** spoiler alert ** I read Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell years ago and I don’t remember much about it except that I loved it. I went into Fangirl hoping I would get another Eleanor & Park – a story that captivated me and had me up ate at night to finish it.
Sadly, I did not get that. Instead, I got exceptional characters, slow rising action, a mediocre plot and an underwhelming ending. That is how I would sum up Fangirl for me.
Cath is an 18 year old headed off to college for the first time, and she spends the majority of her time writing fan fiction for the Simon Snow novels. Clips of her fanfic writing appear a lot throughout the book, so not only are we wrapped into Cath’s world, we are working with Baz & Simon’s fantasy world as well. Cath comes across as a plain Jane, a nerdy girl with little social experience, and she goes to college and is forced outside of her comfort zone.
We learn about her twin sister, Wren, who is Cath’s complete opposite despite looking identical. She is the wild one that enjoys everything that college kids talk about enjoying – the parties, meeting new people, etc. I liked that Cath and Wren were polar opposites because it gives readers the opportunity to find a little bit of themselves in one of the sisters.
This book has 3-4 other main characters that I won’t get into much, except Levi – the farm boy who takes an interest in Cath and smiles wider than anyone Cath has ever seen. Levi has the classic boy next door vibe and is kind to everyone he meets. While Levi is definitely flawed, he makes for a compelling love interest for Cath. Not too vanilla, but tame enough that she can handle him.
The story of Cath and Levi is sweet, the interactions with Cath and Wren are believable and realistic, and the portrayal of the first semester of college is a little watered down, but still good.
The main reason that this book didn’t receive 5 stars from me doesn’t lie in Cath’s storyline per se, though – it lies in the jumping back and forth between her real life and the world that she created for Simon Snow and Baz. I struggled with understanding how Simon and Baz’s world had anything to do with Cath and Levi. So, one star off for that..
And one star off for the ending – it just…ended. No resolution really, no huge win for Cath. I felt like the climax of the book (Wren getting hospitalized for drinking too much) was underwhelming, too.
Overall, I just felt “bleh” about it. It took me a week to read it which was a lot longer than the average for me. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.