Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
or: The Book That I Fell in Love With on the First Page
You know how sometimes you open up a book on the first page and just simply know?
It’s a rare magical unicorn of a book, but Fangirl had me hooked right from the beginning.
I started off my reading quest for 2015 with perhaps one of the most delightful books I have had the privilege to read. I needed something to read on the train on Boxing Day and started this book. Sure, I technically started this book pre-2015, but I finished it on January 6th after trying to ration out the book so I wouldn’t rush through it.
This was a Christmas present from my mum, who had been rather bemused when she ended up giving it to me. “Where did you see this book again Ashleigh?” she had asked, as I sat stroking the mint green cover with admiration. “Online,” I had replied, not quite confident enough to tell my mum I had seen glowing praise for it on Tumblr and decided that I had to have it.
It’s rare that you can truly empathise with a character; the sense of belonging that you rarely find with a character so similar to you is a gift, and that’s the feeling I got when Rowell introduced Cath. Rowell understood the magical world of being a fan girl more than any other adult I had come across. She didn’t present cath as a mockery; she presented Cath as a human being who had a perfectly justifiable obsession with her pop culture of choice and that means more than you can imagine.
Cath’s a fan fiction writer for her beloved Simon Snow books, which have a startling similarity to J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but are different enough that you can appreciate the respectful nod Rowell gives to Rowling. Rowell successfully navigates the tricky but addictive world of fan fiction and its so easy to see Rowell as one of ‘us’ that its shocking. “Carry on”, which is woven throughout the novel and runs perpendicular to Cath’s real life, is an integral part to the story and the reader becomes as invested in this fan fiction as if they were Cath’s readers.
I was overjoyed to discover that Rowell intends on publishing Carry On as it’s own book later this year.
There was not one character in this book that I hated which is rare, especially in YA fiction. You can’t help but love each character Rowell presents, even if they are a douche bag. Each character is complex and well developed, even if you only see them in snippets. With not one Mary (or Gary) Sue, the characters have flaws and admit to them which is what really sets this book apart from the rest of YA fiction.
So, let’s talk about Levi (please dear god someone needs to discuss Levi with me before I combust) who is the “love interest” of the novel. Levi is such a breath of fresh air from the usual jerks who fill the pages of YA novels. Cath makes no sickening soliloquies of his hotness or anything of the sort, and we as readers see why Cath likes him from the way they interact. Levi has the opportunity to prove himself as the love interest, which is exactly the way YA fiction should be. Levi is the perfect example of what young girls should be looking for instead of the toxic bad boy (don’t get me wrong, if done right they’re interesting to read about, but realistically should be avoided like the plague). Its impossible not to like Levi and respecting him for the way he treats Cath. He never pushes himself onto her, he looks after her when she needs him to but lets her act as her own person. Let’s just give Rowell an enthusiastic round of Applause.
Rowell’s writing style is also to be commended. The book moves at the right pace and the plot is well crafted from the get go. While not extremely descriptive, Rowell creates such a strong picture of events that everything becomes vivid in front of your eyes. Simple, but extremely effective, Rowell’s style of writing is one that I have later come to admire in her other works as well as this one.
I give this book 4.5 stars. Recommended? Highly. Does it make it on my favourite book list? Hell Yes!