Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: January 30, 2014
Publisher: Macmillan
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction 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. Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible ...

After reading Eleanor & Park last year (thank you, Judith), I knew that I would have to check out some of Rowell’s other work. While Eleanor & Park wasn’t a favourite read of mine, I did think that Rowell was very talented and some parts of the story struck a chord with me. So when I was offered Fangirl by the publisher, I was happy to accept.


A little known fact about me is that I love college stories, along with stories set in boarding school. I love the fact that there are no parents around, and the characters can get up to all sorts of mischief. I always enjoy reading about the drama, possibly because I never got to go to a school like that myself.


Fangirl started off very well. It took me no time at all to get caught up in the college experience, and I felt an instant connection with Cath, as I suffer from very similar social anxiety. I completely understood what she was going through on that front, and I often found myself nodding along as she was talking about the way she was feeling in these new situations.


Other than Cath, I didn’t feel much of a connection with any of the other characters, aside from maybe Wren. I don’t think the others were fleshed out as much as they could have been, especially Reagan, who I was really looking forward to getting to know. Unfortunately, Reagan and a lot of the other characters stay pretty much the same throughout the book.


At the beginning, I was very intrigued by the Mum Drama. Cath and Wren’s mother left them with their father when they were children, and she has been out of their lives ever since. Until now, when all of a sudden she tries to get back into contact with her daughters. Cath, understandably, doesn’t want to know, but Wren wishes to speak with their mother to get to know her better, which only expands the rift between the twins. I very much enjoyed this drama, although I don’t think it went anywhere in the end. I didn’t get enough of a background story on why their mother left them, and why she was suddenly trying to get back in their lives.


The Mum Drama wasn’t the only thing that wasn’t expanded upon very well. I feel as though Wren and Art’s problems were brushed aside towards the end, and they weren’t wrapped up properly. I would have liked to have seen more resolution with those, rather than have the focus on Cath’s romance with Levi at the end. I think that Rainbow Rowell wrote about these issues very well to start with, but all of the build up fell very flat at the end.


I liked the romance between Cath and Levi, I must admit. They were cute, and I liked how they actually spoke about their feelings rather than keeping it all very hush hush and letting the other person figure it out on their own. Some of their scenes were very cringey, though, especially the one that takes place in Levi’s bedroom. I was trying so hard not to skip past it, because my eyes were rolling and I was getting a lot of secondhand embarrassment.


As you might have guessed, fan fiction plays a vital part in this book. It’s Cath’s hobby, and it basically takes over her life. It reminded me a lot of book blogging in that respect, since Cath was more focussed on her fic than actually studying or turning in assignments. I totally related with her in that respect. I liked the whole fan fiction thing, I think it offered something new to the YA/NA genre, however I did not like how there were giant chunks of fan fiction within the text. Cath would read chapters of it aloud to Levi, and it was awful. It took up so much space and time, and I had to skip these parts because I just didn’t care about Simon and Baz, no matter how many Drarry feels I got.


While Fangirl had its flaws, especially with the development of the side characters and their storylines, I very much enjoyed it. In fact, I liked it a lot more than Eleanor & Park, as I preferred Cath as a main character. I will definitely be checking out Rowell’s adult books, because she is undeniably talented. I just hope that she fleshes out certain aspects better in those.

9 comments on “Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

  1. Susan 13/02/2014 1:47 pm

    I really liked this one as well as ATTACHMENTS, an adult romance that takes place partially through emails. Rowell definitely has a gift for funny, but thoughtful contemporary love stories!

    • Amber (Books of Amber) 14/02/2014 9:06 am

      Oh, THAT’S what Attachments is about! I had been avoiding reading the summary, but I had no idea it took place through emails. I’m suddenly a lot more interested.

  2. Mel@Thedailyprophecy 13/02/2014 5:00 pm

    I can’t wait to try this book, especially because it sounds like the first NA book I’m interested in. Cathy sounds like an easy character to connect with. More people said that they didn’t like the fan fiction parts, but I’m actually curious to see how that works for me.

    • Amber (Books of Amber) 14/02/2014 9:07 am

      I wish more NA was like this because then I would actually be a fan of the genre. Enough with all this first-time-bad-boy-sex and emotional abuse, I want actual college life!

  3. ~Sara @ Just Another Story 13/02/2014 8:13 pm

    I really liked Fangirl. I think I particularly liked it because I absolutely did not like Eleanor and Park. I also skipped the majority of the fanfic chunks- I thought they were boring and took away from the story. I never consider how under developed some of secondary characters were, but thinking back, I totally agree. I also agree that the mum conflict, as well as Art’s mental illness were kind of pushed to the side. Hmm, interesting.

    Thanks for the review, I am glad to see that, overall, you liked this one.

    ~Sara @ Just Another Story

    • Amber (Books of Amber) 14/02/2014 9:08 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed it despite not liking Eleanor & Park! They’re two very different books. And YES, the fan fiction was so jarring at times, I just wanted to read about Cath and what was going on in her life. And, of course, more on Art and the mum because that’s what I was mostly interested in.

  4. Laura T 14/02/2014 11:09 am

    I read Eleanor and Park awhile ago and I loved it so hopefully I can read this one soon! (That’s what I said when it came out *sigh*) I also want to read Attachments and her upcoming book soon though. I have a feeling I’d like Fangirl a lot better since it’s set in this time period. I had a hard time understanding all the references in Eleanor and Park >< I’m glad you liked this one! Loved you review Amber. 😀

  5. Judith 15/02/2014 6:14 pm

    You are welcome.

    Both E&P and Fangirl are not quite favorites of mine, but they are definitely good. I can understand most of your issues, because I felt like the story was getting weaker toward the ending as well. There was a lot of potential but I felt like Rowell left some important things. Especially, I think that Cath’s character development could have been better. Of course, her growth was good, but it wasn’t enough for me.

    My biggest issue was the fanfiction, because while I loved the IDEA of fanfiction, the parts between the chapters didn’t work for me at all. I skipped them, tbh. But I did love the moment towards the end when the Simon Snow story wraps up because HI HARRY POTTER MEMORIES. That made me cry.

  6. Jamie 15/02/2014 6:25 pm

    I loved both E&P and Fangirl…for totally different reasons! I LOVED Cath so much. She was a character I just felt through and through. GOD now I want to reread it. I totally kept putting the fanfiction (a world I don’t know) and book blogging parallels in my head. I think she captured just what it’s like to be part of an online community like that perfectly!

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