YA Review: Fangirl

Title: Fangirl
Author: Rainbow Rowell

This is another YA novel I should have read ages ago! The setup for Fangirl is very clever. Cath is starting her first year of university. She’s shy, socially awkward, and she’d rather stay in her room and write fan fiction than go to parties. Her twin sister Wren embraces the social side of college, and the two find themselves drifting apart.

Here’s the clever part – when she’s not completing assignments, Cath is one of the most popular authors of fan fiction for the Simon Snow books – a fictional series about a boy attending a school for magicians. She ships the main characters, changes their relationships with each other and with their fellow students – and she has thousands of fans. She’s writing her own version of the eighth and final book in the series, and she needs to post all her chapters on the fan fiction website before the official final book is published. Personal disasters, family emergencies, and college deadlines have to take second place to her creative project – but not everyone appreciates her devotion to Simon and Baz. Fangirl, and the extracts from Cath’s fan fiction included on the book, proved so popular that Rainbow Rowell went on to write full versions of Cath’s fan novels – Carry On and Wayward Son. It was fun to read the novel that started the series, and produced addictive fan fiction for books that don’t exist.

Just as the fictional fan fiction plays games with the reader’s expectations, Fangirl takes its characters in some unexpected directions. A story that could have followed a straightforward ‘shy girl writes books, makes mistakes with boys’ plot instead explores friendships, exploitative relationships, unconventional families, addiction, mental illness, and a wonderful moment of revenge. Definitely not what I was expecting, Fangirl plays with YA tropes, fandom, and storytelling to produce an emotional story, and – accidentally – an entirely new fandom. Carry on, Simon and Baz!

Have you read Fangirl? What did you think of the story? And what about the fan fiction extracts? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

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