The first time I saw Fangirl was in my local bookstore (now sadly closed) as I was perusing the racks of young adult novels. Just the title stood out to me. When I read the summary, I was suddenly propelled back into my college years, when I wrote a lot of Lord of the Rings fanfiction. A LOT. I didn’t read Fangirl right away, but I came back to it about a year later.
The story follows Cath, a freshman in college living on her own for the first time away from her single father and twin sister. Cath’s sister, Wren, is outgoing and friendly but Cath is a little more introverted. She spends a good deal of her free time writing Simon Snow fanfiction (Rowell’s equivalent of Harry Potter, I assume). Cath initially cowrote fanfiction with her sister, but Wren has since moved away from the Simon Snow fandom. This leaves Cath feeling a little abandoned. She has a lot of fans online, but not a friends in real life. But she soon warms to Reagan, her roommate, and Levi, who initially is introduced as Reagan’s on again, off again boyfriend. Cath starts to realize that there’s more to life than fanfiction (but she doesn’t give that up in the end).
Fangirl is a growing up story that I relate to a lot. Though I didn’t live Cath’s life, I lived a lot of her experiences. I spent a good amount of time reading this novel and thinking “I remember doing that” or “OMG I did that!” It was a great nostalgia read and seems to follow Rowell’s lightheaded story telling. (Admittedly I haven’t read any of Rowell’s other books, but Eleanor and Park is on my list.) I found it a little slow at times and struggled to pick it up again once I had put it down. I’m not sure that I would read this one again but it was still nice for the nostalgia.
Since I originally borrowed Fangirl from the library, I didn’t actually have a copy. Recently I was perusing the book aisles of Target and happened upon an exclusive collector’s edition. What made it exclusive? Fan art of Fangirl.
Both front and back covers sport 4 different fan art illustrations of either Cath and Levi, Cath with Simon and Baz, Simon and Baz, or Cath with Levi and Regan. My favorite is the front covers, as you can see above.
My rating: 4/5