Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Fangirl
Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Contemporary YA
Date Read: 16/10/2015 – 20/10/2015
Rating: ★★☆



I read this book as a former fangirl. I am not invested in fandom to the degree I was even a couple of years ago. And I’m okay with that. But I think it probably did taint my reading experience a bit. As I said in my review of The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, I don’t read a lot of contemporary YA fiction, but this one is so well-known, I decided to give it a go when I saw it on a display at the library. Unfortunately, for me it fellt a bit flat.

The main character, Cath, and her twin sister Wren, are Simon Snow fangirls. They’re also starting college, and to Cath’s great horror, starting to drift apart a little. Having to deal with life on her own for the first time ever, Cath navigates classes, boys, and a mentally ill father without her sister by her side. But at least Simon Snow fandom is always there for her.

It was cute. I’ll give it that. But my main issue was I never felt like the fandom aspect rang true. I felt like it looked at fandom through the same lens that The Big Bang Theory looks at nerds. That’s a bit harsh, and I certainly didn’t have the same issues about Fangirl as I have about TBBT, but it did feel a bit outside-looking-in.

There was also the issue that Cath only ever seemed to go through fairly superficial character development, and the side characters didn’t seem to have any. Levi, the main love interest, was basically just Amazing and Perfect, Wren was a typical party girl… I guess this is probably all pretty standard for YA, but as someone who doesn’t read a lot of contemporary, it stood out. Add to this the fact that some pretty loose ends were never tied up at the end, and I really couldn’t bring myself to give this more than 2.5 stars.

9 thoughts on “Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

  1. SarahClare says:

    I totally feel you on this one. I really really wanted to like this book. In fact, I wanted to love it.. and then I didn’t. And it was the ‘fangirl’ thing itself that I struggled with too. I liked Wren, I enjoyed her storyline.. but I just didn’t connect with Cather at all.

    Great post. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the book 🙂


  2. bookowly says:

    When I wrote my review of this book I felt like people will kill me, but it didn’t go as bad. Almost every single person loves this book, which makes it really hard to say something bad, but I feel you. I was also in the bubble of fanfics both writing and translating and the world was not described, it was just used to get readers and then to turn to a classic romance and family problems.

    That said, I read another book by Rowell – Eleanor & Park – and disliked that as well, giving up for her and her character, not story driven stories. I think I might giver her one more chance sometime in the future. But I don’t really get what’s the deal with Carry On – it is written not by Cath and not by Gemma, so it is a fanfiction of an original Gemma’s story that is fanfiction of Harry Potter and happens to have Cath’s fanfics title? How do you feel about going to Carry On?


    • Emily Witt says:

      You make some great points in your review; I realise I totally forgot to mention how much it annoyed me that Harry Potter was mentioned in the books, because I feel that the last 15 years don’t have room for two series to be that popular.

      I’m not going to worry about Carry On, I kind of feel like it’s one big in-joke? I read a couple of reviews that said it really wasn’t that fleshed out because it was the “last” book in a series, and we were supposed to already know what was going on, except we don’t, because it’s a standalone book. I think that would be in the back of my mind too much for me to actually get into the story.

      Liked by 1 person

      • bookowly says:

        I actually have seen many people say that it is the best book of the year, which is the only reason I am somewhat considering to read Carry On at all. It feel like Rainbow didn’t think it through or she just hoped that her fame and Fangirl’s popularity will be enough to make the sales.


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