My Kyrosmagica Review of FanGirl by Rainbow Rowell
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.
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 fan fiction, 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 on 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 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.
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? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Well, somehow I’ve ended up writing a mega long review so stick with me, I hope you find it interesting and I’m not just wittering on. Why the long review? Rainbow Rowell is an awesome writer that’s why, so here goes:
For me Fan Girl really took off at the point when Levi kisses Cath. Why? Well because those kisses are just so delicious: And nobody had ever kissed Cath like this before. Only Abel had kissed her before, and that was like getting pushed squarely on the mouth and pushing back. 177
Levi’s kisses were all taking. Like he was drawing something out of her with soft little jabs of his chin.
Aren’t these great? Don’t these kisses just want to make you smile?
What about characters?
Rainbow Rowell has this wonderful knack of creating great, believable characters, take Cath’s room mate Reagen:
Cath looked at Reagen. Even without her makeup and hair, the girl was terrifying. There was just no fear in her. No hesitation. Talking to Reagen was like standing in front of an oncoming train. 183
In just a few words Reagen is summed up to a tee. Classic. Whether her characters are male or female Rainbow Rowell manages to get them spot on, she doesn’t use complexities, she just goes about it in a simple but perfect way.
Levi makes everything look easy, even the act of standing up: You didn’t realize how much work everyone else put into holding themselves upright until you saw Levi leaning against a wall. He looked like he was leaning on something even when he wasn’t. He made standing look like vertical lying down. 187
Or Levi Smiling: : ” She (Cath) hated the way he passed out smiles to everyone he met like it didn’t cost him anything, like he’d never run out. He made everything look so easy….”187
Even if he’s kissing girls that he shouldn’t he still makes it looks easy, the devil! : “He made it looks so easy.” 192.
I liked how we see how potent a kiss can be! Oh………
When Levi tells her it was not just a kiss: “Inside, her internal organs were grinding themselves into nervous pulp. Her intestines were gone. Her kidneys were disintegrating. Her stomach was wringing itself out, yanking on her trachea. “267
And how nice it is to make up:
She heard the beginning of a smile in his voice – a fetal smile – and it very nearly killed her. 268.
I loved the little touches of humour that Rainbow Rowell uses too:
She motioned for Cath to sit down, so Cath did. (Apparently, Professoe Piper could control Cath with simple hand gestures. Like the Dog whisperer. 260
If Levi were a dog, he’d be a golden retriever. If he were a game, he’d be Ping-Pong, incessant and bouncing and light. 308
When Levi sees Cath’s room at her dads: Levi says “No seriously. I feel like this room should be preserved so that people of the future know what it was like to be a teenage girl in the twenty-first century.” 321
This one’s a bit of a *****Spoiler***** so look away if you’d like:
After Reagen finds Cath and Levi asleep on the bed together. Cath talks to Reagon voicing her fears that going out with Levi “would be like interspecies dating.” He’s older. He smokes. And he drinks. And he’s probably had sex. I mean, he looks like he has.”183
What else did I like about Fan Girl?
Cath obviously, she’s such a great character. Well I liked the idea that not everyone is super confident, some of us are the exact opposite. Levi is the opposite of Cath. Levi is relaxed, more sure of himself whereas Cath is a bundle of uncertainty, and socialising and parties aren’t exactly an easy option for her. She’s happiest when she’s writing flash fiction, when she’s chatting to her fans on-line, rather than in person. I kind of relate to this! Sometimes on-line you can be somebody else, you can be this super confident person whereas in real life you might not measure up to your on-line persona! Huh, now you know the real me!
Cath’s twin Wren might be super confident but Cath isn’t. Rainbow Rowell tackles the issue of anxiety so well. It is such an important topic so many people are suffering with or have suffered from anxiety issues in the past.
I just love the following line in the book:
Cath talking to Reagen, “you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg.” 184
The other refreshing thing about Fan Girl is Levi’s looks, he’s not your typical male model, but nevertheless Cath finds him so sexy!
Levi’s not exactly a male model in fact Cath’s ex Abel is better looking: Levi was thin and weedy, and his hair – well, his hair – but everything about him made Cath feel loose and immoral. 302
“Levi’s eyebrows were pornographic.” 302
Parents huh, they ain’t all perfect
Not every parent is there for you one hundred percent, some sadly are downright lacking, or stressed, or have all sorts of issues themselves. I’m so glad that Rainbow tackled this parent problem in both Cath’s dad (who is a sympathetic character – no more on that don’t want to spoil the book for you) and Cath’s mum (who is not an appealing character – not to me anyway!) :
Cath’s mum, Laura, bails as soon as she can when Cath’s twin Wren is brought into the hospital for overdrinking.
And then she walked away. Shoulders back, hips swaying. 339.
“I don’t belong here,” she said again. “I won’t intrude like this.” 339
What about the Simon Snow Fan Writing etc
It was ambitious to include these in and amongst the story, some within the chapters themselves and also at the end of chapters. There was a risk that these would possibly distract but on the whole Rainbow Rowell did a great job, and these served a purpose, incorporating these into the story gave you a picture of Cath’s obsession, how she found it so much easier to be at ease with Levi, to relax, if she was reading her Simon Snow fan fic to him. Though, I have to admit I went back over and read them again after I’d finished reading the book taking them in greater detail a second time. So there’s a tip for you unless your brain cells are more fired up than mine which is more than likely I guess, I’m getting a bit more older in the tooth!
So would I recommend Fangirl? I reckon by now you’ll know the answer to that!
Yes, absolutely. Highly recommended, for readers of YA, Contemporary, Teen, Romance Fiction, Mental Health.
****Spoiler below, so look away if you need to! ****:
Fangirl’s last entry is the story Cath wrote as winner of the underclassmen prize. She wrote it even though it looked as if she wouldn’t. Levi’s encouragement spurred her on. It’s an analogy of playing hard and seek with her sister, with the final line “Here I come, ready or not.” So in the end Fangirl has a positive message the geeky girl finally finds her confidence. Go girl!
Thanks for coming by and reading my review, really appreciate it. Please comment, I’d love to hear your opinions too,
Bye for now!
Marje @ Kyrosmagica x
Categories: Book Review