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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »

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1 Beaverton Children's Young Adult- General

Fangirl

by

Fangirl Cover

ISBN13: 9781250030955
ISBN10: 1250030951
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Disquietus, April 27, 2014 (view all comments by Disquietus)
Coming up with the words to write this review has mostly been impossible. Nothing I could ever tell you about my experience with this book could give justice to how much I utterly love and adore and want to live within its pages. I’ve read dozens of amazing contemporary books this year, that I’ve loved to an insane extent, but Fangirl is the moon and stars and sun and ocean of books. I definitely fall into the camp of considering this a new adult book and it’s everything that I want new adult books to be. A beautiful, heart warming, realistic, and relatable story that explores family, love, friendship and self-exploration in a truly unforgettable story.

There have been a lot of characters that I’ve related to this year, but none have resonated with me as much as Cath. An introvert who hides behind her computer screen and refuses to let anyone into her carefully built walls after her mother walks out on her family, there were times where reading about Cath was almost like looking in a mirror, in both good and bad ways. Part of Cath’s charm is that she is so obviously a flawed character. She’s equal parts funny, sweet, talented and caring as well as stubborn, self-absorbed and naive. It often feels as if she cares more about the fictional universe she writes fanfic for then the universe she’s living in, and really haven’t most of us been there? She is just so likable that seeing her character grow and step outside of that comfort zone had me cheering for her the entire time. REALLY HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE AND CHEER FOR A CHARACTER WHO HAS KANYE DANCE PARTY’S ON HER BAD DAYS?

The writing is what I’ve come to expect from Rowell. You know, utter perfection. I loved the pacing and the way the story encompassed the entirety of her freshman year and all of the stories developments on a realistic timeline. Nothing felt rushed or like Cath changed her entire personality miraculously overnight. I love it when contemps get that right. The writing was smart, witty, poignant and 100% engaging. The story made me so incredibly nostalgic for my own freshman year of college, and made me remember a lot of things I thought I’d forgotten. It even gave me the urge to dig out all of my old journals that I have buried in storage somewhere. It was so realistic and engaging that I felt as if I was living the year right alongside Cath and the other characters.

The one thing I really was not a huge fan of was all the excerpts of Cath’s fan fiction. I understand it’s purpose, especially the way it brings Cath and Levi together and such, but sometimes I felt like there was just a little too much. The short bits weren’t so bad, but the super long parts that Cath reads to Levi drove me crazy. I didn’t care about the fictional Simon Snow world (although yes, if this was a real series I would totally be all over it), I cared about Cath’s. I did think the reading aloud to Levi thing was adorable though. My best friend actually read Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows aloud to her husband, so when I read about that it made me think of that and smile because they are the most adorable couple I know.

While the focus of the story is Cath’s self-exploration, her relationship with her family is a huge part of that. Naturally I related to her relationship with her sister and dad way more than I should have. Cath is completely thrown for a loop that her twin, Wren, doesn’t want to be roommates. Wren and Cath, while sharing the Simon Snow love, are pretty much complete opposites in every way and the distance that grows between them when they start college, even though they are going to the same school, obviously hurts both of them and I really loved seeing that dynamic explored. I don’t have a twin (although I’ve always wished I did because I totally always wanted to be the evil twin when I was a kid-thank you Sweet Valley High), but I do have a cousin whose only six months younger than me and is more like my sister than my cousin and we went through a similar phase when we went into high school and it was utterly devastating for me. Watching Cath go through that with Wren brought all of that back to the forefront and I loved seeing the sisters find that balance again, even if I didn’t particularly like Wren’s character.

I also loved that Rowell actually created realistic parent/child relationships and explored them. Despite the fact that Cath is away at college and doing her own thing, her relationship with both parents, for better or worse, was definitely very present in the story. Also her mother is a horrible human being. As much rage as I felt at her for abandoning her family, I think I felt even more rage at her giving her kids weird names because she was too lazy to think of a second name when she found out she was having twins. I mean, Wren’s not that bad but Cather? WHO DOES THAT TO THEIR CHILD? Crap moms, that’s who.

Of course the book has a totally glorious romance because Rowell is amazing at that. LEVI IS MY EVERYTHING. During my freshman year, I super bonded with my RA. I think he mostly took pity on me because my roommate was horrible and I was obviously lonely and socially awkward, but he was kind of my hero that year and I was half in love with him. He was just a truly good guy and helped bring me out of my shell more than I might have without him. Plus he let me sleep on the couch in his dorm room when my roommate stumbled in loud and drunk or insisted on sleeping with the TV on. Man, I miss that guy. Anyway, tangent aside, Levi reminded me of him so freaking much it made me sad and nostalgic and so so feelsy. I loved his character so much and the development of his and Cath’s relationship was so beautiful and perfect just thinking about it makes my heart sing. It was the perfect-slow burn and even when Levi did some thing that made me want to junk punch him, he still held my heart. Seriously Cath, if you don’t someday marry him, I will. Because that is totally a possible thing.

As much as I love Levi and relate to Cath, Reagan was probably my favorite character. Her smart-ass ways and brutal honesty just spoke to me and I loved the balance she brought to Cath and the way she helped bring her out and obviously genuinely cared, even when she didn’t want to.

As a sidebar, and not that anyone probably cares but I feel like mentioning it because I’ve seen it mentioned by lots of people, while reading the book I think I figured out why Rowell uses a fictional fandom rather than Harry Potter, which Simon Snow is obviously pulled from. She actually kind of gives us the answer when Cath and her professor discuss the difference between fan fiction and plagiarism and Cath argues that it’s not plagiarism if she’s not profiting of it. If Rowell had used Harry Potter, and still included the excerpts of the fan fiction Cath wrote then technically she’d be profiting off of HP fan fiction which would technically be plagiarism. Yes. I thought about it too much but at least its sensible.

So yea. I guess I liked Fangirl. And think you should probably read it too. And if you actually read this monster of a review and all my crazy tangents, thanks for that.
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Beverly B, March 16, 2014 (view all comments by Beverly B)
Fangirl is everything a coming of age story is supposed to be. All of the characters are interesting, complex and likable, especially melancholy protagonist, Cath, and her intimidating roommate, Reagan. Cath has good reasons to be standoffish and snarky. Her personal life is a tangled mess of insecurity, change and instability. Cath is terrified of new situations, new people and change. And she would love to have some stability for once. Her anonymous online life, on the other hand, is a rousing success. Cath writes fanfiction for one of the world's most popular fan web sites, and her stories are an international phenomenon. She tries to hide from life as a college freshman, but luckily, Reagan and Reagan's high school sweetheart, Levi, have other ideas for Cath. They not only become her friends, they become her anchor. Cath's transformation from wallflower to almost genial is slow and filled with missteps, but she manages to hang on to her very funny sarcastic wit. There is no cliche happy ending, but there is a happier and hopeful ending. There is also a hint of a sequel, maybe
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Melinda Ott, December 19, 2013 (view all comments by Melinda Ott)
First of all, I owe sincere thanks to Rainbow Rowell for reintroducing me to Young Adult Fiction. Eleanor and Park is one of the best books I've read this year and Fangirl did not disappoint.

Here we meet Cath, a college freshman who was abandoned by her mother at a young age and by her twin sister as they entered college. Coupled with the responsibility she feels for her bipolar father and the fact that this introvert is now dealing with the campus world, Cath has a lot on her plate. Her coping mechanism is to fall into the world of fan fiction, based on the character of Simon Snow (sort of a riff on Harry Potter).

Cath is a wonderful character and I related to many of her experiences in college--and I saw a lot of myself and other people that I know in her. Rowell is a master at crafting true-to-life characters and Cath is one of her best. She is a little exasperating at times, but what 18 year old isn't? While I didn't "like" her twin sister, Wren, I found her an interesting character and foil for Cath. Levi was a little too good to be true, but that was okay with me!

There was only one thing that kept this book from being perfect for me--and it really has nothing to do with the book itself (it's not the book, it's me!). I never got into the fan fiction thing and I couldn't really relate to Cath's obsession with it. I didn't mind all the fan fiction, but it did sort of present a bit of a wall (or, at least a flimsy fence) between me and this book.

All in all, a great read and if you are looking for some quality Young Adult Fiction, I would highly recommend Fangirl.
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veryinvisible, October 14, 2013 (view all comments by veryinvisible)
Fangirl is every fangirl's dream come true; A book about them. And it's not a book that just undermines the loyalty of any fandom, but it's one that totally gets them. Rowell's Fangirl is not only a true rendition of an actual fangirl in real life, it is a book we finally get that so many of us relate to (and it's actually good!).

Cath is your typical fangirl; She hides out in her room - which is totally decked out in Simon Snow fandom merch - on the internet, writing fanfiction, or talking to her "internet friends". The way she describes the fandom, as well as her passion, immediately tips you off that Rainbow Rowell knows what she's talking about. Simon Snow is basically the Harry Potter of Cath's world (even though harry potter still exists in her world). So when college starts, Cath's world starts to shift as her twin sister, Wren, seems to detach herself from the "fandom" life, unlike Cath who is still crazy dedicated to Simon Snow and her fanfiction for the series, Carry On. So without Wren, who she did everything with together up until this point, Cath feels stranded in unfamiliar territory with, what seems to be, a mean roommate, Reagan, and her smiley boyfriend, Levi. And on top of that, Cath has social anxiety and is a bit insecure with herself. Her hesitation to explore campus, let alone fine the dining hall, further adds to her anxiety of the unknown. Rather than go out and party like most of the other students, she ends up in her room doing the usual: writing Carry On. Cath goes through events throughout her freshmen year that includes her family, friends, school, and of course Simon Snow, that may or may not end up in a total disaster.

Rowell's writing made you feel like you were living as Cath despite it being told in the third person, however at times it felt like someone was also telling you the story, which isn't too far off with how I felt reading Rowell's other book, Eleanor and Park. She also includes excerpts from the Simon Snow novels and even Cath's fanfiction in-between chapters, so that you know enough of the series that you're never really lost if it comes up in Cath's conversations. Rainbow Rowell literally created a whole new universe within the one she is narrating, that has just the same amount of depth and personality as everyone in Cath's world that you end up being a fangirl of Simon Snow yourself, wishing it was an actual series.

So what fangirl wouldn't like a book about a fangirl? Well Cath is just one type of fangirl. The fanfiction reading, slash fanfiction writing, marathon watching, room covered with fandom merch, and has her own fanbase based on a fandom kind of a fangirl. So unless you're no where close to that kind of a fangirl then maybe you wont feel as connected to Cath, however that wouldn't be enough not to read the book. Cath's journey through her college freshman year not only is relatable regardless of what kind of fangirl you are but also a story everyone should read for its authenticity.
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Berkeley, October 10, 2013 (view all comments by Berkeley)
Fangirl was worth the read but not worth a re-read. The ending was unsatisfying and didn't make me have to sit there for a couple of minutes coming to terms with the end, which, I'll admit it, is one of my favorite parts of reading. There wasn't a easily-identifiable climax, and the part that I think was the climax happened halfway through the book.
In short: It started off well but the ending was unsatisfactory and the book seemed to kind of drag on a bit.
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(5 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
 1-5 of 5

Product Details

ISBN:
9781250030955
Author:
Rowell, Rainbow
Publisher:
St. Martin's Griffin
Subject:
Girls & Women
Subject:
Children s-General
Edition Description:
Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date:
20130910
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
from 8 up to 13
Language:
English
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 13 up to 18

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Fangirl Used Hardcover
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Product details 448 pages St. Martin's Griffin - English 9781250030955 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Genuine — and genuinely funny — this touching coming-of-age novel perfectly blends humor and heartfelt emotion. Fangirl is about love, fan fiction, outsiders, and sisters starting their freshmen year at college. This gem will captivate teen and adult readers alike.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Cath Avery's life has two polestars: Wren, her identical twin, and the Simon Snow series, a Harry Potter — like publishing phenomenon that Cath has been reading — and rewriting, as a hugely popular fanfiction author — for years. While Cath is an expert on Simon's life, she finds her own difficult, especially now that she's starting college and Wren doesn't want them to room together. Since Cath would rather stay in her room and write than do anything involving other people, that first year is terrifying, which she expected, but also heartbreaking and romantic, which she did not. Rowell (Eleanor & Park) blends Cath's first year of college with excerpts of both the 'canon' Simon Snow books and Cath's distinctly non-canonical fanfic, to create a funny and tender coming-of-age story that's also the story of a writer finding her voice. Rowell makes all of Cath's relationships — with her father; Wren; her acerbic roommate, Reagan; and, especially, Reagan's ex Levi (who practically takes up residence in their room to woo the skeptical and extremely nervous Cath) — touching and utterly real. Ages 13–up. Agent: Christopher Schelling, Selectric Artists. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "Absolutely captivating."
"Review" by , "The magic here is cast not with wands but with Rowell's incredible ability to build complex, vivid, troubling and triumphant relationships....Fans of Eleanor & Park and other bookish, nerdy types will thrill at finding such a fantastic and lasting depiction of one of their own."
"Review" by , "A charming coming-of-age novel...filled with complex subjects (such as divorce, abandonment, and mental illness) handled in a realistic manner, and the writing effortlessly and seamlessly weaves these threads together."
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