Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you may have heard that last year was The Year of the Fangirl. This was in part due to Ashley Eckstein’s Geek Girl fashion company Her Universe’s Year of the Fangirl campaign, in which yours truly was a Fangirl of the Day recipient, and partially due to Rainbow Rowell’s appropriately named novel, Fangirl.
Fangirl tells the story of Cather and her twin sister, Wren, lifelong Fangirls of the Simon Snow series who are starting their first semester of college. For the first time in their lives, Wren doesn’t want to live together. She wants separate dorms, and to live a real college experience. Cather can’t understand why, nor can she leave her old Fangirl ways and fanfiction writing behind. Through their first year, Cather struggles to fit in, deal with the stress of college, handle two boys being interested in her for different reasons, with feelings of abandonment by her sister, her father’s manic depression, and whether or not she should leave Simon behind in her childhood. It’s a story about sisters and family, first love, growing into adulthood, and letting go.
I loved that the fictional Simon Snow series was paying homage to the Harry Potter fandom and it’s massive following online and in fanfiction. The little excerpts of both Cather’s fanfiction and the Simon books really helped to set the tone for how much of a fan Cather is, and how much the fandom has been part of her life for so long. Any Fangirl, even those not fully entrenched in the Harry Potter fandom, can relate. As a Star Wars and Stargate Fangirl, I’ve rollplayed in both fandoms and written fanfiction for the latter, as well as made fan art for both, so I could see me current and 18-19 year old self in Cather. Plus, I majored in English and minored in writing, so I could relate to Cather’s struggles with her writing professor.
Rowell’s writing is full of humor and sadness, but just enough of each to not overwhelm the story. I didn’t think it was as good as Eleanor and Park, but I still really liked it since I could relate more to the character. I just didn’t like the ending and few other things that happened in the book. That being said, it was a pretty accurate account, in some way or another, of college life for most college students.
I give it Four Lightsabers.