Two sisters' reviews of Young Adult and Middle Grade books, inspired by their lovely library.
Okay, I admit it: I only read this book because I was still (and always will be) in love with Simon Snow from Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On. I didn’t count on a growing connection with main character Cather and her story as well, but once I began listening to the audiobook, it was impossible to avoid.
Series: None (Companion Novel: Carry On)
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Format: Audiobook, narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Maxwell Caulfield
Rating: 5 stars!
From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park. 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?
Okay, I admit it: I only read this book because I was still (and always will be) in love with Simon Snow from Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On. I didn’t count on a growing connection with main character Cather and her story as well, but once I began listening to the audiobook, it was impossible to avoid. Rainbow Rowell’s characters are so alive, they seem to leap off the page and greet you. As I listened, I heard Cather typing at her computer and felt Levi’s slouchy presence on the bed next to me.
As frequent readers of my blog know quite well by now, contemporary fiction is not my favorite genre. Occasionally I’ll leave the fantasy behind for a popular young adult novel such as Thirteen Reasons Why, The Fault in Our Stars, or Beauty Queens, just to understand the hype (and yes, I’ve loved all three of those). I’m glad to say although Eleanor and Park did not make the list, Fangirl certainly does! It may be the point of my life I’m in right now (between high school and college), but I just felt as if I got more out of Fangirl. Although personally I have very little in common with Cath (except for a mutual love of books), a lot of my own hidden worries about college were addressed and resolved.
Although Fangirl was published first (in 2013), I decided to read Carry On first because I simply couldn’t wait to leap into a world of gay wizards, and I’m very glad I did. Thus, I ended up reading Fangirl as a companion to Carry On rather than the other way around, and enjoyed it even more that way. It felt like I was reading fan fiction written by the author herself! I also understood Cath’s love for Simon Snow, and enjoyed the stories about Snow and Baz, which otherwise would have felt random and unrelated.
One thing I’m still not entirely satisfied with is the ending (minor spoilers ahead!). The plot just stops. The semester ends, and just like that so does Cath’s story. I even checked my phone to make sure I wasn’t missing an audio file when I saw I only had 10 minutes left. It felt like so much was unresolved. Luckily, most plot points were wrapped up in those final minutes, but only barely. A happy future is subtly hinted at, and the rest is simply left to the reader to decide.
Overall, I had an extremely pleasant experience listening to Fangirl, and I am now inspired to look up more of Rainbow Rowell’s books and other similar titles to enjoy!
Have you read either Fangirl or Carry On? Which would you recommend reading first? Do you have a preference?