Fangirling over Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: A Review

Fangirling over Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: A ReviewFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
on 1st April 2014
Pages: 480
Format: Paperback
BooktopiaBook DepositoryAngus and Robertson
Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life.Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone. Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible . .

Cath has always been a package deal with her identical twin sister Wren. But when the two go off to college, Wren has decided she wants this as a chance to start over. To create a new identity for herself which doesn’t involve Cath. 

Floundering with the forced independence, Cath continues to work on her highly successful fanfiction and rejects the college experience her twin is embracing whole heartedly. Home life interferes with Cath’s plans on how to survive college – as well as a blunt, outspoken yet closetly caring room-mate, Reagan – and Cath finds herself having a real life that starts to overshadow her online presence.

I’m not usually a fan of New Adult novels. They often seem to be an excuse to weave sex into a young adult story. But Fangirl is a book that could change my mind about the genre. This is a book where the characters have to deal with the transition between adolescence and adulthood and it is a story which is delivered beautifully.

This is a book about dealing with family, first love and one’s own identity. Cath grows up in front on our eyes and goes from being the quiet half of Wren&Cath to being a strong person in her own right. The fanfiction portion of the novel is perfectly executed and as someone who was involved quite heavily in a fandom for many years – I feel like Rainbow Rowell captured the spirit completely.

I loved reading about the relationships in this novel. The bond between sisters. Parent/Daughter dynamics with their own issues. Blossoming romance with problems of its own. For me – these were a strength of the book. Every character in this book has their flaws, their problems and they are anything but perfect. But they are real. These could be people I know – could be me – and their imperfections and faults make them so believable. In the end,  despite what they’ve been though, they all emerge the other side a little stronger than before and a little wiser too.

Fangirl is a coming of age story with a difference. Rainbow Rowell has written a story with beautifully awkward characters and angst-ridden romance and also with a lot of heart. I read this book in a single sitting and don’t regret that decision for a moment. I adored getting to follow Cath as she finds the line between fandom and reality, but also as she finds who she is meant to be. I recommend this book for fans of well written contemporary fiction with realistic characters, heart-warming romance and awkward heroines.


Thanks to Pan Macmillan for the review copy of Fangirl


  1. I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t read any of Rainbow’s books yet. And I’m actually surprised to hear that this is NA, I actually just assumed it was YA for some strange reason. But I do love that this is a bit different to usual NA stories, being more than just an aged up YA book. I haven’t been able to decide which of her books to start with so maybe I’ll try this one out! 🙂

  2. I feel the exact same way about New Adult fiction as you and so that was why it was such a surprise that I ended up loving this one quite a bit, as well! I can’t believe you managed to read this one in one sitting, wow! I don’t blame you though – if I could have read it in one sitting, I would have too. I agree with everything here. I became an instant Rainbow fan the moment I read this book and I can’t wait to read her other books (hopefully soon!). So happy you enjoyed this one! Really nicely reviewed.

    • Started just after dinner… and then read though until WAYYY past I should have been sleeping. But I didn’t want to leave the story and forgot about the time.

      I’ve read Eleanor and Park (a YA set in the 80’s) and Attachments (an adult contemporary) and liked them both. I read Attachments as soon as it came out because I adore books written in letters/emails but had some ethical issues… but she has such a great style that’s easy and fun to read but also has her characters deal with some fairly important issues.

      Glad you liked it Aylee!

  3. This is really different from most NA being released at the mo, which is a good thing. I felt completely different to you (I really disliked this book, mostly due to the language and Cath) but I’m glad you loved it! However, I do adore the cover 😉

    • I love the cover too. And the drawings inside the front and back covers! They’re cute… and somehow not at all how I pictured the characters… I wonder how that works since I looked at the drawings before reading the novel. Oh well!

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