Friday, November 15, 2013

#62 (2013/CBR5) "Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl (2013) by Rainbow Rowell is her third book and the third one by her that I've read. In fact, Rowell is on my list of "read everything she writes, no matter what the topic." Rowell's latest book centers around Cath, a young woman from Omaha, Nebraska, leaving her father and home for the first time to attend college in Lincoln. Cath is a strong introvert, also dealing with social anxiety and self esteem problems. Any new situations are challenging, so the upheavel in her life that college represents is very difficult for her. Cath's twin sister, Wren, is also starting college, but instead of sustaining their comforting pairing, Wren wants to break out and meet new people. Cath's life is centered around writing fan fiction for a young adult fantasy series, and it is this that she uses to avoid dealing with her real life. The book follows Cath through her first year of college. Like Rowell's other books, this was a nice, sweet story, with realistic, likable people dealing with their own personal challenges. Cath deals with some heavy problems, including her relationship with her mother and mental illness in her family, but the main focus on the story is Cath growing into her life.

Like Rowell's other books, this one was hard to put down. I read it in a couple of days, completely ignoring my NaNoWriMo obligations, preferring to find out what happens to Cath--wondering if it was ironic (I'm not good with irony) that Rowell had written Fangirl during NaNoWriMo.

I don't want to go on and on about what happens in the story because it's worth reading and you don't need to know anything going in. However, this was my first real exposure to fan fiction, and I found my mind wandering a bit as I read. To start off, every review I've read has said the fantasy series Cath is obsessed with is basically Harry Potter, which sounds about right. However, Rowell mentions Harry Potter in her book as well, making her world a world with two wildly popular, magical, teenage fantasy series. It's hard to imagine such a thing. Also, I know there are tons of exuberant fans of Harry Potter, but is there this kind of fanfic surrounding the story? Are people on the internet hooking Harry up with Draco Malfoy? Or would they hook him up with Ron Weasley? I'm almost curious enough to look, but I'm afraid once I go down that rabbit hole there's no going back and I want to remember Harry as J.K. Rowling wrote him.

Although I loved this book and would enjoy reading it again, I did find Levi a little too perfect. Sure, he kisses another girl after he kisses Cath but that's about it. Levi is nice to everyone, he's smart, he's caring, he's good looking, and persistent as he pursues Cath. How many college girls can sit in their dorm rooms, interacting with no one and then the perfect guy shows up and tenaciously breaks down all her barriers through months of disinterest and/or hostility. That just doesn't happen, at least in my world. As real as most of the character's felt, Levi seemed like he was straight out of a romance novel. The relationship in Eleanor & Park felt much more balanced.

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Yes, there really are people hooking Harry up with Malfoy, and Malfoy up with Ginny and Hermione, and Harry hooking up with the giant squid and any number of other combinations you could possibly think of. A favorite is Sirius/Remus. Harry Potter fanfic is the second largest fanfic community on the internet, I believe, after Twilight. I try to stay away from fanfic based on books, though, so I haven't read much of it at all.