This was our latest book club pick, and I finally downloaded the story and settled in to read at the eleventh hour. I don’t know why I waited so long, because this book was seriously MAGICAL!
First off, the MC, Cath, is my favorite of heroines. Why? She is so REAL! I am sick of these too cool for school, smart ass teenagers who are perfect and awesome. Cath is weird. Seriously. From her social anxiety to her braniac tendencies to her fondness for cardigan sweaters. But that’s why she’s so likeable- she’s just like us, the reader. She’s relatable. Finally, a character who is “real life.”
Honestly, all of the characters were like that. I didn’t feel like this was a stereotypical cast for a YA novel. I enjoyed reading Wren’s struggle with opening up and letting her mother in. Her journey of acting out, being wild, and living the party girl life was exactly how I’d imagined her behaving once she reached college.
Reagan, Cath’s roommate, was the perfect friend. Seriously. I could not have picked a better character to be the one the break down Cath’s walls in the beginning of the school year. Thinking about it, I don’t think any other type of character COULD have impacted Cath at that point. Her snark and sarcasm did more good than fawning or fretting ever would.
Nick was great. I can’t write too much about him without spoilers (and y’all know how I feel about spoilers!), but let me tell you that the way his story intertwines with Cath was so masterful and well done. I loved how he was used as an instrument of Cath’s growth. Gosh. RR is so brilliant.
And Dad! I LOVE Cath and Wren’s dad! This loving, manic father is such a rock for Cath, even though most of the time, SHE is taking care of HIM. His mental health struggles, some of which Cath inherited, were honestly portrayed. I am so glad RR was realistic in how she wrote him, and how he managed his issues.
And then there’s Levi. Which brings me to the second reason why this book was fan-freaking-tastic: the romance. Y’all, the love story parts of this book are masterful. Nothing was cheesey. Nothing was overdone. Again, RR does “real life” well. And the PACING!!! Ohmyword, you guys, the pacing of the various romantic threads of the story was SUPERB! It felt natural and right, given Cath’s anxiety in social situations, let alone boy/girl interactions.
Her first boyfriend was what Wren referred to as an “end table.” There was no emotion involved, and no connection- at least not in a romantic sense. One of my favorite lines was when Cath said, “end tables end.”
Then there’s Nick, her writing partner/crush. Look back in my status history, and you will find multiple quotes about him that literally made me howl with laughter. (Forserious- my coworkers were giving me funny looks.)They exchanged words and flirtatious banter as they wrote together in his notebook in the library stacks where he worked. I won’t discuss their relationship any further (I hate, despise, abominate, and abhor spoilers!), but TRUST ME! He is HUGE in Cath’s personal development, on so many levels. PM or email me if you want to chat more on the subject!
And Levi. Oh, Levi. With the receding hairline and the perpetual smiles and the big ass truck. I love him. He shows up on the scene as Reagan’s boyfriend, and is always in their room studying. He’s one hell of a guy- always outgoing, kind, and helpful. He’s a keeper. Soon enough, Cath will realize that, too.
Finally, there’s the fan fiction. I’ll admit, before reading this book, I’ve only ever HEARD of fan fic, and that in a very vague way. I had never read it before, or given it much thought. Fandoms aren’t something I was overly familiar with. And then BAM! I land right smack in the middle of this giant world I previously didn’t even know existed.
Simon’s story seemed like a cross between Harry Potter and The Mortal Instruments series, so it felt natural to read snippets of the actual story (referred to as “cannon”), and then the fan fic pieces that Cath creates. I found myself caring about these characters, who are not only fictional, but super fictional! They are characters in a story within a story! How absurd is that?! But I couldn’t help it! And Cath, the character, truly is an intelligent, creative, evocative writer.
From someone who primarily reads Fantasy (about 70%), historical fiction (20%), and the occasional trashy romance novel (not even 10%), this contemporary YA novel was a surprising hit! I can’t gush enough about this book, it was that good! For those of you who are on the fence about reading FANGIRL, allow me to rudely push you off of it and into the pages of this witty, hilarious, and insightful contemporary story.