Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I’ve seen this book a lot in stores, but it took me awhile to finally commit to purchasing it. Ultimately, it seems like I picked the perfect time since I recently finished my re-reading of my beloved Harry Potter series. I related to this book a lot, especially since my love for Harry Potter was so recently rekindled.
Here is the Amazon review for the novel:
“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? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?”
My rating: 4/5 stars. I enjoyed this book, especially because I felt like I could relate to Cath so well (although I admit—freshman year I had no problem sticking up my large posters on my side of the room… I did live in the honors/nerd dorm, though). I thought Cath was a great character, and while I typically am not too interested in family drama, the relationship and challenges that Cath, her sister, and their father face were interesting and well developed to me. The only reason I didn’t give this book 5/5 stars is because I felt like Simon Snow was too much like Harry Potter. I think it needed to be for people to relate to Cath, but there were too many likenesses for me. However, I did purchase Rowell’s novel Carry On, which is an actual Simon Snow book, so I am interested to see if my perception on this changes as I read it.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
This book was obviously inspired by Fangirl; Simon Snow is the fictional fandom that the protagonist, Cath, is obsessed with. According to the author’s note in the back of Carry On, after writing Fangirl, Rowell felt like she could let go of the characters in Cath’s world, but she was still drawn to those in Simon’s. She wrote Carry On as her own interpretation of Simon’s world, not the fictional author’s or Cath’s.
Here is the Amazon summary:
“Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complee git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here–it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.
Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.”
My rating: 4/5 stars. As I mentioned in my review of Fangirl, there are a lot of similarities between Simon Snow and Harry Potter. In some ways, Simon Snow seemed like it was a fan-fiction of Harry Potter (Simon representing Harry, Baz representing Draco, etc.). Perhaps it is unfair to make associations between the two, but that is how it seemed to me. These associations inside, I enjoyed the novel. I thought the plot was interesting, and I always love a story that handles LGBTQ+ themes well. There were a few times when the plot confused me, but that may also be because I was trying to finish this book quickly so I could have it done by the end of the month. I would recommend this book to fans of Rowell’s writing, as well as fans of young adult fantasy books.