“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 fanfiction, 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 o n 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 fanfiction 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? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?”
What I like most about this book is how vastly different it is from Eleanor & Park. It’s not a love story… Well, it’s not just a love story. We actually get two in this book, but the story is bigger than that.
This is Cath’s story about growing up.
Now, I didn’t have expectations when I started reading the book. Wait, that’s not true. I had a bit of expectation. I loved Eleanor & Park, and I was hoping for the same magic when I started reading this book. But, alas, the magic wasn’t the same. But that’s better than getting the exact same story with just the names of characters changed, right?
Cath was neither Eleanor nor Park. She was her own person, flaws and all. Which reminds me–that’s another thing I liked about Fangirl. Author Rainbow Rowell doesn’t shy away from making Cath unlikeable in some of the chapters. Instead of turning her into an dream girl or a blank slate, Rowell shows us, the readers, Cath’s family background instead. She gives us history. So instead of hating on Cath’s unlikeable traits, we understand her instead. We don’t judge.
And we do the same with the other characters. Well, with most of them anyway. Two characters are written to be completely antagonistic, I don’t think Rowell expects anyone to actually like them. But the thing is, we all know people like them. They aren’t just stereotypes or cutout characters…they’re people who populate real life.
I can go on and on about Rowell’s characters. But I won’t. Let’s get to the point–the reason why I wasn’t as happy with Fangirl as I was with Eleanor & Park. The stories didn’t align.
Fangirl isn’t a romance novel. The love story is part of the main story arc, but it’s not the be all and end all. But it runs its course too early, and it starts to feel tacked on in the latter parts, as Rowell wraps up the other story threads.
And, to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t a fan of the love story. I was more invested with the story about the sisters, the dad, and the missing mom… and I thought the love story took up too much space. Rowell writes wonderful family dynamics, and I felt the love story distracted us from the better half of the story, the part where Cath deals with her family issues.
Fangirl‘s premise, of Cath’s fascination with the world of Simon Snow and her resistance in leaving that phase of her life behind, parallels better with the family story. The love story should’ve been just a side show to the main attraction.