I read Fangirl in two days.
Fangirl is a bit fluffier than Eleanor & Park – which was nice. I was looking for a fluffier book to help me escape a bit from the stresses of school, grad school applications, and child-raising. I was looking for a fluffier book, but still a well-written book. I found what I was looking for in Fangirl.
The protagonist of Fangirl, Cath, might be difficult for a lot of people to relate to. She is shy, inexperienced, and scared to break out of her shell. The shell is protective, and if she stays inside of it, she might not experience very much life, but if she breaks out of it, she might get hurt. This extreme shyness, almost an ability to live, will not make sense to many people. But it does make sense to me. I was also very shy when I was in high school, and when I was in college.
There are two flaws with Fangirl.
- Pacing. The book takes awhile to get started. It’s still enjoyable to read in the beginning, but at the same time, the reader kind of feels like Is this book going anywhere? But don’t worry, because it does. Keep reading.
- Of course, Cath meets people who help her break out of her shell. Yet, at the same time, the reader kind of thinks Yeah, right. Like Cath just happens to meet the people with enough slightly stalkerish persistence to keep trying to become her friend when she keeps pushing them away. And as a formerly extremely shy individual, I can say that yeah, that does seem unlikely. When you’re not open to meeting new people, you tend not to meet new people. At the same time, most novels contain at least one unlikely coincidence, and it wouldn’t be much of a novel without these likable people with stalkerish propensities, so I think we can forgive R squared for this one.
Rowell does a great job with Cath. In the beginning, the reader doesn’t hate Cath, but doesn’t necessarily really like her, either. As this shy, timid character begins to open up to new experiences and friends, the reader grows to like her more and more, just as her acquaintances do as they tend to become friends.
The supporting characters are well done, too. I was particularly a fan of Cath’s roommate, Reagan, whom you don’t see much, but who is a very funny, punk rock kind of gal.
Overall, the novel is well written, can be read quickly, and is full of awkwardness, mistakes, and learning not just to find yourself, but to open yourself up to new experiences. I highly recommend it. On the scale of suckage to awesomeness, this novel warrants five T-rexes and a unicorn.
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