When I was in college, I went through a major reading slump. With all of the studying and textbook reading I had to do, the last thing I wanted to do was read for fun. I pulled myself out of my reading slump thanks to friends and rediscovering what I liked to read. One of the books I credit for pulling me out of this was Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Fangirl had been on my list to re-read for a while and it seemed like every time I wanted to start the book, something would get in my way. Since this is a re-read post, I won’t be covering the plot of Fangirl, however, you can read my original review here: https://bizarrebrunette.com/2015/04/03/fangirl-review/
Fangirl will always be a five-star book for me however, I had a couple of critiques I had this time around with this book. I do think Fangirl is a bit too long. The first half of the book tells the reader about Cath’s routine at college. She’s locating where her classes are, she’s writing a fiction story in the library and she’s too afraid to go to the dining hall. I found this part of the book to be boring to read. There easily could have been sections taken out without the book’s plot suffering. Fangirl is 433 pages and it felt long to read. The second half of Fangirl does pick up, but the first half took me a long time to finish.
Originally when I read Fangirl, I loved Cath as a character. I felt like I identified with her being introverted and her love of fandom. This time, I started to notice how judgemental Cath is. She makes negative comments on how much Wren likes to party. Now, Wren was a bit out of control in some ways, but it felt like to Cath that if Wren was living her life differently than her, it’s wrong. Additionally, Cath seems to have this pretentious attitude because of her scholarship and intelligence. This can be seen in her relationship with Levi who struggles academically and finds it challenging to read a physical book. I do think Cath grows up a bit towards the end of the book, but I was surprised at how some of her statements made me resent her a little bit.
Finally, I noticed Rainbow Rowell makes some weird comments about race in her books. There are examples from both Cath and Wren regarding how they comment on race. Wren comments later in the book how she doesn’t realize a certain race lived on one part of campus. I’m not sure if Rowell wants to hammer into readers how Cath and Wren growing up in Omaha have interacted with people from different races, but the statements come off more cringey than anything else. There has been some controversy surrounding Rainbow Rowell and how she writes characters from a different race specifically in her book Eleanor and Park. It’s interesting reading Fangirl and noticing some of these comments even though this controversy is with a different book that she wrote.
Fangirl will always have a special place in my heart. I read this book while I was going through a identity/insecurity crisis and reading about Cath helped me accept myself for who I am. I can understand why other readers would rate this lower than I did because of some of the points I made above. I’d love to hear any additional thoughts regarding Fangirl, let me know in the comments section below.