In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life - and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow Series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to.
Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words...And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? Open her heart to someone? Or will she just go on living inside somebody else's fiction?
©2013 Rainbow Rowell (P)2013 St. Martin's Griffin
Short, Simple, No Spoilers
After devouring Eleanor and Park, sought out another Rainbow Rowell novel. Did my best to let go of the previous characters and give this one a new focus and attention.
Cathe's twin is moving in a different direction as they enroll in college. Alone, nervous, a little odd, she spends most of her time writing fan fiction in a Harry Potteresque world; Simon Snow and Bas. She has a huge fan base yet can't seem to devote the same amount of attention into her fiction assignments.
Some of the characters are predictable and some surprise you. Took me a little while to adjust to the Simon Snow pieces (as narrated by 80's hottie, Maxwell Caufield), but found the ending of both storylines tied up nicely. Rebecca Lowman is superb as Cathe, who is awkwardly searching for a foothold in friendship, possibly love, and her future in writing. Worthy novel for an entertaining read.
Since I liked Elenor & Park a lot, I went straight to the next Rainbow Rowell book. The recently released Fangirl. What a wonderful love story. Rainbow Rowell wields an effortless power over words and characters. I became a Fangirl-fan after only a few minutes, the story has a great flow and is extremely addictive without being overly dramatic. No villains, no death, no great deception, not a lot of crying and all the same. I grew so attached to Cather and all her friends. I would have loved for the story to never end.
The Narration by Rebecca Lowman is perfect. Her voices are distinctive without being overacted. Five Stars. Maxwell Caufield is a bit over the top for my taste, but since he is only reading the Simon Snow Excerpts at the beginning of the chapters, it was sort of funny.
Special thanks to Sasha, Stacy and Stef for sharing the Audible experience with me and being the best of company during my recovery.
It's a strange situation when you read and review books that were other people's choices. This is true particularly when you're an older male and your reading partners are much younger females. I've listened to, and learned more about romance audios than I ever desired to know. The first Rainbow Rowell to become a part of my library was Attachments; a humorous look at a mama's boy and a couple of twenty-something females and not too much of the angst and ennui that are a large portion of Rainbow Rowell's novels. Eleanor and Park never moved past angst and ennui Fangirl does and it only takes nine hours; yippee, what fun.
There are certain components of this audiobook that are very well done and Rebecca Lowman did a good job as the narrator. The aspect of twins and the behavior exhibited by the newly freed college students away from home for the first time were both unique and well done. The story of the twins father and the balancing act between being functionally manic and way too manic that is the reality for anyone afflicted with bipolar disorder was another positive point. I struggled at times getting through the slower portions of this audiobook and after the first couple of chapters the Simon Snow sections were merely a cue for me to fast forward through the end of chapters. The fact that I don't read or listen to Fantasy, nor am I any sort of follower of fan fiction which I'm certain didn't help my appreciation of this selection.
The girls appreciated this one more than I did and I'm betting that won't vary a lot.
I will listen to every book Rainbow Rowell writes, but it will be a while before I re-listen. When I want to time travel to revisit my own early college anxieties / small victories, I will re-listen to this book. For now, I'm jealous of people who haven't listened to Fangirl yet -- it was a delight.
Rainbow Rowell won my heart with "Eleanor and Park." "Fangirl" is less fraught and stressful, but drawn just as well. In both, Rowell conjures the awkwardness and excitement of teen emotions with disturbing accuracy. The "Simon Snow" fan-fic plot was a lot more endearing than I expected it to be. I loved the overt and subtle allusions to Harry Potter and Twilight. This element reminded me of "Ready Player One" because it was both funny and nostalgic.
Rebecca Lowman was an excellent narrator for the main story. I enjoyed the interludes of Maxwell Caulfield reading excerpts from the Simon Snow stories. The combination was such a smart idea.
Read books. not too many. Mostly good ones.
While I enjoyed some of the wordplay, as well as the all-too-rare college setting (why are so many YA novels set in high school? well, I guess that makes sense, but nevertheless), the protagonist is just completely spineless. I actually listened to this while running, and it actually made me run faster because I was just so angry at Cather-- she actively avoids anything new, and resents her sister for meeting new people and having fun in college. Granted, this might have been me projecting at my own memories of being an overly introverted person back in college, but that doesn't change the fact that Cather just cannot stand alone as a protagonist.
There are a number of redeeming factors, however; her roommate, Reagan, is probably the only reason I continued reading the book, and her sister is just fun to read in general. However, the love interest is a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype who cannot stand as a character without Cather, and is wholly uninteresting with manufactured hamartiae.
Finally, the book ended right as the story really got rolling, with the first half of the story consisting of mainly Cather whining. In fact, it was so abrupt that it almost didn't make sense-- and right as Cather was starting to grow on me, too.
Overall, I cannot wholly recommend this book. It is cute. I will grant you that. But if protagonists who rival Hamlet in their wishy-washiness bother you, this book is not for you. It's really too bad.
I have heard good things about Eleanor and Park-- might try that one. But this one was meh.
I haven't listened to Lowman or Caulfield before, but they did a really great job considering the circumstances. Lowman reads an especially snarky Reagan.
Fangirl's ending was quite abrupt, but it was creative in its used of somewhat mixed media (i.e. excerpts of the fanfic Cather reads all the time). That might be nice to see.
This is a fantastic, entertaining, make you laugh and cry, make time fly by fast, very credit worthy audiobook. Rebecca Lowman gives a brilliant performance. She makes the characters and the story come alive in such a way that after a while you stop noticing the narrator. The story just happens inside your head. I like the world of Fangirl very much. It's a small world, but a place I enjoyed spending time in and populated by characters I cared about very much. I especially enjoyed Levi, he's not a conventionally handsome or perfect guy who never puts a foot wrong, but there was just something about him that made me root for him and made me smile inside and out, even when he screwed up. We should all have a Levi in our lives at some point.
This is one of my favorite books that I have gotten from audible. I think I would have liked it just as much had I read it, but listening to it was awesome.
If you enjoy Harry Potter or other "fandoms" you will really relate to this book! It was just super cute, and fun to listen to.
I think everyone should read this book, but it's hard to put into words why. This book defies explanation and the synopsis doesn't do it justice. Rainbow Rowell is one of those writers who has the ability to write tons of emotion in as few words as possible (that's praise, not criticism). She is similar to John Green in that they both write angsty but smart YA characters. Normally when the main character whines it really turns me off, and even though Cath's musings can be construed as whining, to me she seemed more confused and socially awkward than a true whiner. She's also relate-able because no one knows how to act their first few months of freshman year. The narration is great, I really liked how the Simon Snow thread had one narrator and the Cath thread had another. I would absolutely recommend this book.
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This book was kind of adorable, and I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. While it definitely fits into the Young Adult and Chic Lit categories, there is a lot of nerdiness and a little more depth than you usually find in either genre. While I'm not a fan of Fan Fiction in general, I enjoyed the incorporation of the culture in the story, as well as the interweaving of the main story, the FanFic story, and the Harry Potter-esque world that Cath's Fan Fiction derived from. It was a fun read (listen), and Rebecca Lowman and Maxwell Caulfied add a lot to the audiobook version with great narration.
I listened to the book Fangirl because my older sister read it over the holidays and told me I would love it and then took it away with her. I had an Audible credit and was agonizing over what to buy when it hit me that I could buy this book by some chick named Rainbow Rowell and I’d get to “read” it. So I did. And it pretty much changed my life.
The book is about Cath and her relationships. Her relationship with her twin sister, Wren, is changing because they’re going to college and Wren wants more independence from her family. Cath doesn’t feel that same need and doesn’t want to be too free. Her relationship with her dad is changing, because he’s home alone for the first time since their mom left, and she worries over him. Her relationship with her fan-fiction community is changing because the demands of college life is somewhat overwhelming. And now she has to deal with her roommate, her boyfriend, her sister’s roommate, her writing partner, and her professors.
Cath writes fan-fic about Simon Snow (a bit like Harry Potter only different) and she’s very serious about it. I wish I had the dedication that she does to her craft. It made me insanely guilty.
Okay, there are so many things I loved about this book, I almost don’t know where to begin. Levi, I’ll start with Levi. Levi is such a beautiful optimist and a treasure. He is Cath’s roommate’s (Reagan) friend, initially thought to be her boyfriend. He has never read a novel all the way through, and Cath actually get angry about it (something I would totally do).
She decides to help him with a test and reads the entire book The Outsiders aloud to him. It was my second favorite scene in the book.
Reagan is a pretty awesome character herself. She’s completely kick-ass and I-don’t-give-a-crap-what-you-think, but her relationship with Cath becomes one of my favorite in the book. They sit in the cafeteria and make fun of people. Reagan is a good reminder to Cath that there are other things in the world besides fan-fic. Like, take this quote for example:
She’s a perfect person to befriend Cath.
And Cath, oh man. I am her, in so many ways. Like she wears her fandom t-shirts every day and is introverted and awkward. She’d prefer to read or write to any other activity. And she cares so much about everyone and doesn’t know how to express it well. My heart bled for her when Wren walked away from, leaving her to room with someone else and basically deal with her freshman year alone. Cath deals with it by isolating herself and writing her fan-fic novel. Which, again, I relate to so well.
The most emotional point in the book for me was the end. That seems cliché and expected, but it isn’t for the reason that you might think. Since Simon Snow is the equivalent of Harry Potter, I felt a kinship to Cath merely because her level of Snow fandom is the same as mine to Potter. At the end of the book, the last Simon Snow novel comes out and Cath and Wren get emotionally overwrought and I lost it. I sat in the dark of my room bawling as I listened because all of my Harry Potter feels resurfaced after seven years and I couldn’t help myself.
ALL THE FEELS!
Rebecca Lowman is one of my favorite narrators of all time and she did such a good job reading this book. Although, I have to say, some of my favorite parts were the Simon Snow bits before each chapter, which were read by Max Caulfield. It was a phenomenal narration.
My favorite parts of the book were Cath/Levi moments. They get together before you reach halfway in the book, so I don’t really view this as a spoiler, but other people might. Levi is the ultimate extrovert, saying ‘hi’ to people he’s never met and starting conversations out of nothing. I admire his mad skills. Cath is the ultimate introvert and thus limits interaction with human beings to the absolute minimum. How could you not see them coming? And how could you not love them together?
This review was originally published on my blog, Infusions of Wit From an Everyday Girl.
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