2014 EVENTS:
Holly Bourne, Non Pratt and James Dawson - 30th October
Becca Fitzpatrick - 15th November

Sunday, 20 April 2014

GUEST REVIEW: Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

Sunday, 20 April 2014
PAGES: 480
PUBLISHER: Macmillan
FORMAT: Paperback
BUY IT: Waterstones
RATING: 5 Stars

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate 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. Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible...

People always see me reading books around school and a lot of people don’t know me that well, so to start a conversation they usually ask me what my favourite book is. In the past, I have never been able to answer it properly because I’ve never had a definite favourite, I love so many books and it’s hard to just choose one. Also this person would also judge me based on the book I say, so I always chose carefully. But ever since last September, the answer to this question was clear. Fangirl is my favourite book. Then of course, a lot of people who I talk to have never heard of the book so they ask why I like it so much. I still do not know how to answer this question, because there are many reasons as to why I love this book. I recently discovered that my goodreads review isn’t exactly great because I didn’t know what to write. So this is my first proper review as to why I love this book. I’ll try to make it as non-spoilery as possible but just to make sure only read on if you have read the book.

Rainbow Rowell has this way of writing which I absolutely love. Before reading Fangirl, I had read Eleanor and Park and that’s how I got excited about the release of Fangirl. Eleanor and Park was a great and lovely book that really hit me with the feels. What I loved about Eleanor and Park was that she made me feel like I could relate to the characters, despite being nothing like them. During Eleanor and Park, I felt a special connection to both characters and this made me excited for Fangirl. But this isn’t a review of Eleanor and Park, that shall be for another post.

Fangirl started off with a sentence that just captured me right away and after reading the first page I couldn’t put it down.
There was a boy in her room.
Now I understand that isn’t exactly the best opening sentence but what caught my attention was the way that Cath reacted. Going into this book, I had a feeling I would be able to relate to the main character somehow, but I didn’t think she would be almost an exact replica of me and that’s what I loved. My experience with fangirls, led me to believe that they aren’t generally like me. I’m used to encountering the sort of fangirls who scream and cry at everything to do with their fandom, which attracts attention. I’m the sort of girl who hides behind my books and prefers to go unnoticed. And that is exactly what Cath was like, as you could tell from her reaction to there being a boy in her room. She froze and panicked and went silent, which is exactly what I would do. This then got me interested in the book and I flew through the first few chapters quickly.

This is generally how the book went for me. Cath would think or say something and I would be surprised at how much I was like her. When life wasn’t great she immersed herself in her fandom. I do the same thing but I just collapse onto my bed with a good book, whereas she writes fanfiction.

“For these hours when their world supplanted the real world. When she could just ride their feelings for each other like a wave, like something falling downhill.”

From what I know, there was only a few differences between me and Cath. She was starting college in this book,whereas I am still in secondary school. This of course, changed things but not that much.Having moved schools, I understand what its like to go somewhere where everyone else knows whats going on and what you should do, except you. This quote from the book backs this point up:
In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)
I get where Cath was coming from with this because when I went to my new school, no teacher explained where I was allowed to sit in the library or dining hall. And if there was specific areas for specific year groups and friendship groups. And I couldn’t exactly google that, could I?

Another difference between Cath and I, is that she writes and reads fanfiction. I had never really gotten into fanfiction as I didn’t see the point in it. A lot of people constantly told me that I couldn’t be a proper fangirl unless I read fanfiction, but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to read someone else’s work, just to carry on a story. The last key difference between Cath and me is the fact that Cath has a twin sister who is no longer an extreme fangirl. I don’t have a twin sister, but I do have a sister who got me into my fandoms and we do fangirly things together. My sister is still a fangirl, but we don’t necessarily obsess over the same things anymore. She’s 18 now and according to her she’s too old to be reading YA books(which I think is ridiculous because all the major booktubers who read YA are 18 and older) and she’d rather read Game of Thrones and obsess over musicals. So I’m not going through the same things as Cath in terms of Wren. Cath felt like she had lost a part of her, when Wren left the fandom but I haven’t gone through that.
I don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off.
Cath was also very like me in the sense that she had trust issues. I have never fully been able to trust anybody for the very reason that Cath doesn’t trust anybody. In the past, the closer I’ve gotten to people, the further away they go and it sucks. But having Cath experience a similar thing made me feel like I wasn’t alone in this.
Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and mildly socially retarded, I’m a complete disaster.
Cath wasn’t perfect, and that’s what I loved about her. Rainbow Rowell didn’t write characters who were perfect in every way, she wrote real characters and that’s another reason why I love her writing style. Cath was impulsive and she constantly ran away from difficult situations and ran away from herself and how she felt. And I know you are probably bored of hearing this, but I do exactly the same thing. When things start to get scary or bad, I run. Not literally but I tend to just hide away from everything and hide myself in my books. That isn’t exactly a good thing, I know but that’s just how I am and seeing that Cath was the same made me feel like I could do things and do well in my life, even though I’m a social disaster.

I haven’t even started on the perfection that was Levi. Levi was amazing and he gave me hope that there is guys out there for all us crazy fangirls. Levi was perfect for Cath and he made her feel more confident and let her come out of her shell, but still let her stay the way she is. He didn’t judge her for her fangirly ways and he didn’t judge the fact that sometimes she just wanted to spend time with her fandom. He was accepting and lovely. I love the way that Rainbow Rowell wrote him. He was the strong confident person in the book, but he was also vulnerable. Finding out that he couldn’t read a book just broke me. Levi didn’t show any weak points until that moment when he just couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t imagine not being able to read and honestly it just made me love him even more. Honestly, right now I’m hoping there are people out there who are like Levi

This book has given me so much confidence and changed me. After reading this book, I decided that I need to be proud of who I am and not just hide myself. and I am eternally grateful to Rainbow Rowell for this. She has given me so much confidence and she doesn’t even know who I am.

I haven’t even talked about the large amount of references to my fandoms in this book. All the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings references were amazing and made the book even more real. Like seriously, this book could have been written for me.

- Sofia.

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