BY RAINBOW ROWELL
SUMMARY: In Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate 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.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Writing fan fiction is an act of love. Love for your readers, love for the reviews and the number of ‘hits’ your story gets, love—and obsession—for the characters you write. Writing (and to a certain degree, reading) fan fiction allows you to submerge yourself into the place you love the most. For some, it’s that one character you can’t live without; for others, it’s the entire cast of characters that feel like a family. Possibly it’s the power and control you gain by becoming part of this make-believe world you love, moving the characters like chess pieces, making them do what you want, which is sometimes the opposite of what the author or screenwriters intended. Most importantly, fan fiction is a real place for the author and reader, it’s a genre growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s a platform for talented and intuitive writers to showcase their skill.
Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell, captures this perfectly in the story of Cather, a talented writer who suffers (and eventually gains) from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. At 18, Cather, or Cath as she’s known to friends and family, is a highly successful author of Simon Snow fan fiction. After eight plus years of living mostly inside her head rather than the real world, Cath faces the challenge of going to college where she has no choice but to learn how to exist in a realm that doesn’t include Simon Snow but instead roommates, classmates, and possibly love. Adding insult to injury her twin sister, Wren, chooses to room with a stranger rather than live with Cath, insisting that she needs to experience something new. This unexpected move by her sister reawaken feelings of abandonment in Cath whose mother left their family when the girls were just eight-years old.
At the heart of this timeless, Young Adult novel, is the Harry Potter-like character of Simon Snow, the mage that Cather has invested her life in. Talented and popular in the fandom, Cath is as popular as the Snow series creator, Gemma T. Leslie. She sets a deadline: finish her prolific story, Carry On, before Gemma publishes the final Snow novel, pressure that leaves Cath incapable of writing her own story, both figuratively and literally.
Rowell uses the world of fan fiction as a backdrop for Cath’s life and inability to take the chances necessary to live her own life to the fullest. It’s not until she recognizes all she could lose that Cath opens herself up, first to compromise, and then to going ‘all in’ as she takes that last step from one world into the other, just as the fictional Simon Snow is fulfilling his destiny.
Fangirl is a story for anyone who has ever been afraid to take chances, to step outside ‘the box’ and reach deep inside themselves to find what was there all along: the ability to conquer doubts and move forward. Along the way you’ll be treated to an inside look into the world of fan fiction, which is moving quickly towards becoming a legitimate genre in the world of fiction and publishing, whether you write it or read it.
You can buy it here at Barnes & Noble.