It has been forever since I read a young adult novel. I thought I’d outgrown them but when I went back home and sat at that most loved spot by the window, I remembered countless such summer days through my teenage, completely absorbed in ‘Harry Potter’, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ and ‘The Hunger Games’. ‘Fangirl’ was the only young adult novel on my reading list and I decided to give it a try.
TLDR- I wasn’t disappointed.
The book traces Cath’s freshman year in college. Her twin, Wren, decides she wants to interact with more people and hence lives a life of her own, completely alienating Cath. Thus deserted by her ‘built-in best friend’ and with a supremely weird and unapproachable roommate (who comes with a boyfriend who forever hangs out in her room), Cath navigates the intricacies of college life. Cath’s obsession with Simon Snow, a fictional boy-wizard and her success as a fan fiction writer bear no weight in her new universe.
The premise is new. While certain sub-plots ended a bit unresolved for me, the overall experience was quite a refreshing change from the challenging books I had been setting out to read for long. Much attention is paid to character depth and this is one of the high points of the book. Rowell traverses through a range of relationships, the twins’, their relations with their dad and estranged mother, and with the variety of people Cath meets. But none of this is what the book is about.
‘Fangirl’ is a celebration of fandom and nerd power. It is a huge shout out to all the people whose souls belong in an alternate world. In more ways than one, Rowell propagates the idea of fan culture and deems fandom an important, even necessary part of life. With such an unequivocal stand, her love for fan culture permeates through the entire book and leaves you wanting more.
The structure of the book is interesting, with the narrative interspersed with extracts from the Simon Snow series and Cath’s own fan fic writings. Basically two stories for the price of one.
9/10 would recommend. A breezy narrative with no major jolts that takes you through the pain and joys of starting new and growing up.