Have you ever read a book that was so well written and also had such a great storyline that you lost your mind? I would describe it akin to a hangover. A literary hangover. I tried to read another book last night shortly after finishing Fangirl, and I just couldn’t do it. Just like attempting to eat bacon & eggs after a night on the town, my mind couldn’t handle it. So I texted my little sister and then went to bed.
I’m going to give Fangirl six of five stars. (Yes, you read that correctly. My book reviews have no room for mathematicians.) And here’s why: Rainbow Rowell has written a book that will speak directly into the lives of so many older teens, and she did it really well. This is one of those books where I want to tell everyone I know (and probably strangers too) that they should read this book now.
First, there’s the big picture: the plot. This is the story of Cather during her freshman year at college. Does anyone else remember how terrifying the first week of college was? When you didn’t know your roommate yet and you had to find your way to classes across campus and try to figure out the cafeteria? When you didn’t know if anyone else on the entire 30,000 student campus had similar interests to yours? Cath’s hobby, her life, is in writing fanfiction for a book series that most of her peers have grown out of. (The Simon Snow series are a thinly veiled tip-of-the-hat to the Harry Potter series and its own attendant fandom.) In fact, one could almost say that Rainbow Rowell wrote three books: Fangirl, the Simon Snow series, and Cath’s fanfiction entries.
Second, there’s Rainbow Rowell’s writing style. I lost myself completely in Fangirl. I forgot that I wasn’t Cath and that my sister wasn’t Wren and then I fell in love with Levi…. I was a mess. And I know I’m toeing the line here; I trying not to give away any spoilers! But the writing is absolutely delicious. The way the sentences and paragraphs flow seamlessly; the conversations between characters that are so real; the alternating chapters between “excerpts” from Simon Snow books, Fangirl, and Cath’s fanfiction… If words were food, Rainbow Rowell’s words would be smooth and creamy chocolate.
Third, there’s Cath’s world, Cath’s emotions, and Cath’s relationships. I found myself rooting for Cath right from the start! Being a sister myself, I can say that Cath and Wren’s relationship is very non-fiction. The bond they share is unbreakable and tender. I feel like I’ve had some of the exact same conversations with my own sister! The relationship between Cath and her dad is also really well developed. I felt like I was getting intimate snapshots into their life during the scenes between Cather and her dad. And, finally, the relationships between Cath and *boys.* (I don’t want to give spoilers!) Every conversation that Cath has with a boy took me right back to my own college freshman days and the first timid relationships.
So why did I text my sister after reading Fangirl? Because the relationship that Rainbow Rowell created between Cath and her twin sister Wren was so real and so touching that I just had to contact my own real-life sister to tell her I that loved her! Don’t you love books that move you to actions? Now go read Fangirl!
Six of Five Stars!!