Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Twins Cather and Wren have been Simon Snow fans since the very first book came out.  More than fans, they both used to write fanfiction, and Cath still does.  In fact, her fanfic is some of the most popular in the entire world.  But now the girls are going to college, and Wren wants everything to be different (starting with not being roommates), and Cath wants everything to stay the same.  But things won't stay the same; things keep changing, and Cath isn't sure if she can make it.

Simon Snow seemed to me a mixture of Harry Potter and Twilight.  It's got the intense, crazy fandom and the massive fanfic network they both have, Harry Potter's magical wizarding world, but with the writing full of descriptions of clenched square jaws and tousled golden hair which is pure Twilight.

I didn't find Cath, our main character, especially likable.  She grew on me, but until I better understood what was going on I just found her sullen and a pain.  She was way past someone who's shy, or a little antisocial, or who's nervous about starting college.  Cath went to extremes to not talk to or interact with people.  Even when they were being nice to her.  Cath was pretty unpleasant to anyone who tried to talk to her.  She had no interest in making new friends, having new experiences or doing anything she hadn't always done before.  She hid in her online world, where she was safe and secure and didn't have to look at or talk to anyone.

After gaining a better understanding of the mental illness that ran in Cath's family, it was clear that, yeah, Cath wasn't just someone who was very shy.  It was actually incredibly hard for her to be with other people, yes, even when they were nice to her.  Actually, especially when they were nice to her.  She responded much better to her roommate Reagan's sarcastic, caustic, personality than Reagan's friend Levi's warm, friendly one.  It was very hard for Cath to believe that someone could see her for what she really was and still like.  And not leave.

Wren dealt with the family's issues in a very different way. When their mother left when they were young, Cath got quieter, while Wren acted out.  Now Cath is withdrawing even more into the world of Simon Snow so she doesn't have to try and adapt to college life, and Wren is drinking herself into oblivion every weekend.

Luckily for Cath, she gets a boyfriend who makes everything better.  Not completely, but kind of.  Cath is on the verge of dropping out of school and moving home to take care of her manic depressive father.  She can't handle the people and the pressure.  She's in a fiction writing class that's asking her to create her own stories, and all she wants to do is be safe inside the world of Simon.  And she and Wren aren't even talking to each other anymore.  Then she realizes Levi really likes her, and suddenly things aren't perhaps as bad as she thought.  Cath still had to solve problems on her own, like what to do about her writing class and figuring out how to repair her relationship with Wren and what to do about the mother who suddenly wants to be in her life.  Levi didn't fix everything.  But Cath definitely was different after starting to date Levi.

I did not like the ending.  The entire book is filled with Simon Snow.  There are big chunks of the fanfic story that Cath wrote in there.  It's all about her need to finish the story, before the final book in the series came out.  And I know at the end there she had a moment when she realized that perhaps it wasn't the most important thing in the world, but we don't even know if she finished her story.  Or if she intends to finish it.  Or what.  I found, after so much time, seriously, SO MUCH TIME, spent on Cath's story, we don't even find out what happens to it.  That was annoying.

A fun read for sure.  College, boy drama, family drama.  I think this is really for adults who grew up with Harry Potter.  I think it's kind of a love letter to them.  Older YA might be in to it as well.

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