"'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.''"
I finished Fangirl two days after I bought it on my Kindle, and that was only because I didn't have much time to read on one of those days because, social life. That was a week ago, and I still don't know how to talk about it without squealing about how much I loved it because my GOD I really did and also have I mentioned lately that Rainbow Rowell is the actual best and I love her? Because that's about as useful as I'm going to be in this review, to be honest.
Ok, no. Actual words. So Fangirl is excellent, and it's excellent in ways that I didn't even expect it to be. If I'm honest, I expected to love it in the general way that I'm always going to love a Rainbow Rowell book (I assume!) but maybe to feel less connected to it in the way I did to, say, Attachments, or to Eleanor in Eleanor and Park because I don't really know anything about being a fangirl. Or, at least, I don't know anything about being a fangirl where I share all those thoughts with everyone on the internet- I've been pretty good at being a Les Miserables fangirl this year, for example, but that was mostly in my own brain.
Does being obsessed with one dude also count as being a fangirl? Cause if so, I get it!
BUT. Whilst I might have been expecting to be less into this book than her others, I was so completely wrong about that, and that's really all down to Rowell. Here's the deal with Fangirl- it IS about a total Fangirl (Cath- she's really really into these 'Simon Snow' books and writes fan fiction where the hero is in love with his mortal enemy- the Simon Snow books bear a striking resemblance [kind of] to the Harry Potter books, and Rowell is a fan of Harry/Draco...) but it goes so far beyond her life as a fangirl that it stays readable for, I think, even people who don't use the internet that much,* and definitely for people who wouldn't really consider themselves fangirls.
Midway update: We've established there's more to this book than the title.
I'll say some more things about it, shall I? Just as a personal thing, Fangirl really hits some of my soft spots- a 'going away to college' (or just any new situation) narrative, Cath is a TWIN and twins have kind of been my favourite since that time I read Sweet Valley High all the time**, and there's an adorable boy character. I can't be too clear on this point- Levi is FANTASTIC and I love him and I want to go live on a ranch with him and raise cattle and babies and I DON'T EVEN EAT MEAT (or babies. But that's beside the point.) Really the only disappointment I have about Fangirl is that Levi doesn't exist so I can't make him mine. Hmph.
And then, there's Cath. I love Cath. You kiiind of have to love Cath if you're going to read Fangirl, because it's all from her point of view, but I really really love her. The thing I love most about her is that, even though certain things are expected of her as a freshman in college (i.e. she's supposed to be a wild partier) she has literally no interest in bowing to the things she's 'supposed' to do, and pretty much does what she wants. And yeah, some of this comes from the anxiety disorder she's dealing with (trying to deal with) but even without that- she doesn't want to go to parties. She's not very concerned about making friends. And that's a perfectly valid choice for her to make and everyone doesn't have to be all social all the time, ok?!
And this being a Rainbow Rowell book, Cath is dealing with things apart from her anxiety that I won't tell you about because spoilers, but they bring juuust enough sadness to counteract Levi's cuteness, but not so much that I wanted to die, and THAT is the perfect amount. Also being a Rainbow Rowell book, some of the sentences were so awesome I could have cried. Seriously, here are a few:
"'The Triangle House!' Courtney said. She said it the same way you'd say 'the Playboy Mansion!' if you were a total D-bag."
"The squirrels on campus were beyond domestic; they were practically domestically abusive."
"Levi's eyebrows were pornographic."And just, kind of, all the rest of the words? Yes, those.
And then there are the fangirl bits, and, rather than excluding those who don't really know what fangirling is all about, they seem deliberately inclusive- since they're centred around a fictional series (that, actually, I would definitely read) it's not like a massive amount of prior knowledge is expected, AND they fit in with the plot in interesting and unexpected ways- Cath, for example, has written about love so much in her fanfiction, but is woefully unprepared when it happens to her, but it's all ok. It's about the limits of existing in a mainly fictional universe, but is always respectful of the incredible amount of work that (sometimes) goes into writing fanfiction.
It's also about a lot of other things- feeling like a fish out of water, feelings of abandonment, growing apart from a sibling, finding friendship and love in unexpected places, finding yourself and so so so many other things- and each of these things is handled so well, and with real thought and in an awesome writing style. Do I have to say it again? I LOVED this book, I would kind of have babies with it, and if you're holding off reading this because you're scared you might not like it as much as Attachments or Eleanor and Park, then DON'T BE because it's awesome. I promise you. Now go and read it. Now.
*Do these people exist? And WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM?!