Hooray for rock-solid contemporary YAs. Or I guess, technically, this is New Adult. But either way, it was pretty dang good. Everyone told me that it was, and I was excited to read it, but I was a little afraid that I would end up being that one person who wasn’t impressed. Happily that wasn’t the case, and I loved this book from the first page.
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?
One of the things I appreciated most about this book is how well rounded it felt. Like, it wasn’t just about Cath’s relationship with Levi. It was also about her relationship with her sister and her father and her mother, as well as her relationship with her writing and her own anxieties. And I just really liked how balanced it all felt, like all the different aspects got just the right amount of time. I’ll admit I was surprised that the mother aspect didn’t play a bigger part, but I mean that as more of an observation than a critique.
Cath was a character I could relate to. She’s introverted and more comfortable with words than people, and I really felt for her each time she was in a situation that made her feel insecure or uncomfortable. And although Cath is standoffish towards the other characters in the book, I never felt like she was pushing me away as a reader—I wanted to be with her every step of the way.
Levi is one of those balls of exuberance and joy that are always so refreshing to find in YA/NA. He’s just so nice and so good to and for Cath. But at the same time, he doesn’t feel unrealistic. He’s not perfect, and that makes me like him even more. Plus, he had my favorite line from the book: “Are you rooting for me? Are you hoping I pull this off?” Swoon.
Baz and Simon—I was pretty much as invested in their story as I was in the main story. They’re both characters in a series of books that Cath loves, and interspersed throughout “Fangirl” are excerpts both from Cath’s fan fiction as well as from the “real” books that these characters come from. I was a little unsure at first how well these Simon and Baz excerpts would integrate with the main story, but I quickly forgot that worry. Because even though Baz is in love with Simon, I’m in love with Baz. I kind of really wish Cath’s Carry On, Simon story really existed so I could read all of it instead of just excerpts.
The one thing I wasn’t crazy about in “Fangirl” was the ending. It felt a little anti-climactic to me. Not that I was expecting huge action or something. I just mean that I was expecting it to end with a strong Cath and Levi scene, but instead it ended with two story excerpts, so I didn’t realize I’d hit the end until I was already there, and that always leaves me feeling a little restless—like there should’ve been more.
Overall, one of the better YA/NAs I’ve read this year. Except for that minor complaint about the ending (which admittedly was probably the fault of my own misguided expectations), I was impressed with how well done it all was. And did I mention it has a ridiculously adorable and perfect cover? It’s hands down my favorite cover so far this year.
Rating: 4.5 / 5