Thursday, 12 June 2014

My Thoughts On: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


(That'll make sense in a minute)

I'm back for another review! I was instantly drawn to this one after hearing of it from various people, so let's dive straight in.

Cath and Wren are identical twins and until recently they did everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair anymore  - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She would rather bury herself in the fanfiction she writes where there's romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible. 

Now the reason for the tumblr speak is probably apparent. For my birthday I had the pleasure of receiving 'Fangirl' by Rainbow Rowell. 

Instantly after reading the blurb, you're likely to be thinking one of three things. 1) OMG the same one shy/ one outgoing twin plot again?! 2) OMG I'm totally like Cath!!1 3) OMG intense romance?! I'm so in! 

Okay - maybe not as passionately - but those are the kind of thoughts going through my brain (minds out of gutters please on number 3) when I first caught site of the gorgeous cover and illustrations to match. With 2014 in full swing, and the internet becoming an ever present feature in modern life, I think Rowell's struck gold here. Managing to keep the subject not only extremely current, but relatable too, she's able to tap into her market and appeal to teenage internet addicts across the globe. 

If you have mindset number one however, you might need some more convincing to actually open the book. While the twin plot line has been very overused (Double Trouble by good ol' Jacqueline Wilson anyone?) I think this is another clever ploy from the author. While the book is centered mostly around Cath, she's covered all bases. Extrovert? Latch onto Wren. Prefer staying indoors and getting as little Vitamin D as possible? Opt for Cath. It's up to you - both characters are extremely realistic and although Wren can be a bit harsh sometimes, the relationship between the sisters is often palpable. Wren isn't a constant presence throughout the book, but she does what she knows best: explores. Rowell's got family life down to a tea, and it's something I savored as I turned each page. 

Coupled with this is skillful story telling. The style fits with the genre of the book - there's no over egged description which the pace light, like well whipped cream. Third person/past works brilliantly as if the author had used first person I think Cath could've become needy - something definitely not appreciated by readers. It’s another refreshing angle, as not many character based books seem to use this POV but it's effective and helps us see all angles of the story.

So, we’ve got a relatable story and a cast of great secondary as well as main characters. Still need convincing? Okay – how many books that you’ve read within the past year, have romance that make your toes curl with cuteness? Well, I guess that depends if you’re a fangirl yourself, but with my fairly cynical approach to fictional romance, I was melting with happiness when I read certain scenes in Fangirl. I think this is linked again to the style and story-telling. Not to spoil anything for you, but the scene in particular I’m referring to is when Cath reads the entirety of ‘The Outsiders’ to Levi in one evening for an assignment. The atmosphere is captured perfectly – everything is so soft and subtle and delicate. I could read this chapter over and over out of context and it’s still just as beautiful as the first.


Not wanting to be too biased, I've racked my brains to come up with points to balance this review. The first of which being the fan fiction. Between chapters, readers are treated to snippets of Cath's  Harry Potter-esque fan fiction. While the writing at the beginning was enjoyable, it quickly became tiresome. Although I applaud Rowell for trying to weave a completely new story in a fantasy world into the real one, I found myself counting the pages to get back to Cath's plot. I guess this could be seen as a compliment to the author because the main story was so enthralling I was desperate to get the next installment.

The second thing, was the slightly linear  plot. There were no huge twists or turns, and although I couldn't particularly predict the ending, Cath's problems were often solved within a couple of chapters. While I realize the story was mainly character based, and they definitely strung the plot together, I would've liked some twist towards the end to leave me shocked. 

In summary: 'Fangirl' is a thoroughly enjoyable, light but fluffy romance. I think fangirls of the world have certainly related to Cath, and Levi definitely worked his charm on me! Four and a half stars.

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