Fangirl is the story of Cath, a young woman who is starting college but doesn’t really want to be there. She would much rather be writing fanfiction online- Simon Snow fanfiction. Cath is an introvert, a devoted geek- and she has a devoted following online. Her and her twin sister Wren have spent years immersed in Simon Snow fandom. It’s safe to say that Simon Snow and fanfiction are her life. But now she is starting college…and for the first time Cath and Wren are drawing apart.
Cath doesn’t really want to change, and is content to spend most of her time in her dorm writing fanfiction. She has no interest in parties, drinking or even a career at this point. Wren, on the other hand, is leaving fandom behind and wants to enjoy everything college has to offer. Cath assumes that she and Wren would room together at college, but when Wren makes other plans Cath has to adjust and ends up rooming with Reagan, a tough chick who smokes. Not exactly Cath’s speed. Not only that, but her charming, always smiling boyfriend is always hanging around too. He’s friendlier than Reagan… and when it becomes apparent that he and Reagan are no longer an item, Cath is drawn to him in spite of herself.
Add to this a creative writing professor who is decidedly unimpressed with fanfiction, problems at home with her dad (who struggles with manic issues), and serious social anxiety, and Cath has her hands full.
I was very impressed with Fangirl. This is a funny, touching, irreverent coming of age story and is so true to life. Anyone who has ever embraced fandom, be it Star Wars, Harry Potter or whatever will be able to relate to Cath. I laughed throughout the book at the wry observations of geekdom and the pop culture references. I thought it was a fun, quick read and I really cared about Cath, Wren and Levi by the end. Rowell has a knack for describing social situations in a way that seems familiar.
I liked the characters for the most part. Reagan’s a lot of fun. She’s just a little bit cooler than everyone else but when the chips are down she’s there for Cath. The scenes where her and Cath sit in the cafeteria and snarkily compare notes on the other students cracked me up. Levi was a great guy and good for Cath- no artificial angst here, just true to life romantic stuff.
I could relate to so many things in this story. It was touching to see Cath cope with her social anxieties and grow as a person. I thought this might be a story where at the end we see that Cath has to grow up and leave her fanfiction behind. It was nice to see that yes she has grown- but at the same time she doesn’t have to forget everything she loves. There’s room for that in her life too, because it’s a part of her. I think Rowell did a fantastic job with this.