Hello, it's Shani here! Today I wanted to discuss one of my favourite books, which I was able to reread again! I'm back once again to discuss another Rainbow Rowell book, Fangirl! I hope you all enjoy this review and if you haven't read Fangirl, I would definitely suggest you pop to your local bookshop and purchase it!
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: 10 September 2013
Publisher: St Martin's Press
My Rating: 4.5/5
Fangirl, written by Rainbow Rowell, is about an eighteen year old girl named Cather Avery who is attempting to survive her first year of College (or University), however she finds herself struggling due to her obsession with writing Fan Fiction for the Simon Snow universe.
In a sense, I have never related to a book character quite like I have to Cather's. Cath lives and breathes through her reading and writing, it is the only way she is able to make it through her everyday life. Her anxiety about starting a new chapter in her life, going to University and moving away from her family home, make her a very realistic character and I have found that a lot of people my age have found themselves being able to relate to her. Cath's obsession with the Simon Snow universe, which is a series made up entirely by Rowell but in the novel is written by Gemma T. Leslie, has numerous elements of Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling. I found this interesting because I had never seen a Young Adult novel acknowledge the fact that Fan Fiction is an active, almost essential part, of a novel's 'hype'. There are over 637,063 Fan Fictions of Harry Potter on the internet alone, and never I have seen a writer such as Rowell acknowledge that Fan Fiction exists. Not only does Rowell acknowledge it, but she encourages it, and many other writers have begun to as well. This was one of the main things I loved about Fangirl so much, it presented the reader with a character who cared deeply for two characters - Simon Snow and Baz - and used them as a coping mechanism in her every day life. It makes the reader realise that caring about fictional characters isn't a bad thing and should be more encouraged rather than disregarded.
The subject of mental health is handled beautifully in this book. Not only does Cath suffer from GAD - General Anxiety Disorder - but her father Arthur, referred to as 'Art', suffers from mental health issues as well. Rowell breaches subjects, such as parental abandonment, without any reluctance whatsoever and presents the reader with Cath's various different emotions throughout the stages of her school year. Though the book is written in third person, the narrative is around Cath throughout the entire novel, and in a sense it almost feels as if it is written from a first person account. Cath's conflicting emotions over the rift with her twin sister, Wren, and her estranged mother, Laura, are written beautifully by Rowell and show the complex emotions that one goes through when faced with challenging circumstances. Rowell is unafraid to show her young adult audience that it is okay to be upset when faced with these type of issues, her writing presents a certain fragility and vulnerability that many young adults go through.
Another aspect which was wonderful about this novel was that at the end of certain chapters, Rowell would include an extract from Cath's Fan Fiction. This was so wonderfully written and added new life to the novel, making it more interesting as the reader went along because you are almost reading two stories at once. I think perhaps my favourite thing about this novel though, was Levi's encouragement of Cath writing Fan Fiction and how blatantly obvious his love for Cath was. Cath first meets Levi when she finds him in her room on the first day of moving into the University dorms. Cath is initially terrified of Levi, she doesn't quite know how to behave around him which I found hilarious. Her awkwardness seems real and Rowell has crafted Cath's anxiety so well that we as readers can feel it ourselves as we read along. Levi is unbelievably supportive of Cath and her Fan Fiction, going so far as to ask her to read it out loud to him. I thought the dynamics between them were unbearably sweet, portraying an accurate depiction of 'first love'.
Other characters such as Wren and Reagan had me laughing uncontrollably at times during Fangirl. Though the novel has serious issues addressed, and has wonderfully written romance, the book is first and foremost a comedy. Rowell's humour is perhaps my favourite thing about this book. The witty and sarcastic language makes the novel an entertaining read which has me returning to read it again, and again!