If there is one thing that has come out of reading Fangirl it was acknowledging that my suspicions were correct all along. I loved Fangirl. It was the kind of book that I expected I would like, but it went and exceeded my expectations.
It’s rare that I feel so deeply connected to a book. I may not have a twin, or some of the family issues Cath had, but I was able to relate to her on a level that to date has been unparalleled. There were so many aspects of her personality and her experiences that I felt I could relate to. Yet, at the same time her experiences were different from my own. Cath is awkward, shy, a bit mean, but really caring. She loves what she loves and isn’t afraid of that. That doesn’t mean interacting with people is easy for her. She keeps to herself and doesn’t ask for help, but comes to learn over the book.
This is a heavily character driven novel. There is not much plot. There are through lines and different things in her life that go through a period of change. However, the largest plot line has to do with Cath wanting to get her fanfiction “Carry On” finished before the release of the final Simon Snow book. You are pulled through the story as things keep happening in her life. If you really need a strong plot, this is not going to be the book for you. This is a book where you invest in the characters and their journey. If you don’t like them it isn’t going to work out for you because the plot is so very loose.
That said, I totally loved the characters. As I mentioned, I really related to Cath, but I enjoyed the other characters as well. Reagan was the roomate I wished I always had. There was a level of sass to her character that just worked with her air of not caring whatsoever. Cath’s twin Wren was a bit wild and frustrating at times. Despite being frustrated and annoyed along with Cath, over time I came to like her a bit more. Wren’s growth was interesting to see a personality so different from Cath reeling from her actions as she tried to become her own person. At times it was painful to watch and that just made it feel more real.Cath’s dad was fantastic. It was great to see a sort of parent figure that felt like a parent in the sense that I more closely experienced. Someone who cares for you so much, but is also willing to let you go out there and make mistakes, only reeling it in when necessary. That relationship felt so genuine and properly fleshed out that I really enjoyed it.
Then there is Levi, on glorious Levi. I fell in love with him. There was something sweet about him. His humor was fantastic. He was always doing things ofr Cath, but he always felt real. He wasn’t completely perfect, though he was pretty close. It was nice seeing someone grow to care for Cath and embrace her for who she was. It was one of those romances, that I felt completely invested in and enjoyed getting glimpses of their moments together because they were just so well suited for each other.
I wanted to take a moment to talk about Carry On. It played a huge role in the story even if it was sometimes relegated to the background. Cath’s relationship with her fanfiction was interesting. However that was most compelling when it crossed with her lack of desire to write her own fiction. It was an interesting topic to explore. Her dealing with that juxtaposition was difficult, yet in some ways understandable. It was ultimately another lesson for Cath to learn, and she learned many in her first year.
When you really think back at Cath from her first day, to Cath at the end of the book it’s interesting to see how much she changed and became more comfortable in her own skin. And also compare all the ways she managed to stay the same as well.
Let’s get my one problem with the novel out of the way. It is the only reason that this book didn’t get a full 5 stars. Like many contemporaries, I didn’t get any sense of closure. The book pretty much just ended. I wanted there to be a bit more. I wanted to know how Cath’s year finished off. I wanted to know how certain elements that had been a large portion of the story finished. In particular her writing class. This was a big part of the novel and it got largely pushed to the side in the second half and hinted at near the end, but never completely closed.
Other than that one bit I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was one of those joys that as soon as I closed it I wanted to read it again.