Friday, February 07, 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Entirely reliant on a fictional series and her fiercely independent sister, a young woman Cath learns how to navigate her own fangirl interests during her freshman year at college. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is an enjoyable and highly relateable book for Generation(s) XYZ.

If you're addicted to any kind of fandom - televison, books, or movies - there is something or someone relatable within this young adult novel. The main character Cath is a welcoming reflection of anyone whose heart has been captured by a series and falls head over heels for its characters and world a little too deeply. Dedicated to the fictional Simon Snow series filled with vampires and magic (a wonderful nod to the Harry Potter phenomenon), Cath writes fanfiction followed by thousands of readers and creates an extension of her favorite world through her words.

Having been a homebody compared to her sisters' flirtatious and outgoing nature, Cath enters her freshman year of college where plenty of self-doubts and fears pile up. Cath's relationship with her twin sister Wren grows increasingly apart as their shared fandom becomes a distant memory and their relationship with the emotionally frantic father becomes a constant worry on her mind. Attending an advanced Fiction Writing class her ability to draw the line between Gemma. T. Leslie's world and her own becomes a challenge. With a hotheaded sarcastic roommate Reagan, and an ex-boyfriend Levi who never seems to run out of smiles, Cath experiences anxieties about letting her geek flag fly in this new world of strangers and acquaintances who all seem to be too busy for the fandom she is reluctant to leave behind.

What I enjoyed most is that the book doesn't challenge the passion of geek culture with an obstrusively critical point of view. Through Cath's socially awkward exterior and rapturously charming wit, her personality and experiences are something we as young adults have all gone through or at some point eventually will - falling for the wrong crushes, making small leaps to put our true selves out there in different experiences and coming into our own with close groups of new friends. The book observes the fanperson's perspective and questions the "real worlds" perspective about the level of fandom some people believe is too much.

Where readers may find the book so startling similar is the nods to the well-known series Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. Interspersed throughout each chapter, Rowell includes small paragraphs of the Simon Snow series written by the faux author Gemma T. Leslie as well as fanfiction work written by the main character. The characters are humorous clones of well-known literature icons like Harry Potter, Draco Malfoy, and Hermione Granger. Rowell's nod to the magical series not only has nearly identical summary but also brings up well-discussed fandom debates. Through a variety of characters there are enlightening deliberations and perspectives about what it means to be a true fan; reading the books, seeing the movies, doing both. Through Cath's raptured involvement in a series' journey reaching its grand finale, to the simplicity of the prose, the novel is contagious and entertaining.

Familiarity for any young adult is not easy to say goodbye to whether it's family or fandom. As a fellow college student and Potterhead, Fangirl was something that I couldn't put down. Every time I picked up the book, I felt like Cath was me and vice versa. To an extent I felt myself becoming a thorough fangirl of Rowell's work.

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