After hordes of people recommended this book to me, I finally caved in and read it this month, and my main thought throughout my reading was “Why haven’t I read this sooner?” And when a book makes me think that, then I know I’ve found a literary gem. Fangirl is a story about a girl named Cath Avery, who is a college freshman by day and a fan-fiction writer by night, and her struggle to balance her fanfic opus, her college life, and her family relationships. She’s socially awkward and introverted, borderline obsessed with her favorite books (and their characters), and she is one of the realest, most relatable characters I have ever met in a book.
What I Loved:
- Rainbow Rowell’s writing style: I remember reading a pep-talk article on NaNoWriMo last year by Rowell, wherein she discussed her writing process for this book, and how the book took on a life of its own as she wrote it. This is very evident in her writing style, in the sense that this story feels so real and authentic, like you’re reading a movie, yet it’s never cliche or overdone.
- The Characters: I loved pretty much all the characters in this book, which is rare for me. There’s always one character that irks me so much that I wish I could erase them from the book. But even with the not-so-nice characters, Rowell did an amazing job of developing them in a way that made every one of them nuanced and layered and perfect for their role in the story.
- Thought-provoking issues: I’ve never really delved too deep into fan-fiction, having thought that it wasn’t really worth reading. My opinion on fan-fiction was: If I want to read about beloved literary characters, I can just pick up the original books. I also have a deep loathing for any form of plagiarism. So the way this issue was discussed and portrayed in the book really made me think long and hard about my staunch position on it. Is it really as black and white as I thought? Or are there grey areas where a fangirl’s imagination can run wild and, in a way, pay homage to a beloved work of fiction or re-imagine it, without actually plagiarizing anything? If you’re not claiming credit for the conception, but honoring its genius and wanting it to be a part of you and you to be a part of it, albeit indirectly, I understand the beauty in that now. After all, that is the purpose of literature, is it not? To explore our curiosity and imagination? To be inspired and to create? This book actually changed my mind about something and that is huge. And the fact that Rowell includes some of this fan-fiction is awesome.
- Cath Avery: I loved Cath. I love that she has issues and fears. I love that she is awkward and nerdy and quirky. I felt weird in college too. It was overwhelming, and reading this put me right back in there, with the overcrowded cafeterias and the anxiety-inducing pressure of social interaction, but I loved that aspect, too, because it made her relatable. I felt a kinship with her and I wished throughout the book that Cath was a real person with whom I could drink tea and gush over books.
What I Didn’t Like:
- Nothing. There is nothing I did not love about this book. And that’s saying a lot.
I give this book 5 super shiny ★s! If you like books and consider yourself a bookworm, then I would highly recommend this book. Even if you don’t like books (how can you not like books?) and think bookworms are weird, reclusive nerds, I would still highly recommend this book. I firmly believe that any book that can make you reflect on your own beliefs and make you care deeply about its characters is a great book. Rainbow Rowell, you done did good. Literary highfive.