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.