Monday, October 21, 2013

YA Book Pick: FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

Once a month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!

This month's Book Pick is FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. 

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction 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?

First Line: "There was a boy in her room."

This is a great first line, because it sets up the conflict immediately. Our viewpoint character is someone who isn't comfortable having boys in her room. The next few lines make it clear that Cath has just arrived at her new dorm and is sort of freaking out about the newness of everything.

Highlights: Gosh, where to start? First, let me say that I devoured this book. I literally couldn't put it down. My YA fiction taste tends to skew more speculative, but this contemporary novel completely won me over (much like ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins--also highly recommended).

I gushed about Rainbow Rowell nailing the teenage voice in my review of her last book, ELEANOR & PARK. This book is even better. Cath, her sister Wren, the boys in her life, her roommate Reagan--any one of them could have stepped right out of life and into her book. The central romance is sweet without being cloying or sappy. Cath's fears and doubts about her love life will ring true for anyone, not just eighteen-year-olds.

The author's take on the subject of fandom and fanfiction writing is gentle, but also realistic. As someone who spent her teenage years obsessed with the TV show The X-Files, I saw a lot of myself in Cath. I think a lot of readers will be able to relate to this, no matter what their age.

A Good Read For: YA contemporary/romance writers searching for great examples of teenage voice or a slow-build romantic relationship. Although the book was marketed as YA rather than New Adult, it is set in the first year of college and therefore might be of interest to NA writers as well.


  1. I may have to pick this up soon (despite my many books piled up that I haven't read yet). I just read Eleanor and Park, thought it wouldn't live up to the hype, but it's one of those that really lingers and sticks with you. Eleanor was not very likeable in my eyes, she was so difficult, but I had mad sympathy for her. And Park. Swoonsz.

    Also, I confess, I was also obsessed with The X Files! I came to it a little late (season 5 I think) and spent a lot of time catching up on old reruns and renting episodes on video (wow, I feel old). It was one of those things I just started to get into and suddenly people were buying me Agent Mulder action figures, episode guides, calendars... I still have a giant movie poster from Fight the Future. My husband and I just watched the whole series this year on Netflix, there were a bunch of season 1 -2 episodes I'd never seen. I admit, we are stuck midway through season 9, it's downright painful. I'd like to make it through.

    1. Oh yay, another X-Files nut! Season 9 was atrocious--I still haven't seen it all the way through either. I have the comic books, the action figures, the episode guides, the trading card games, etc. too.

      Definitely try Fangirl. I liked it even better than Eleanor & Park, and I thought that one was very good.