Emily May's Reviews > Fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
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bookshelves: contemporary, new-adult, 2015

“Real life was something happening in her peripheral vision.”

I enjoyed Fangirl. Though the way I feel about it is almost exactly how I feel about Eleanor & Park. They are both cute books with complex, well-developed characters, and yet I feel like something is missing that just holds both books back from being truly memorable.

Rowell writes quirky, detailed characters that are different and honest. I liked the antisocial, awkward and weird Cath. I thought her story - both as a popular fanfic writer and as a new college student - seemed very unique and it was, for the most part, enjoyable, funny and occasionally moving. I have my own history of social awkwardness so I related to a lot of the strange and hilarious things she did.

Some readers didn't like Cath's desire to hole up in her room and eat protein bars because she wanted to avoid the awkwardness of the cafeteria, but this wasn't an issue for me. Unfortunately, I get these little things that plague us socially awkward people. I actually found it quite endearing.

And, unlike some other readers, I enjoyed the fanfiction aspect. I've never been much of a fanfic reader/writer myself, but I have been the kind of person who has been completely obsessed with a fandom, and I have never read a book that has done anything quite like this one. Props for creativity.

So... yes, I like the characters, and yes, I like the dialogue, but I feel there is something lacking in the plot/story arc of the two Rowell books I've read. I guess they are introspective "coming-of-age" books that don't really have much of a story, and I tend to feel like not much has happened or been achieved by the novel's close.

It's odd, though, because I often enjoy character-driven stories. For some reason, with Rowell, it never seems to be enough. I quite like her books while I'm reading them, but I get the impression that in a month's time, I won't be able to name a single character from this book.

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Reading Progress

September 16, 2013 – Shelved
October 2, 2015 – Started Reading
October 3, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 58 (58 new)


Kathylill looking forward to your review ... I can't decide if I liked it or not. There was something about the whole fanfic thing that was kind of funny but also kind of disturbing (I mean this girl really creeped me out a little bit)


Emily May Lol, I've heard a lot of different things about this one! Hope I like it :)


Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin I'm going to have to give it a try. Great review!


Simon  Says actually alot of people feel rainbow rowell's bools are simple and great but not satisfying, I thought eleanor and park was cute but that alot of the events were mundane and didnt have any impact, with fangirl, i dont know why but it had more of a great feel to me but i just thought it couldve pushed things a little more, i still loved it, a great comfort read


message 5: by Kels (new) - added it

Kels Lovely review, Emily! I agree about the overall plot lacking with some of Rainbow Rowell's books too. I love her writing, and I think I will continue to read her books, but they just lack that extra something that makes a novel memorable.


Kayla I found this book frustrating to read. I related to Cath in that I had a really hard time connecting with anyone when I went to university. I'm an introvert, but Cath really rubbed me the wrong way. I tried really hard to go out of my comfort zone and try to make friends. I went to functions by myself and talked to people even though it was terrifying. I found Cath exhausting to read about because the way I remember it is she felt sorry for herself for not having friends, made zero effort and actually tried pushing people away when they tried to be her friend. I couldn't sympathize with her at all. That being said, I loved the storyline about her dad. That's the only part that made the book memorable for me.


message 7: by Shannon (new) - added it

Shannon I'm curious what you'd think of Attachments and Landline, both by Rowell. I haven't read Fangirl, but I thought they were both stronger than Eleanor and Park.


Turkan Taskin I found this one so boring :(


Ashley (JaffaCaffa) You sum up the feelings I had with this book quite perfectly. I could relate to Cath very well and love character-driven stories, yet I was so disappointed with this. The premise sounded like the perfect book to me, but it felt like I was the one who missed something, since I hadn't heard of any reviews less than 4 stars.


message 10: by Tatiana (new) - added it

Tatiana I haven't read Fangirl yet, but I did read Eleanor & Park and I agree that something is missing in the story. I think it's like the plot just wanders about, like it dissipates in water, it didn't felt like there was a strong conclusion.


TheWellReadLady This was my first Rainbow Rowell novel, and whilst I adored Cath and related to her, I thought it just a cute, straight-forward read. Not sure if I should read more of her books? - maybe Eleanor & Park or Landline??? Any suggestions,anyone?


daydreamer I agreeeeeee with you, both about Fangirl and Eleanor and Park. There's something missing which frustrates me!!! :D


daydreamer TheWellReadLady wrote: "This was my first Rainbow Rowell novel, and whilst I adored Cath and related to her, I thought it just a cute, straight-forward read. Not sure if I should read more of her books? - maybe Eleanor & ..."

The one I found most enjoyable was Attachments! You should read it :D Its a cuteness overload


message 14: by Laura (new) - added it

Laura I like what you are saying here, that the story is good, but lacking somehow. I have been on the fence about reading this, because as a fangirl, do I really want to read about one? And, if as you say, it is lacking, heck, I could read my own stories of this awkward time, which for me, was high school.


message 15: by Yon Nyan (new)

Yon Nyan (BiblioNyan) I saw this at the bookstore the other day and wasn't sure if I wanted to give it a try. After you review, I think it may be worth the shot. :) Great job, as always.


message 16: by Milica (new)

Milica Great review, Emily. :) This is how I feel about Sarah Dessen books.


message 17: by Malia (new) - added it

Malia Somehow I can't really get on the raving Rainbow Rowell bandwagon either. Her writing is cute and the stories interesting, but they don't linger and I don't know why, which makes them kind of frustrating! Have you read Attachments? I actually liked that one best.


Chantal I agree. I gave this book a 4 star rating. It deserved a two star!


message 19: by Reem (new) - rated it 3 stars

Reem finally you post a review. and i couldn't agree more.


Jessica I agree with Malia, when I think back on her books Attachments was one of the best, then probably Fangirl, then Eleanor & Park, and Landline was just absolutely the worst.


Emily May Milica wrote: "Great review, Emily. :) This is how I feel about Sarah Dessen books."

Thank you. It's weird you should say that because I've never read a Sarah Dessen book, but I feel like I get that impression from them anyway. Like, I expect the characters and writing to be good, but I just don't see how the story is that interesting.


message 22: by Dana (new) - added it

Dana Fontaine I agree. Even though Rainbow Rowell lives in the town I currently live in, and is promoted to the moon and back, and everybody supposedly loves her books, I agree. Her books are just OK. Nothing amazing or life changing.


message 23: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen I actually have to say I agree almost completely. Fangirl, the only Rowell book I've read, was so charming and quirky and lovely. Butttt not a whole lot happens at all and I needed more for this book to be truly memorable.
I do disagree with your review on one aspect. I very much disliked the fanfiction excerpts. Loved the role fanfiction plays in this story, but not the story itself. I skimmed all the excerpts.


Emily May Jen wrote: "I actually have to say I agree almost completely. Fangirl, the only Rowell book I've read, was so charming and quirky and lovely. Butttt not a whole lot happens at all and I needed more for this bo..."

Oh, I actually agree with you. I meant I liked the decision to have a character who writes fanfic. I also skimmed the excerpts.


Vienna YAY I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE! I have the same rating about Fangirl (only I didn't care for the Fanfic and I couldn't stand Cath for most of the time lol)! The only other book I've read (and was interested in) is Attachments and I LOVED that book! It was so much better than Fangirl!


Rebecca Hubbell Her books always fall short with me. They're enjoyable reads but they seem incomplete. Attachments has been my favorite because it actually felt like it had an ending. I haven't gotten to Landline yet, but I've heard it's different than her others.


Andrina Murray I'm glad you enjoyed it! I have to say fangirl is my favorite out of all her books because it's the only one I felt like I wasn't waiting for something (but not really sure what I was waiting for) to happen. I actually didn't want it to end, and I'm a little mad at myself for not reading it sooner lol


message 28: by Jen (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jen Emily May wrote: "Jen wrote: "I actually have to say I agree almost completely. Fangirl, the only Rowell book I've read, was so charming and quirky and lovely. Butttt not a whole lot happens at all and I needed more..."

Ah, I see. Yes, we're on the same page then! The fanfiction excerpts actually really annoyed me, and I have no interest in reading Carry On, Simon.


TheWellReadLady daydreamer wrote: "TheWellReadLady wrote: "This was my first Rainbow Rowell novel, and whilst I adored Cath and related to her, I thought it just a cute, straight-forward read. Not sure if I should read more of her b..."

Thanks Daydreamer :) maybe I'll try Attachments, then. I enjoyed the idea of the Fanfiction that Cath was writing, but funnily have no interest in the fanfiction itself....or reading the new Carry On book.


message 30: by Milica (new)

Milica Emily May wrote: Thank you. It's weird you should say that because I've never read a Sarah Dessen book, but I feel like I get that impression from them anyway. Like, I expect the characters and writing to be good, but I just don't see how the story is that interesting.

Yes, it's just like you said, there is something lacking in the plot/story arc, and for every book I've read from her, I could find another one with similar plot that made bigger impact on me.


Steph Sinclair Agreed. This is why I don't generally like her books. Rowell writes characters and not plots. There isn't really a climax of conclusion for most of them. At least one that is actually distinguishable from the rest of the book. Therefore, more boring stories.


message 32: by Cristina (last edited Oct 05, 2015 06:31AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cristina Guarino Ah, I love this book! I was a fanfiction writer AND socially awkward (was? HA) so I connected to it so much. However, you're right--I was at a BookCon signing party for Fangirl to celebrate Rainbow's next work, Carry On, which is the Simon Snow story from this novel... and even though I adored the characters, I blanked so hard on a ton of the trivia. I couldn't believe how little of it I remembered.

That being said, I think people who find Cath's behavior "weird" or "annoying" are missing a major aspect that I don't believe you've mentioned here, and that I believe is only hinted at in the story rather than explicitly said--Cath has an anxiety disorder. At least, as someone who suffers from anxiety and has learned a lot about it through therapy, that's what I gathered (view spoiler). I think it goes a little bit beyond social awkwardness.


Emily May Cristina wrote: "Ah, I love this book! I was a fanfiction writer AND socially awkward (was? HA) so I connected to it so much. However, you're right--I was at a BookCon signing party for Fangirl to celebrate Rainbow..."

That's an interesting point, but I do hesitate to say Cath has an anxiety disorder. There's such a fine, controversial line between eccentricity (being extremely shy, socially awkward, etc.) and having a mental disorder. Quite like the fine line between eccentricity and autism. When do quirks and personality become something we can medically define as a disorder? It's not easy to say.


message 34: by Lace (new) - added it

Lace I definitely do not think Cath as an anxiety disorder. TBH, this is the only Rowell book I can stand. Eleanor and Park had WAY too much Korean fetishism, but Fangirl was all right. But no. Definitely not a disorder. She's awkward. She's annoying. Some people are.


Katie I feel as if I'm the only person that feels very offended over Rowell's slander regarding the victims of rape at the beginning of the book...


Emily May Katie wrote: "I feel as if I'm the only person that feels very offended over Rowell's slander regarding the victims of rape at the beginning of the book..."

What was it?! I have a feeling everyone else must have missed it because I obviously missed it too and I'm the kind of person who would generally notice something like that and be appalled.


Chantal Emily May wrote: "Katie wrote: "I feel as if I'm the only person that feels very offended over Rowell's slander regarding the victims of rape at the beginning of the book..."



What was it?! I have a feeling everyone..."





I must have too! Had I known I would've given it a lesser rating!


TheWellReadLady Emily May wrote: "Katie wrote: "I feel as if I'm the only person that feels very offended over Rowell's slander regarding the victims of rape at the beginning of the book..."

What was it?! I have a feeling everyone..."


Katie's right...I can't remember the exact words/sentence, but I do remember thinking "shit, that's not a good thing to write" when reading it, and it was an offensive thing to say and I was quite surprised Rowell would write something like that (mind, this is my first - and probably my last - book of hers, so what do I know of her writing style!!?


Emily May I found this:

"Look..." Cath said. "I can't just let strange guys into my room. I don't even know your name. This whole situation is too rapey."

Is that what you meant?

I'm not personally offended by it, but I do think it was a poor choice to use the word "rapey", as I'm sure some people will see it as making light of rape.


TheWellReadLady Emily May wrote: "I found this:

"Look..." Cath said. "I can't just let strange guys into my room. I don't even know your name. This whole situation is too rapey."

Is that what you meant?

I'm not personally offen..."


Not sure if this is what Katie meant, but yeah, that may be it. I found it a tacky comment to write, especially for a popular YA author, and in a jokey manner.


Adulee I agree with you completely!!! :)


Madison_reads 100% agree with you on this review, good book, keeps the pages turning but by the end of it im wondering what has been achieved in the whole book, the plot is lacking something and too many loose ends not tied up for me


Madison_reads 100% agree with you on this review, good book, keeps the pages turning but by the end of it im wondering what has been achieved in the whole book, the plot is lacking something and too many loose ends not tied up for me


Jillian I totally agree with you!


message 45: by Lisa (new) - rated it 1 star

Lisa Feel the same way!


message 46: by Daisy (new) - added it

Daisy Paquet I'd like to read this as I am a crazy fangirl.


Lindsey I feel the same way about her "strange habits." I have done things like that in the past so I felt myself relating to Cath. It could have been me as a freshman living in the dorms.


Kazaneth Especially when cath read levi abt "carry on" and it takes sometimes 3 to4 pages of the own story itself. I mean it seems like promoting for her another book but actually i often skip the part she read cus i know even though I skip it i still can understand the continue chapters. And I really do. I can admit that "fangirl" made me sick of carry on like i got annoyed by it so bad.


Heloisa Angeli I feel pretty much the same! There is something missing! The end just... it seems to me like the story fades away with no closure.


message 50: by Olga (new) - rated it 2 stars

Olga I feel the same way. The character was enjoyable, a lot of things she felt I could relate to, however it felt...incomplete somehow. I felt it was missing something and that feeling pulled me out of the story several times.


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