[Book Review] Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever since I saw the blurb for this some three months ago, I immediately decided that I would bump it to the top of my to-read list when it came out. It’s not just because it was a book about being a fangirl and fangirling (which is extremely rare–if there are even any books about this) but also because the fandom described was obviously based on Harry Potter and I couldn’t wait to see how the author tackled this concept.

Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did. I have been a fangirl since before I knew the term (and how being a ‘stan’, ‘fangirl’ and ‘fanboy’ is different from being a ‘fan’)–from animanga, to Harry Potter, to Asian boybands. So I was ready for it to be a book from the point of view of a casual fan, or someone who has extensively researched fandoms but not for someone who was/is truly entrenched in the fandom. I’m glad that this book exceeded my expectations, fully diving into the realm of fandom–and the people in it. Especially slash fandom. From the feelings of being marginalized (‘deviant’) for either liking/writing slash when one is straight or even being still in fandom after the age of fourteen, this book tackled it all.

I was worried though, that if I did end up really liking this book, it would be solely for the Simon Snow fandom bits and not the protagonist’s story, which held until the middle and gradually dissolved.

Cath suffers from crippling anxiety that will probably seem extreme for casual readers. Her fears might sound exaggerated to some people (“normal” or rather, well-adjusted people) but I’ve met people online who have the same amount (sometimes even more) of anxiety than she does and coupled with her fandom life, I found her to be a very relatable protagonist. She was a great narrator for a journey of growing up, growing apart, staying the same, finding what you love, learning to work on what you’re good at, holding on.

Now excuse me while I draw my Harry Potter-Simon Snow parallels. I’m putting it under a spoiler tag, not because it’s actually a spoiler, but to protect the eyes of those who don’t know that this slash ship is a huge ship in HP fandom.

(view spoiler)

And 2 things because I am nitpicky:

– Agitated or nervous, all characters clench their fists. ALL OF THEM. Not everybody has the same mannerisms but in this book, they do.
– Slash aside, there is virtually no difference between the Simon Snow written by the author and the fanfiction Cath writes. The ‘voice’ is the same–it would have been more realistic if it wasn’t. Even the Simon Snow excerpts and the Fangirl book are written the same way (parentheses popping up around 30% through the book until the end) (See what I did there).

But overall it is a funny, tongue-in-cheek book about growing up, fandom, relationships and dealing. I shed tears.

View all my reviews


One thought on “[Book Review] Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell”

  1. Great review! I really loved Fangirl, but I’m not at all experienced with fandom, so it was a total learning experience for me. I agree that it was kind of annoying that Gemma’s Simon and Cath’s Simon did have the same voice. (I didn’t notice the parentheses the first time around, but now that you mention it, I see what you mean.)


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