance looms nearer and Cath races to bring Carry On, Simon to a simultaneous close.

Despite her hermit-like state, Cath soon has three guys vying for her attention: her old high-school boyfriend Abel, her writing partner Nick and forbidden-fruit Levi. Regardless, Cath only has eyes for Simon and his enemy/sometimes ally Baz as she fights to finish her life’s work. What Cath doesn’t realise is that while she’s been spending hours in her fictional world, she’s been missing a wealth of opportunities to learn more about love and friendship than she could have ever imagined …

I bought this book at the airport in Thailand when I was running out of reading material, and a very good choice it was. I’d heard of Ms Rowell’s success with her debut work, Eleanor & Park, but haven’t got the chance to read it yet. Thus, I have no idea how it compares with Fangirl, but if the latter is anything to go by, I have very high hopes for E&P and her latest novel, Landline.

I used to be a great fan of fanfiction in my early teens (Meg Cabot-based, mainly) but phased out of reading it mainly because I had no time. Rainbow Rowell makes me want to start reading fanfiction again. I never thought that reading about someone writing fanfiction about a fictional series would be so interesting, but it really was. Cath is the Queen of Simon Snow fanfiction and it was fantastic to read excerpts of Gemma T. Leslie’s Simon Snow as well as Cath’s own Carry On, Simon fanfiction. This has been Cath’s life’s work for the past two years and as the publication date for the last Simon Snow novel looms ever-closer, Cath and Wren (the story behind their names is hilarious) are brought ever closer once more, making me wish once again that I was an identical twin. Their passion for this series is unbelievable and makes my own professed love for some series pale in comparison.

Fangirl is definitely on my Best of 2014 list; the only question now is whether Eleanor & Park and Landline will join Fangirl on that list. I can relate to Cath on a number of levels (though I hope I wasn’t nearly as shy when I started uni!) and that makes the book that bit more special. I wasn’t crazy about Levi personally, but I can see the attraction and the pair have some really cute moments together. The fanart that has been created for this novel is breathtaking – take a look on Pinterest for a snapshot. If that’s not a testament to how great this book is, I don’t know what is.

Image courtesy of Wordery.

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