Fangirl: How Fanfiction and Fandom Shapes Us | Book Review

★★★★★/★★★★★ Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

Read this review on Goodreads.

People are constantly comparing this novel to Eleanor and Park, I see why people consider them in the same category, Eleanor and Park is more of a child abuse-body image-bullying book, Fangirl is more focused solely on mental health, as well as more coming of age focused rather than trying to survive.

Fangirl follows Cath, a super fangirl of Simon Snow series aka Harry Potter series, whose life revolves around writing fanfiction about the two main characters, Simon Snow and Baz Pitch aka Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy (I think). But now Cath also has to focus on university, as well as having her twin sister wanting to live away from her, so she has to live with another roommate. But Cath is introverted,  and has low self-esteem, the journey will be arduous.

“Why do we write fiction?“ Professor Piper asked.
Cath looked down at her notebook.
To disappear.”

Characters:

  • Cather “Cath” : She is a talented writer, and focuses most of her energy on fanfiction, which one of her teachers sees as unoriginal, which conflicts with her own views. I found her very realistic, not because I write fanfiction and connect on that level, but her simple answers to not going out, or allowing Levi to just go in. Some people found her lacking because she was “closed to life” or “unable to change,” I am very sure those people are not introverted, or have social anxiety, her character seems to be both. Being that way is not a negative thing, it is just how some people are, they do not like to do certain things, it is not a disease that can be cured with some fresh air and some friends, it is a process of slowly making friends that one will allow through that barrier, it does not happen in a week. Those sort of comments about the character anger me.
  • Levi: A friend and love interest of Cath. He is an adorable farm boy, and Reagan’s best friend. He is an extrovert, contrary to Cath, which actually makes the relationship more believable. “You’ve read the books?” “I’ve seen the movies.” “So you haven’t read the books.” “I’m not really a book person.” “That might be the most idiotic thing you’ve ever said to me.” I liked him, a very polite guy, he has a relapse with that event that we know that happens, but he makes up for it. I adore the fact that he is not a reader, he is more of an auditory learner, and as such needs to hear things instead of seeing or touching them. A character in a book that is not such a huge fan of books in a book about writing about books? I love him, we need more characters like him. How can you not?! “I miss you.“ “That’s stupid,” she said. “I saw you this morning.” “It’s not the time,” Levi said, and she could hear that he was smiling.“ It’s the distance.”
  • Wren: The twin sister. I disliked her character throughout the entirety of the novel. Her only redeeming thing is her boyfriend Jandro. I cannot ell you anything because I will spoil it, but I still hate her, even after the end.
  • Reagan: Cath’s roommate and later friend. A cynical and sarcastic woman who behaves in such a way as a form of caring. This is how she decided to be friends with Cath:  “I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.” “I don’t want to be your friend” “I like that we’re not friends.” “Me, too. I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.” Reagan seems like that one friend we all want to have but at the same time despise. She needs to be experienced throughout the novel on a laugh.

Now one of the main themes brought into the book was fanfiction as literature. Ariel Bissett did a video on Youtube about it, click to watch. So what do you think fanficiton is? Plagiarism? Originality? I don’t know, I wish I knew, but I don’t, it is a thing that must be analyzed case by case. Is Wicked by Gregory Maguire plagiarism, or a canon of a background that did not exist in the original tale? Well, many people consider it an incredible books because it gave a voice to the unspoken characters in the original Oz series. Is Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James plagiarism, or is it an incorrect representation of BDSM? The consensus seems to be yes for both, and I believe the main reason is because the series comes from an original story, the names were changed; the story, originally taken from another tale, was given its own franchise rather than being connected to the Twilight one, while Wickedremained in the same universe, and everyone knew it was obviously coming from that story, while Fifty Shades tried to run away from it. Here is another article that can be read to try and understand, or sort of pick a side, “Fan Fiction: The Next Great Literature?” Keep this discussion going because it is very interesting. 

Something else I adored was how important family relations where. Not like Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, but still a focus on it that was somehow positive, at least on one of the parents. Cath’s father has has bipolar disorder, and he is in a state of depression or mania, but he still loves his family and does what he can to make sure that they know their education is a priority. His daughters do worry about him, and I was glad to see that rather than having the children forsake the dad after they move away, they kept the connection alive (mostly Cath). The sisters’ relationship also plays an important role, it is not a novel of adventure(except for the fanfiction), but more a character study on how some people can change once they believe.

The one other thing I actually appreciated seemed to be some people’s pet peeves, it was the snippets of fanfiction. Most of it made sense and made the love Cath felt for the characters more realistic. I do not think I will read herCarry On, which is all of the fanfiction, but it was very nice to get little bits of it.

I believe Rainbow Rowell will be added to my list of authors whose books I check as soon as they are published. GO forth and venture into her books, they are worth it.

I felt connected to this book with this quote: 

“How do you not like the Internet? That’s like saying, ‘I don’t like things that are convenient. And easy. I don’t like having access to all of mankind’s recorded discoveries at my fingertips. I don’t like light. And knowledge.”

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