“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.’”
Cath is perfectly comfortable in her geeky little bubble, writing Simon Snow fanfiction and keeping as much of her personal life as possible limited to her twin sister, their father, and her endless adoring fans. When you have anxiety shadowing your every move, things are just so much easier behind the internet’s mask of anonymity. College is going to throw a wrench in that, though… especially when Wren insists on not being roommates.
Now, Cath has to find a way to hide in the background of her new college life, despite the wild new roommate – and that roommate’s mildly overbearing best friend/boyfriend/whatever Levi is – and intimidating classmates who are determined to pull Cath out of her online shell, for better or for worse.
So, let me start off by saying I almost DNF’d this one. I never DNF books, but the first chunk of it was just incredibly boring for me; I don’t know if it was the mood I was in (as this had been my first “fluffy contemporary” in a few months, maybe longer), or if it was the book, but it wasn’t holding my interest at all. If you look at the reading dates, you’ll see I read this between March 18 and March 24: for the record, I read probably 70% or more of this on the evening of March 23/morning of March 24. Once I got into the meat of the book, it dragged me in so fast that I literally stayed up until 4AM to finish it, despite knowing my kiddo was gonna wake me up by 9. #noregrets
Okay, I digress. This book is ADORABLE. Cath is adorable. Levi is adorable. Reagan is hilarious. Wren is an ass, until she’s not, so that’s fine. Cath and Wren’s dad is totally one of the best fictional dad characters I’ve ever read; he’s an actual, complex, multi-dimensional character with likes and dislikes, flaws and qualities, and even a mental health problem of his own that we get to explore a bit throughout the unfolding events. I find that most YA contemporary authors write parents in one of two ways: an obstacle, or a prop. Rainbow Rowell steered clear of those tropes entirely by making Cath’s dad literally my favorite character in the book.
Something that really endeared Rainbow’s writing style to me, with this being my first time reading any of her work, was how unexpected the progression of the romance was. Early in the book, it almost feels like we’re being led in one of two directions, and while you get a good hunch of which path we’ll be taken on, it’s not spelled out – or it wasn’t in my opinion, at least. There wasn’t a trace of insta-love in this book, which almost seems to overwhelm the YA contemporary genre these days, so it was incredibly refreshing to watch Cath gradually befriend, and eventually fall in love with, her love interest. (I literally won’t even name who it is here, because I’ve spoken to people who admitted, while reading the book, they genuinely believed it would go in the opposite direction of the actual outcome.)
I also have to give Rainbow props for writing a genuinely believable character with an anxiety disorder. As someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder myself, I related so hard to so much of the mess that was going on in Cath’s brain at any given time. One of my favorite quotes, in fact, made me laugh and sigh simultaneously because I thought of how many times I’ve said something similar to myself, in my own life:
“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)”
Too true, Cath. Too true.
Anyways, I’m sorry that this review is a little scattered, but if I get any one point across to you, let it be this: if you enjoy fluffy contemporaries and are looking for an adorable, fun, geeky book to lose yourself in, let it be Fangirl.