Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: My Review
Rating: 4/5 stars
I loved this book! I had a lot of high expectations going into it and I felt it definitely fulfilled them.
Cath was such quirky, honest character who I found to be very relatable in many ways - introverted, loves living in fictional worlds, anxious about things others would find insignificant - and her development across the novel was so clear; she really grew into herself as a separate identity to her outgoing twin Wren who she always felt overshadowed her, yet at her core she still remains the endearingly and realistically flawed character who I loved at the very beginning.
Levi was my favourite character because of the way he helped Cath discover herself and come out of her shell in so many ways. He was literally all that a girl could wish for in a boyfriend but at the same time he was believable, not perfect, but perfect enough.
Another thing I loved about Fangirl was the fanfiction aspect and the way Cath described how writing felt to her, how she could write for hours on end as she became lost in the world of her characters - the extracts from Simon Snow before each chapter were so enjoyable for me as The World of Mages heavily alludes to the 'Chosen One' concept that is present in Harry Potter so it reminded me a lot of my favourite series! Cath's favourite hobby of writing fanfiction becomes a huge escape for her from reality and the daunting experience of starting university. I cannot speak to the representation of first university experiences because I'm only in sixth form, but from what I imagine Rowell's depiction of this significant life transition remains very true to how almost everyone feels at this big time of change in their life, particularly those who suffer a lot of anxiety as it is.
Although Rowell wrote this book in third person, it was done in such a skilled way that really allowed me to connect with Cath, so much so that it feels as though she is narrating it in first person, making it an even more engaging introspective coming-of-age story. It is a definitely a book that is heavily character-driven rather than an intense plot, but I was okay with that as I love those kind of books just as much as I do ones packed with action. I would have liked to see Cath's social anxiety explored a bit more as it doesn't play a very big role at all, we just kind of know that its there, but at the same time we still learn about all the little things that plague Cath, such as the way she holes herself up in her room and survives on protein bars because she wanted to avoid the awkwardness of the cafeteria. Strange, raw and endearingly hilarious.
Overall, Fangirl was a really enjoyable, upbeat contemporary full of complex lovable characters while interweaving some more serious issues succinctly and accurately.