Cath is eighteen and about to start her first year of college. But she’s scared. Scared that her dad won’t cope without her. Scared that her twin sister Wren will abandon her. Scared that she won’t make any friends. Scared that nobody will understand her obsession with the Simon Snow series (The Simon Snow series is basically Harry Potter if Harry and Draco were roommates and Draco was a vampire). You see, Cath is a fangirl. She doesn’t just love Simon Snow, her life revolves around it. She’s gone to college as an English major, but the only thing she’s really interested in writing is ‘Carry On Simon Snow’, her wildly popular Simon Snow fic (a slash fic based on the relationship between Simon and Baz, Baz being the vampire roomie Draco equivalent).
Cath is content to spend her first year in her dorm, hidden away in fandom. But then her life gets totally complicated when a cute guy is actually interested in her, and she has to race the clock to finish her epic fic before the final Simon Snow book is released. Throw in a sister with developing alcoholism and a father having a bit of a breakdown, and suddenly Cath is way over her head.
What I really loved about the novel was that the author, Rainbow Rowell, is a total fangirl herself, so the voice is brilliantly authentic. Her author’s note reads:
I decided to write this book after reading a lot (I mean a lot) of fanfiction. Reading fic was a transformative experience for me – it changed the way I think about writing and storytelling, and helped me more deeply understand my own intense relationships with fictional worlds and characters. So thank you for writing it.
Too many authors choose to ignore fandom, or simply don’t understand it. For an author to not only understand fandom, but to admit to being an active part of it (unlike the other category who were once a part of it but now treat that part of their life as a dirty secret) is refreshing.
I also loved the excerpts from both the Simon Snow series and Cath’s own fic. I’m actually dying to read them now, if only they actually existed!
In fiction, we hardly ever hear from the fangirl perspective. Reading Fangirl was like looking into my life. In so many ways, I am Cath. Cath isn’t cool or unreasonably gorgeous; she’s gawky and awkward and really, really loves slash fic. Sure, she gets the guy in the end, but he loves her for her flaws instead of in spite of them. I could connect with Cath’s social anxiety on a deep level (when she fantasises about being locked overnight in the library I realised we were actually the same person). Rowell perfectly encapsulated what moving away for university is like, and how it changes everyone (even people like your BFF, or your twin).
Not every girl who reads Fangirl will understand Cath. Some, like many of the characters in the book, will be confused by her obsession. Then again, anybody picking up a book titled Fangirl is likely to be a fangirl themselves, and I have a feeling every one of them will recognise themselves in the pages.
Fangirl is available through Amazon or iBooks in Australia, or in hard copy in America.
frangipani princess xoxo