fangirl

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fangirl is a book that needs no introduction, but have one anyway.

The ‘fangirl’ in question is a girl called Cath, who moves away to university with her identical twin sister Wren, leaving her dad at home (their mum walked out on them when they were 8). Cath writes fan fiction for her favourite book series, Simon Snow (think Harry Potter) as she waits for the eighth and final book to be released, but Wren has grown up, perhaps a little too fast. Cath’s social anxiety plays up as she’s forced into new scenarios, new experiences and even forced to write original characters (shock horror!).

Although the book is about growing up and moving away to university, it is firmly Young Adult. I personally love stories about starting university – it’s interesting to see characters forced to adapt and change during a story, and it’s a plot that’s rarely used (despite the fact that it’s fundamentally interesting).

This novel is definitely character driven – I found the characters to be well defined and fleshed out (the pictures at the front of the book may have helped), although the plot is a little hit-and-miss – I wasn’t too sure what was going to happen at the end, and the ending felt a little rushed and not quite wrapped up – this also happened in the other Rowell novel I’ve read, Eleanor & Park. Although this leaves you thinking more about the characters, there’s not too much tying up of loose ends, no big finale (unlike the Simon Snow novels!).

On the character front, we do see some diversity (which makes the characters interesting!) – Art is a single-parent father, Cath and Reagan are both described as plus-size, and Jandro and Abel are both Mexican, for example. The characters are flawed as well, with the love interests being realistic and not hot rod sex gods – which makes them all the more relatable. A real highlight of Rowell’s novels is the interesting characters and their development, and they do stand out against the white-washed Mary-Sue adventures that often clutter the YA bookshelves.

On the point that the plot wasn’t developed enough, especially for a book of 460 pages, I’d like to add my suggestions. I would have liked to have seen more conflict between the twins and their mother, as well as between the twins themselves – they don’t talk for three months but this is mentioned as an afterthought, and there’s no seething and anger from Cath during this time or any real indication Wren is gone. I also didn’t cotton onto the blossoming relationship between Cath and Levi until it was spelled out to me in sky writing – so I would have liked to have seen more scenes between them earlier in the novel. Nick also completely disappears, and he could have been a really interesting character, but instead his plot his resolved suddenly just before the end.

I quite liked how the excerpts of fan fiction broke up the novel – but honestly, I wasn’t invested in the characters, and so there’s way way too many excerpts written in. Especially as some chapters are Cath reading her fan fiction to Levi, without any real addition to the plot. Carry On, Cath’s fan fiction novel is being released this October, but I’m not particularly interested in reading it – the characters are a slightly-too-obvious rehash of Harry Potter.

I would recommend Fangirl if you’re looking to read something original, entertaining and popular. If the plot had been expanded and consolidated more, this would be a definite five stars, but it just doesn’t quite live up to the hype.

View all my reviews

Annalise x

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TBR: The Post-YALC Pile

After an amazing weekend at YALC, my TBR (To Be Read) pile has grown. It was already pretty big – I’ve spent the last three years procrastinating by buying books, but not really procrastinating by reading them (after many 16 hour days in the library trying to learn Chemistry, you kinda just want to sleep and eat). I’m planning on getting through my pile this Summer though (never going to happen but it’s always nice to be optimistic!).

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1. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, and 2. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithian

I’ve read two John Green novels before – Looking for Alaska and The Fault in our Stars. They’re both critically acclaimed, and I thoroughly enjoyed TFioS… the second time I read it. I hardly ever read a book twice, but TFioS was a rare exception, and I’m glad it was – I enjoyed it the first time, and I really want to be a bigger fan of John Green’s work (hence the book buys). Both of these books have interesting premises – AAoK is about a boy called Colin who has dated a grand total of 19 women called Katherine, and WG,WG is a collaboration between two authors, both writing for different characters (both called Will Grayson). I really hope these books exceed my expectations based on previous John Green novels I’ve read – but I won’t deny i’ll be first in line for his next book.

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3. Eleanor & Park, and 4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Confession: I’ve never read a book by Rainbow Rowell. That’s about to change. All I’ve heard are good things about her novels, specifically these two, both published in 2013. Eleanor & Park is a love story, set in 1986, with Eleanor, the slightly overweight new girl with a dysfunctional family, and Park, a half-Korean boy from the ‘perfect home’. Fangirl is about identical twins, moving on to university, still obsessed with their favourite author. I’m excited to start reading these books, if only for the fact that I know people who fit these characters (an achievement in itself).

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5. Forever by Judy Blume

I’ve heard about Judy Blume ever since I started reading YA fiction. She’s a legend, and this weekend, I got to watch her giving a talk at YALC. I would have asked her to sign a book, but I’ve never read a Judy Blume novel. I decided to rectify that. It is a feat in itself that this book is still a bestseller after forty years – and a little disappointing that it’s still controversial. I picked this up at the Waterstone’s book shop on site at YALC – hopefully it’ll be worth the £6.99 I forked out for it.

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6. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

I first heard of the book a few months ago, and I knew I had to buy it. You know why? The cover. I knew I needed that cover on my shelf. I’ve also heard good things – about the plot, the world, the characters – and after attending a talk at YALC with Marie on the panel, I ran out and bought the book. Kestrel is a general’s daughter in an empire which enslaves those who it conquers, and she’s expected to either join the military or get married. Kestrel has other ideas. She buys a slave – Arin – with unexpected consequences, and finds herself falling in love with him.

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7. Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

I hadn’t heard of this book before YALC, and it only took two days before I caved and bought it – I’d heard so many good things (It won the YA Book Prize 2015). To my surprise (maybe I should plan better), the author (Louise O’Neill) appeared on the ‘Bringing Sexy Back’ panel in the morning, and, because I was hauling around all my purchases from the weekend, I happened to have my copy of Only Ever Yours on me, for the signing afterwards! I’m so excited to read this book, and ‘Asking for It’, out in September – mostly because of the comparisons to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

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8. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

This was one of the books my friends bought for my birthday (I sent them a huge lists of books I promised not to buy and let them choose which ones to get). This originally was released in 2011, and it’s been sitting on my Goodreads list since then. Juliette’s touch is fatal, and she must decide whether to use it for good, or for evil. Also, look at that cover!

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9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I’ve known about Gone Girl for a few years, since the book first came out in 2012. I was there for the initial hype, and I was just never convinced enough to buy and read it. Then the film came out, and I went to see it. The film is amazing, and I knew the book would be too. I know all the twists and turns now, but I hear the book is even better, and the film will be tough to beat. Bring it on!

What’s on your TBR list? Have you read any of the books on my list? (I’m not going to lie, I imagine most people have.) Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks 🙂

Annalise x