Off the Shelf: A Heartwarming Look Into the World of Fandom (Book Review)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
A friend of mine, a librarian actually, recently suggested to me the book Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, a novel that has flown under my radar.  I already had Fangirl on my list and was intrigued to discover they are by the same author.  I recently picked up both novels at the library and since Fangirl is a 14 day borrow, I went with that one first.  Two days! Done, in two days.  

Maybe the reason I enjoyed this book so much is because I can relate to the world of fandom.  In fact, while I sit here typing, I'm staring down at my Harry Potter wand pen sitting on my desk.   Yesterday, I nudged my son to do his current event homework on the new 'wizard chambers' at the Georgian House Hotel in London - because how cool is that!! I totally get the online fan clubs, the standing in line to watch the midnight premieres and the comic-con craze (although sadly I've never been to either.) However, what I have been completely oblivious to is the phenomenon of fanfiction. Up until reading this book, I thought all the re-writes my younger son does of Tolkien was just some cute hobby.  Nope - it is a legitimate Internet craze.

Fangirl is about twin sisters, Cath and Wren, who set off for freshmen year of college.  Cath is a successful fanfiction writer of a popular series, (think Harry Potter with a touch of Twilight thrown in) but struggles with her confidence and belief that she can actually write anything original herself. It touches on their estranged relationship with their mother and all the abandonment issues that come along with having an absent parent, while their unstable father tries to hold it all together.

For me the best part of the plot was the young-love story between Cath and...well, don't want to spoil that for you.  But, I will say, this love-interest of hers kind of made me wish I went to school in Nebraska!  Rowell does a wonderful job of writing this amazingly sweet relationship.

There's a lot going on in this story and momentum stays strong throughout.  However, I kept waiting for the big climax to happen.  Well, instead of one defining moment, there are several small a-ha moments throughout the novel which helps move the plot forward and keeps the reader's attention.

Personally, I can't say I'm interested in reading any fanfiction (unless written by my son), despite agreeing that it is an interesting culture in and of itself.  I would just pick it apart and be resentful - guess I'm too loyal to the real authors.

Fangirl is a light, easy read and completely relatable.  Those who "get" the whole world of fandom will appreciate it the most, but, I also think this is a great read for all teens and adults who enjoy YA novels.    

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