Friday, March 21, 2014

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

After reading Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, I wanted to read more books by her. So I eagerly ordered Fangirl from Barnes and Noble.

Fangirl  is one of the few novels in the young adult genre that takes place in a college setting.  I have even found that some YA novels are taking on a spin off genre-new adult. 

When I opened the novel and started reading, I stumbled across a fictional Wikipedia entry explaining who Simon Snow is. 

We are introduced to Cath and Wren Avery, who have been Simon Snow fans since childhood.  Cath and Wren would dress up for movie premieres, hang out in the forums, and write fanfiction.  Cath still writes fanfiction, while Wren is ready to move on from it all. 

Simon Snow fandom helped the girls to cope with their mother leaving when they were eight years old on September 11th.  Yes, that September 11th

Reading Fangirl reminded me of my college years.  I didn’t go away to college or live in the dorm.  However, I can recall the days of writing papers, stressing out about finals, etc.  I also remember feeling totally out of place when I first started school.

Cath and Wren are starting their first year of college at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.  Wren doesn’t want to be Cath’s roommate, and wishes to live separate lives.  Cath ends up with an older roommate, Reagon, who thinks that she is weird because of the Simon Snow fandom.

There are many layers to this novel.  Cath develops an unlikely friendship with Levi, Reagon’s ex-boyfriend.   (He spent a lot of time in her room anyway). 

Cath and Wren’s relationship suffer throughout the course of the school year.  Although Wren is making friends, she develops a drinking problem and parties too much. 

I ‘m not sure if she does this because she thinks it is what you suppose to do in college or to deal with her estranged mother trying to come back into their lives.

Of course, there is the whole Simon Snow layer.  I personally don’t care for Simon Snow because he reminds me too much of Harry Potter based on the fictional Wikipedia excerpt.  I have never been into the fantasy genre. 

In my opinion, the fanficition and book excerpts were unnecessary to me. I didn’t see how these excerpts related to Cath and Wren’s story.  However, I believe that Rainbow Rowell felt that including the excerpts were necessary and helped the story to make sense. 

Cath is taking an advanced fiction writing class.  She decides to turn in one of her Simon Snow fanfiction stories as her assignment.  Professor Piper considers Cath’s story as plagiarism and thinks that fanfiction is the end of civilization.  Cath gets upset and throws an emergency dance party of one.  This emergency dance party consists of Cath dancing to Kanye West songs.

What?  I didn’t picture Cath listening to hip hop music.  Yes, I know, I never judge a book by its cover.
Cath doesn’t believe that she can write her own stories outside of the Simon Snow world.  As the semester progresses, Cath procrastinates about writing her final project.  It is forgotten when she has to return home for a family emergency.  The writing project is forgotten until Cath sees her report card.  Professor Piper understands Cath’s circumstances and gives her a second chance.  

What annoys me about Cath is that she still proscrastinates on the writing the story for her fiction writing class.  She still doesn’t think that she can write an original story.  She is so invested in writing Simon Snow fanfic, she waits to the last minute to write it.  I wanted to yell at Cath and shake some sense into her, Simon Snow can wait. Your project can’t..   I think that she takes Simon Snow too seriously. Which seems very obvious from I have written here so far.

I believe that Professor Piper gave Cath a second chance because she saw potential in her.  Despite the ups and downs of her family life, Cath kept a 4.0 GPA, stayed in her room to study, and didn’t miss class unless she had to.  If Cath was a slacker, she would not have received a second chance.   How many professors/teachers/instructors give their students a second chance? Not many.

The reason why I was interested in reading this story is because I am always interested in reading stories about writers-famous or not yet famous. 

Cath calls it writer’s block, but in Cath’s case does it turn into laziness or procrastination?
For Cath, I think that it was overall procrastination or avoidance.  She had a lot to deal with because of  Wren’s drinking problem and other family problems, and adjusting to college overall.  I think believe that writing class was good for Cath because it  forced her to step outside the world of Simon Snow.

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