Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
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?
Or will she just go on living inside somebody else’s fiction?
This may come as a jaw-dropping shock to you, but here goes: my name is Jessica and I am a fangirl. (Hi, Jessica.) It’s true. When I am into something like a book or TV show or fandom, I want to know all the details. I want to understand the inside jokes. I want to gush and giggle and show my unabashed love like the proud nerd that I am. Of course, when I heard Rainbow Rowell’s new book Fangirl was about, well, a fangirl, I knew I would love it. What I didn’t know was just how hard it would hit me. I won’t be the first (or the last) to make this statement, but I am a fangirl for Fangirl.
First, I’ve got to ask—why aren’t there more books about the first year of college? That is the weirdest and best/worst year. It’s ripe with coming of age drama! I related to Cath in so many ways—her anxiety about fitting in, her wish that there were instructions for how to go through the line at the dining hall, that odd transition from high school girl to college… girl. Honestly, if it hadn’t been for marching band and the world’s best roommate, I would’ve eaten protein bars in my room for a month just like Cath. I’m thankful that Rainbow tackled this crazy time, and she absolutely got it all right. Maybe there are books about freshman year, but they’re just not as perfectly on the money like this one is.
And speaking of Rainbow, she certainly has a talent for characterization. (IMO, she has a talent for everything, but I digress!). I love how people-like these characters are. They aren’t cookie cutter placeholders that blend one into another. You can imagine their faces in your mind so clearly, even without explicit physical details. Everyone practically leaps right off the page and into your mind like they’re all having an Emergency Kanye Party in your brain room. The standouts are Cath (of course) and Levi. Cath is like a slightly more functional and entirely more realistic Liz Lemon, and Levi is essentially incomparable. Merlin’s beard, is he incomparable.
I’ve got to mention the FANFICTION. Cath writes fanfic about story-within-the-story fantasy character Simon Snow called Carry On, Simon, and we are treated to pieces of fanfic AND “original” Simon Snow words. It's like Harry Potter and Twilight combined into a magical, vampiric omelet with three kinds of cheese. It’s incredible. As a member of the Harry Potter fandom for over a decade now, I couldn’t help but see the similarities between the fandoms. I hope Cath and Wren know
Watford will always be there to welcome them home.