Monday, 8 May 2017

A Review of Fangirl

Fangirl is a book by Rainbow Rowell, who also wrote a few other books, including Eleanor and Park. Cather Avery writes fanfiction based on Simon Snow (a Harry Potter expy) of which she's also a huge fan. She is about to start college, with her twin sister Wren. However, Wren has asked for them to be in seperate dorms, to help her sister get out of her comfort zone. For shy and introverted Cath, this is almost a nightmare.

I really wanted to love this book, guys. I'm a huge geek, a fangirl myself. I spent more nights then I should admit reading (and writing) Harry Potter fanfiction. And I usually love anything which presents geek culture in a positive light. But something about this one did not click with me, and I'm not even sure why.

There are frequent extracts from the fictional Simon Snow stories, and from Cath's own fanfiction. However, I found it hard to care during these parts. It would be hard for anyone to make a cohesive magical world and characters that we would care about within the small amount of pages Rowell could dedicate to them. Perhaps the sort-of companion book Carry On, which expands into the Simon Snow story, improves on this. Also, at one point, Cath turns her fanfiction in to her professor for a grade. With all the discussion around fanfiction and plagiarism, I'm not sure how she ever expected this to work. Also, I find it odd that there is two famous fictional boy wizards (Simon Snow and Harry Potter) existing at the same time in this universe. Whichever one came second would always find themselves being compared to the other.

I think I should have been able to relate to Cath more then I did, as a fellow fanfiction writing geek. In college (or University as I called it) I was the one trying to time my trips to the kitchen to make dinner when no-one else would be there. But something about her just didn't quite click with me. Reagan, her roommate, is actually one of my favourite characters. I feel the narrative treats Wren too harshly, for letting herself loose a little at college. In fact, for all the hints we got that something was wrong with her, I feel Cath should have tried sooner to find out what the matter was. And I feel like this would be a stronger story without a romance aspect. I wish it had been about a geek starting to navigate the world of college, and making new friends. Cath's own narration admits that she finds physical contact in her relationship hard, and to me it feels like she just wasn't ready for that part of a relationship.

With all that being said, however, I do recommend this book for all geeks, especially those who have wrote fanfiction at some point in their lives.

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