Fangirl

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell *An ARC was provided by St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review*

Fangirl was my first contemporary read in over ten years (no joke!) - I've made it no secret that my reading habits always tend to lead me towards fantasy/sci-fi books. Naturally, this was also my first experience with author Rainbow Rowell and I have to start off by giving her props for creating such living, breathing and incredibly relatable characters that not only tugged at my heartstrings, but kept me engaged till the very last page.

Not surprisingly, I was attracted to the fan-fiction aspect of Fangirl. I consider myself as being a part of many fandoms, so I was intrigued by the idea of a main character who is as obsessive as I am. Now I've never read *that* much HP fan-fic - I always preferred just re-reading the series instead -but I have read some. Reading this book kind of made me wish I'd been on board with all that HP-fic when it was going down. I did find it a bit odd that this Simon Snow character was clearly supposed to be a reference to Harry Potter but that HP still existed in this world...but beyond that I thought the fandom aspect here was very well done. It was especially entertaining to me that the MC Cath's fan-fic was all about Simon and Baz together, especially going in knowing all about Harry/Draco fan-fics out there! I do think that Simon/Baz would have been adequate Harry/Draco substitutes and that the real Harry Potter world wouldn't have needed referencing here at all, but this is a minor issue, so let's move on...

I want to talk about the characters because to me, this is where Fangirl shines. Starting with the main character Cath. I can not tell you in any words that I possess how much my heart went out to Cath. I just can't. She was so unbelievably relatable to me, her awkwardness, her anxiety, her obsessive fangirling, her antisocialness. All of it just spoke to me, especially the 'me' at Cath's age in Fangirl, fresh out of high school and starting Uni with all her quirks and issues. And while I was never quite as far gone as Cath was, I could certainly relate to her issues all too well. I just wanted to wrap my arms around her and hold her...if I knew that doing that wouldn't have made her uncomfortable of course ;-)

So yeah, Cath goes off on her own and has to deal with so many things she's clearly not ready to face. Being on her own, dealing with a new roommate, classmates, teachers, PEOPLE. Because of her social anxiety, she escapes into fanfiction as a way of dealing (or not dealing) with her issues. As much as her struggles hurt my heart and made me tear up a few times, I was rooting for her. Hard. Despite all the obstacles she faced, I still found Cath to be quite brave -and I admired her a lot for it. She was also intelligent, observant, honest and caring. She's easily one of the MC's I've most identified with in recent memory and I just love her for it.

Besides Cath, there is a host of likeable characters to be had here. From Regan, Cath's tough and sometimes harsh roommate, Wren, Cath's twin sister who's got her own issues to deal with. And then there's this boy. Levi. I'm not even going to start on Levi since it will cue endless gushing and 'awwww'-ing. Even though he infuriated me for a bit there, I was rooting for him too. I just really loved all of these characters dearly and to me they were the real heart of this book; it's core. They were all incredibly human and memorable characters and I couldn't get enough of them Whether they were study buddies, teachers or parents, they were all so real and I loved getting to know every single one of them - even the ones that I didn't like.The writing style in Fangirl was compulsively readable. It made me laugh out loud at times, tear up at others and it even had me wanting to stand up and cheer a few times! The banter between the characters was adorable, swoon-worthy and had all the right ingredients to make you giggle one moment and sob the next. Yes this book brought on a lot of feels but it was so worth it in the end.

My only other concern here was how abruptly it seemed everything ended. Sometimes when a book ends, it's perfect but you don't want it to end. That wasn't the case here because to me it felt like everything stopped juuust short of their proper resolution. Or maybe I just needed more closure after growing to care for Cath and everyone else so much. To me, it seemed like the plot wrapped up too quickly in some places: like Cath's school project, her finishing up Simon Snow, the physical aspect of her romance... not to mention her ongoing issues with both parents. All of these issues felt like they deserved a bit more time story-wise to conclude in a truly satisfying way.

All things considered, this was a successful venture for me! Contemporaries aren't my strong suit, but I was still easily taken in by the witty dialogue and engaging characters. It also read a lot quicker than I was expecting and now that I've finished Fangirl, I feel like reading all the Rainbow Rowell books! Although knowing me, I'll need to space them out with a few fantasy reads in between ;-)

This review was previously featured on my blog: Photobucket