Fangirling since 2004

I’d be lying if I said I could review this book subjectively. To be honest, I’ve wanted to pick this up for quite a while, but I couldn’t find it in the library, though I just realised I could borrow the ebook version through Overdrive, and I finished the entire book in an entire day.

The story is basically one of those ‘growing up and learning how to accept yourself etc’ type of stories:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, everybody is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath it’s something more. Fandom is life. It’s what got her and her sister, Wren, through losing their mom. It’s what kept them close.

And now that she’s starting college, introverted Cath isn’t sure what’s supposed to get her through. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fanfiction 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?

I can’t be subjective about Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl because, just like her main character, Cath, who is hugely involved in fandom as a highly popular fanfiction writer, I’m an avid devourer of fanfiction, though I don’t write much myself.

I remember staying up till 3 or 4 am just reading Harry Potter fanfiction, and then lying in bed for a couple of hours before dragging my sorry carcass to school, or mooning over Inception ships instead of focusing on what relationship I was involved in, and just reading a ton of Sterek when I could be catching up with friends instead.

I suppose I could easily just read other books rather than fanfiction, but sometimes you just need something different – you want to see how other writers reinvent the familiar characters and universes and marvel over how they made the original work better or at least something of their own, with their own twists and revelations.

While Cath had her annoying moments, I did find myself sympathizing with her. She felt like one of those realistic fictional characters, the kind you can imagine seeing on a college campus somewhere. Or maybe that’s because I’ve had insight into some of fic writers’ lives and minds.

I did enjoy the parts about her family, it was pretty drama, but I do like the close knit relationships she has with her dad, and I felt vindicated that she doesn’t reunite with her mother who had left her and her sister when they were 8. I’m sorry, I’m spiteful like that, if you walk out on me, that’s it to everything.

I’m not too invested in her relationship with Levi though it was cutesy and all, but it didn’t feel especially special or anything.

To be honest, the main reason I read Fangirl is because I wanted to read Carry On:

Because this is the fanfiction that Cath has been working on in Fangirl, and now it’s an actual book, which is so meta, in a sense? Like a fictional book series in a book has created a real work in our world? I’m probably not explaining it clearly, but duuuuude, it’s just way cool, and I want to see Simon Snow and Baz snogging for real. Because that’s basically Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, and we all know where I stand with that ship. Standing at the deck, proudly waving my shipper flag before going down and dying on this vessel.

And this is what I want from my fanfiction, because even though the actual source material might be angsty and painful and tragic, I know somewhere someone is making things better.

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