This Month's BBRBF Bookclub choice was Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell selected by Lyndsey. I want to preface this review by saying that this book didn't start on a fair playing field with me. Young Adult fiction is not my thing and the concept of this particular book never interested me. So, bear with me here.
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Despite the fact that I loved Landline by the same author, I could not get myself to enjoy this book. There was nothing egregious about it. I could feel snippets of Rainbow Rowell's humorously true-to-life style scattered throughout the book, but it fell flat with me. The story was too simple and I never felt challenged or excited about anything that happened to the characters. I will not say it was a bad book because I bet I would have really enjoyed it at 14. But, I'm not 14 anymore and I want to read books written for adults.
I will also admit that I am not into fan fiction and a bulk of this book exists in that curious world of fandom. There were fake excerpts at the beginning of every chapter and parts of the book where Cath read her fanfiction aloud and every single time it made me grit my teeth. I have zero investment in these fake books. I don't need to break from the story to read about a half imagined Harry Potter knock-off.
What I did enjoy about the book were a few lines that were the pure Rainbow Rowell observations that I fell in love with while reading Landline. My favorite was how she noted that the difference between nerds and other people is that nerds will always love a fictitious world more than the real one. My husband is definitely a nerd and while I enjoy much of the same media, I am decidedly not a nerd and reading that was a real moment of realization for me. I also connected with how she said love doesn't happen in the heart, it happens in the stomach because, yes, that's exactly how it feels!
And the one solid compliment I will give to the book is the mother's character. I was expecting to have that story line wrapped up in a nice little box, but it wasn't and that was so real. Often times books will give in to the fantasy of having an estranged parent return and all wrongs will be righted by their undying love. But, that's just not life. Most of the time parents who abandon their children do it because they are deeply flawed and a few years isn't going to change who they are as people. Allowing Cath and Wren to experience that difficult truth was a big gold star from me.
If you haven't noticed already, my outfit was inspired by Cath's outfit on the cover of the book. It was exactly the kind of outfit I would wear to read at the coffee shop so it was pretty much perfect. I added the killer heels and grey lipstick as a nod to the toughy, edgy Reagan, who, in my opinion, was the best character in the book.
Make sure to check out the other BBRBF Bookclub babes for their reviews of Fangirl, including two brand new book-loving fashionistas and a brand new blog name for Kristina!
Next month we will be reading We are Pirates by Daniel Handler if you want to read along!