Book Review: Fangirl

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Image: Goodreads

Rating: 3 out of 5

What’s worse? Not liking a book that everybody loves by an author you’ve never read before, or by an author you already respect? I’ve experienced both circumstances this past year, and the latter is far more disappointing.

After falling in love with Eleanor & Park, I knew that I had to read more from beloved author Rainbow Rowell. Fangirl seemed like another slam dunk: a coming-of-age story about an introverted writer of fanfiction, something that’s right up my alley. But the more I kept reading, the more I realized: great premise, terrible execution.

Let’s the discuss the fanfiction first. I’m no stranger to the genre; in fact, I read a ton of fanfics in high school, usually about Harry Potter. Fanfiction.net currently has over 757,000 Harry Potter fanfics—by far the most popular subject—so it’s not surprising that Rowell created a Harry Potter lookalike with Simon Snow.

The problem is that Simon Snow comes off as a cheap knockoff and becomes more of a distraction. Even worse, the fanfiction excerpts between chapters do not move the plot forward whatsoever, so I found myself skipping over them. Why read about a subpar copycat when the real wizard wunderkind already exists?

I appreciated that Cath’s fanfiction of choice was slash, meaning that her characters were gay even though their original counterparts were not. The “slash” refers to the relationship or “ship” of the story. For example, I enjoy reading Harry Potter slash fanfics that ship Remus/Sirius, Harry/Draco, and Hermione/Ginny.

But let’s be honest with ourselves. I bet that the vast majority of fanfics in existence are erotic in nature, so imagine the letdown I felt knowing that Cath was a virginal ball of nerves and the only wand-waving her fanfiction featured was of the literal variety.

I would have much preferred if Fangirl catered more to adults than young adults because I am now way too old to find Cath’s anxiety about kissing a boy endearing. Everyone around her is telling her to grow up, and so was I.

This is probably an unpopular opinion, but despite being an underdog, Cath is goddamn annoying. She uses her social anxiety to justify being rude to people and acts high-and-mighty when it comes to premarital sex and even the slightest amount of underage drinking. I can empathize with the struggle to make friends in college and survive small talk, but goodness, Cath should get herself a therapist, pronto.

What also frustrated me about Cath was that this supposed do-gooder cannot complete an original writing assignment if her life depended on it. Or at the very least, her grades, since she flat-out refuses to follow instructions. She thinks that she’s such a special snowflake because she can’t create her own characters. Cry me a river. I cannot imagine that any actual writers of fanfiction think or act this way.

Rowell is a master at writing honest interactions between characters, and it’s the supporting actors that save this story from being a complete flop. Levi is an absolute gem who deserves a better love interest, and Reagan the roommate should have been the star of the show. All the members of Cath’s immediate family, from her bipolar dad and estranged mom to her hard-partying twin sister Wren, were more interesting than she was, and toward the end, I was so desperate for this book to have multiple POVs. Anything to get out of the head of a naive girl who’d rather die of malnutrition than ask where the cafeteria is located.

Eleanor & Park was a heartbreakingly beautiful tale of high school sweethearts that felt real, featuring a girl who faced trauma and was forced to mature far past her age. Compared to Eleanor, Cath is a whiny child who sees everything in black and white and avoids her problems instead of overcoming them.

Don’t get me wrong: Rainbow Rowell is an excellent author, and my irritation with Fangirl’s protagonist is proof that she can unlock an emotional response. Unfortunately, I’m guessing that my response was not the intended one. I think to save myself from future disappointment, I’ll stick to Rowell’s adult novels from now on.

The Book Club Babe is Back!

“America’s Next Top Model” will also be back this month, but sadly without runway diva, Miss. J.

Hi everyone!

As much as I’d like to say that I conquered NaNoWriMo, I have to confess that I spent last month’s hiatus preoccupied with another major task…getting a new job! Between resumes and cover letters, I didn’t leave much writing time for my novel. In fact, I only clocked about 300 words on the first day of the challenge before life took over. I know..excuses, excuses! But I hope those of you fellow Wrimos crushed it on my behalf!

I’ve only been sitting at my new desk for a few days, so you’ll have to wait a little longer while I get acclimated before I can tackle my blogging backlog. This month, I’ll be focusing on my final four book reviews, then publishing my 2016 wrap-up before the new year.

I’m currently reading the oh-so-popular young-adult novel Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, so I’m excited to learn what all the fuss is about! You should also keep an eye out for my reviews on these other books:

If you’ve already finished these stories, then please let me know what you think of them! It goes without saying that I’m also taking recommendations for what to read in 2017, so share your favorites in the comments!

Book reviews coming soon!

Book reviews coming soon!

Top Ten Books on My Spring TBR List

Meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! So far, I’ve read six books in 2015, so I’m ahead of schedule for completing my annual reading quota of 20 books. Today’s Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, is about the stories on the top of our TBR (to-be-read) list this spring.

  

Currently reading:

1. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
2. Beowulf translated by J.R.R. Tolkien
3. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

We all have TBR lists that are miles long, but I’ll start with the three that I’m currently reading. Bet Me and Beowulf have been put on hold, so I can finish The Buried Giant before I meet author Kazuo Ishiguro! The book signing is less than three weeks away, so it’s crunch time!

  

   

Will be reading:

4. The Gendarme by Mark Mustian
5. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
6. When in Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison
7. Perfectly Matched by Heather Webber
8. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
9. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The next four books that I’ve listed are ones that I have already purchased and are waiting for me on my shelf. I’m particularly excited about The Gendarme, since its subject matter will coincide with the centennial commemoration of the Armenian Genocide next month. I have yet to buy Flowers from the Storm and Fangirl, but they come so highly recommended that it’s only a matter of time before they’re added to the shopping cart!

Bonus! Non-fiction:

10. Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: 16 Writers on Their Decision Not to Have Kids by Meghan Daum

Lastly, I don’t officially count non-fiction toward my quota, but I can’t wait to get my hands on Selfish when it’s published at the end of this month. It will be so refreshing to hear from other writers on their decision to live childfree lives. I have a feeling I’ll be nodding along in agreement through the entire book! So what’s next on your TBR list? Let’s share our reading suggestions!

Top Ten Books Recommended to Me

Another edition of Top Ten Tuesday, a meme in which I sporadically participate that is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week it’s the books which have been recommended to me the most. This was actually difficult, since it seems people usually ask for my suggestions rather provide their own, but here are a few that stood out, in no particular order:

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

A Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Any novels by Ayn Rand

Some of these books are already on my to-read list, some I couldn’t care less about, and some are wasted recommendations because I’ll never read them. I’ll leave it to you to decipher which are which 🙂 But I’d love to hear your opinions on them!

Which books have been recommended to you the most? Are you simply procrastinating or are they never going to happen? Share the details!