This book has received a lot of hype around the book blogosphere of late and it is definitely author Rainbow Rowell’s breakthrough release. Despite it first being published quite a while ago, it has now picked up a lot of praise and many contemporary lovers absolutely adore it. It is definitely a refreshing break from the hard-hitting, emotional dystopian series that teens and young adults are used to. With a beautiful mint green cover and quirky artwork to entice you in, Fangirl really stands out on the shelf and seems to smile at you as soon as you pick it up.
Fangirl is the story of 16-year-old Cath who is off to college alongside her twin sister Wren. Cath and Wren have been inseparable all their lives and together have written fan-fiction inspired by their favourite book and film series Simon Snow, which Rowell has said is based on Harry Potter. Now they are growing up and moving on, Wren is keen to separate herself from her sister and make new friends but Cath remains attached to her Simon Snow fandom and continues to write while battling the usual struggles of college -deadlines, new room mates and romance. However when Wren finds herself in trouble, the twins are reunited and it transpires that their joint love of Simon Snow and each other is undying.
On the whole it is a light-hearted read with plenty to smile about including Cath and Wren’s “emergency Kanye parties” when anything goes wrong for either of them and Reagan, Cath’s room mate is always full of one-liners that make you laugh. Cath herself is an endearing character who often appears to be clinging on to her past life rather than moving into the future. She is outside of her comfort zone at college without her sister and the novel is her coming-of-age story. Her inexperience with boys creates sweet and recognisable situations that a lot of girls in their late teens and early twenties know only too well. She is a believable and likeable girl with a passion and talent for writing and with every page, you are willing her to do well. There are times when she seems too hung up on other things to really push through with her work and this is really frustrating for slightly older readers as you just find yourself shouting “Use your talent as an escape, girl! Life will sort itself out!”.
The romance aspect between Cath and Reagan’s ex Levi is a beautiful thread that runs through the story. He starts out as someone who struggles to read books and through his interest in her and her writing, he becomes sucked into the Simon Snow world and Cath’s interpretation of it. The scenes where she is simply reading her work to him are really powerful because you can feel how Levi is falling deeper in love with her through her words. Their love isn’t superficial or based on anything physical and this is really unique in a teenage relationship. It proves that young love isn’t just for beautiful popular people as teens often believe but that intelligent, bookish teens can also find their perfect boyfriend or girlfriend.
Although Cath does mature and deal with some serious issues in the novel, there is the message that your childhood interests and passions don’t need to be left behind when you grow up. Fangirl tells us that becoming an adult doesn’t mean that you have to give certain things up or distance yourself from friends and family. You should actually hold them closer to you and follow your own dreams whatever they may be without letting the words and wishes of others deter you -a great message for Rowell’s young readers to take away.