This week I actually amazed myself for starting off so strongly. Last Sunday, I read a solid ten or so chapters in one sitting, and that is a lot for me. I read consistently every night before going to bed and finished on Saturday night. For once in my life, I finished on-schedule. That being said, I’m going to start off with what I thought of the book and then go into a more in-depth review of the novel. Let’s start with a brief, spoiler-free summary!
Cath and her identical twin, Wren, have headed off for college at a university just two hours from home. While Wren is overjoyed with this new-found freedom, Cath is bitter that her sister didn’t want to be roommates, forcing Cath to room with some stranger. As Wren is off doing her own thing in college, Cath spends her days and nights writing fan-fiction about two characters from a series she has loved since she was little called Simon Snow (which is pretty much Harry Potter), all while pursuing her degree in English and juggling her Fanfixx page. Cath struggles with the common college student issues while also trying to adapt to a new life with new people, which she definitely does not seem too happy with at first.
My Non-Spoiler Thoughts:
Starting off this book, I didn’t know much about what it was about other than the title Fangirl. Considering I’m a major fangirl over multiple fandoms, the book almost immediately made me empathize with the main character. I also became instantly hooked when I learned Cath, the main character, wrote and published fiction (though hers is fanfiction) on a website even in college, which is something I completely identified with her.
The story itself is something almost painfully identifiable for those in college and those who write (especially fanfiction). You experience the first year of college through Cath, and boy does it hit the hammer on the nail (whatever that saying is) when it comes to the fears and struggles and excitements of college. If you’re in college, have gone to college, or will be going to college, Cath’s experience can either prepare you or make you laugh along with her. Cath’s internal monologue practically matched my own when I was a Freshman, especially when she seems so awkward about almost everything. We’ve all been lost on a college campus before, right? And the friends and people Cath meet reminded me so much of the people I’ve encountered over the years.
Cath’s obsession with writing fanfiction ultimately is the main theme of this book, which I found incredibly interesting. You not only get to read how Cath is plotting and writing her fanfiction, but you also get to actually read her story. At the end of each chapter there is a passage from what she is writing, which I found incredibly interesting and felt a bit of an inception moment. If you’re a writer or have read fanfiction, this book is for you. You get to feel Cath’s passion for what she writes and her protectiveness over her characters and her bits of writer’s block. It truly was like reading about my own life, I swear. I actually had several moments of reading this when I sat the book down and looked around me for cameras. At one point I believe I actually said, “This girl is me.” Cath is quirky and incredibly witty as well as sarcastic, and she loves to make references (which I understood, so five points to me).
Overall, the novel was one I never felt bored with. The main character, Cath, was so familiar to myself, I kept reading to know how things turn out for her. The story does start off a bit rough in terms of mood, and there are many frustrating moments with Cath that leave you shaking your head and wanting to give her a firm talk, but Cath’s stubborness truly makes her story interesting. Also, I wish I could find someone like Levi at my school because the guy’s optimism is incredible. The book also contains enough drama to keep you flipping through the pages and, if you’re a psychology major or interested in breaking down a human’s behavior, the characters in the book and their behavior is perfect for analysis.
The Spoiler Section:
Not the most clever header, I suppose, but I thought I’d give my warning to those who haven’t read the book and plan to. So I’m just going to jump in on the characters.
Let’s start with Cath. For the first half of the book, I honestly didn’t like Cath. Sure, I loved her passion and her wit, but her negativity and her rude behavior towards everyone was a bit annoying at first. She didn’t even try to make friends throughout the entire novel. Cath mostly moped around and wrote fanfiction. It does become apparent that her writing fanfiction is because she desires to escape from the world, as most writers do. I couldn’t help but wonder if Cath’s closed-off behavior and her constant need to write a fanfiction story of something she used to read when she was little had anything to do with her mother abandoning them. That could definitely be up for analysis. Whenever she finally left her room to meet up with Nick, her classmate in her Fiction Writing course, I was cheering for her. She seemed so in her element when they collaborated, I actually began to see a new Cath under all of that bitterness. But the Cath I actually loved didn’t show through until after her life began falling apart, to be honest. When Wren completely abandons her and begin talking to their absentee mother, I thought Cath’s reaction of cutting them both out was completely called for. If Cath had continued trying to cling onto her sister, I would have grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her. After she had some time away from Wren, Cath blossomed and even got a boyfriend, so that goes to show how removing negative influences can change a person. I also admired how close Cath was to her dad and how she dropped everything to be with him when he needed her. She may be stubborn and cold at times, but Cath never does fully abandon those she loves, not even Wren in the end.
Speaking of Wren… What a diva, right? While it took me nearly half of the book to like Cath, it took me until the last few chapters to actually like Wren. She was such a frustrating character, and I couldn’t handle how many times she attacked her sister’s passion for writing out of spite. Wren was a loose cannon and I knew from the start she would hit rock bottom by the end. Like Cath, Wren seems to be channeling her feelings of abandonment and her relationship with her mother by downing tequila every night. She also completely lacks compassion for a solid two semesters. If I had a sister like Wren, I’d have given her a piece of my mind the second week of school and left it at that. However, after Wren’s trip to the hospital and her realizing Cath was there for her no matter what, I began to see something good inside of her, which was her desire to see her sister succeed in her fanfiction.
Cath’s luck was on her side when her roommate, Reagan, and her roommate’s friend, Levi, took her under her wing and befriended her even when she resisted. I could only ask, “Where were those people when I was looking for the printers at my school?” And while Reagan and Levi were described in a not-to-positive light by Cath, I loved them from the beginning. Reagan, though rough around the edges, has a heart of gold and seems to be the exact roommate Cath needs; someone who will call her out and pull her out of her room, which she does several times.
And then there’s Levi. Levi was someone I honestly was conflicted about just as Cath was. When Cath first describes Levi, he honestly isn’t seen as swoon-worthy. He is average. He has blond hair, a receding hairline, an almost-frail body, and a smile on his face all the time. Like Cath, I wasn’t exactly crushing on him at first. And like Cath, I totally fell for his personality. Levi is so incredibly human; he makes mistakes, he has a crappy truck, he has a part-time job at Starbucks, he is barely passing his classes, he has an odd obsession with livestock. But something I truly admired about Levi was his optimism and friendliness. He literally smiles at everything. No one is a stranger to him. Levi loves making people feel comfortable, and he notices almost everything and tries his best to help anyone in need. While Cath finds his constant happiness a bit annoying, I was envious of her being around a skinny ray of sunshine. Possibly the greatest thing I loved about Levi was his reliability. When her sister constantly failed her, Levi was there to help out and offer emotional support at any moment as well as support Cath in anything she did. What’s not to admire about that?
I can’t finish my thoughts on the characters without mentioning the dad. He was, quite possibly, my favorite character. I loved his goofiness and his friendship with his daughters. He was practically a child himself and treated his daughters like his equals. You have to admire the fact he raised two daughters by himself after his wife left him, and they even went off to college. Yes, the dad is mentally unstable at times and tends to lose his mind here and there, but it’s obvious he tries his best.
4 out of 5 Stars
Overall, the novel was a cute and even emotional journey involving many ups and downs in just two semesters. I never struggled to focus on reading it, and I read through it with ease because the story held my attention. The characters were all interesting and different, and the fact there was a story within the story of a world with magic was something I completely enjoyed and found to be so unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read. If you’re looking for something relatable and cute, Fangirl is a great choice.
For next week’s book, I will be listening to A Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes on audible.com. Because school will be starting a week from Tuesday, I wanted to read something encouraging and perfect for the beginning of the year. 🙂