[Book Opinion] [English] Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

March Reading Challenge : A book with female author.

ISBN : 9786027150508
Publisher : Penerbit Spring
Translator : Wisnu Wardhana
Number of pages : 456 pages

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

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?

This is the first Rainbow Rowell’s books I’ve ever read.
At first, I had a big expectation on this book, since the excerpt was promising. I mean, it wasn’t that common and I myself is a fangirl of a certain group so- yup, I was wondering on how it would be executed. However, I’m someone who’d like to see the reviews before decided to buy the book and thus, I was slightly disappointed as I saw how bad the reviews are. It was said that Fangirl didn’t represent fangirl’s life at all. And… well, I had to lower my expectation due to that.

Thankfully, I’ve done that. Because after I’ve read this book, I don’t know how I should rate this book. I just- well, I don’t know whether I should like it or dislike it.

At one side, I have to admit that I enjoyed reading this.
I really enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s writing style, on the top of everything. Everything just went right on the right place. How the new characters appeared, how the characteristics were different one with another, how each characters had their own conflictions and everthing, how the problems arose and how it finally ended. It was nice, though there were still things left unsolved to the end; like Cath’s problem with her mother, or Wren who didn’t seem to really feel sorry over everything she has done towards her dad. But in short, I didn’t want to put the book down and do something else. I just wanted to read read read and read and finished the book all at once. I wanted to know what’s going on at the next pages, and that’s a good sign for me (well of course!).

But at the other side, I also have to admit that I was disappointed. It was a good thing I had no high expectation, but… I really agreed that Rowell needs to explore and learn better about how everything works in a “FANDOM”. How a “FANGIRL” would do, how a “FANGIRL” would react, and everything. Sorry to say, but I really thought this sounded like “mocking” a “FANGIRL” in many ways. Am I overreacted? Well- first of all, that’s because 1) I AM a fangirl and I DO know how fanfiction works as well; I wrote and read some of those, okay? And it’s not that recent. I’ve been around like, four years. 2) I HATE Cath’s characters here. She’s stupid, egoist, idiot, and blah-blah-blah (If you think that she’s not… save it first. The characteristics will be explained later). So in conclusion, I refuse to accept that there’s a probability someone who doesn’t know about “FANDOM” and “FANGIRL” will think that Cath is an example of “normal” fangirl. I don’t want to. Because, as I’ve said, I AM a fangirl.

A fangirl’s life doesn’t just rotate around a fanfiction. I’m not saying it doesn’t related. Fanfiction is one of the way to fangirl over things you love, but not completely. Fanfiction is just a very small part of everything in a fandom. The big part of a fandom is “COMMUNITY”. By joining a “FANDOM”, you basically join a community in which there were people with the same interest as you are. I see that Rowell has mentioned like, once or twice; that Cath had online friends which are good since she can comfortably talk with them without looking at their eyes. I agreed on that part, but sadly it wasn’t shown on how it really worked on the story. I mean- if Cath felt that she had no one (when Wren ignored her), she could come online and talk with anybody there; that’s more reasonable. After all, she called them “friends” and she said it’s comfortable to talk with them. Besides, most of the fangirls spend their time with the community more as well. They talk about their favorite characters; favorite scenes, maybe; and such other things. They squeal together over something. They edit the pictures and share it with the others, and probably also put a quote. They probably create an event- a gathering or something. They probably create a giveaway, create a fanmade merchandise or something. Thus, it will be nice to see the interaction between Cath and her online friends since it could be fun and interesting- and let people know for real how a fangirl’s life is.
Then, that’s not how a fanfiction works. As in, you don’t just write without reading the other’s works. The first reason people go for a fanfiction is because they want to read; to find more of the pairings (if it’s about pairing- it’s not even all about pairings; it can be anything) which they love. In this case, Simon and Baz. Thus, it was kind of impossible for Cath to not read them; in my opinion. Even IF- even IF she didn’t want to unconsciously following the other’s works, for a “popular author” of fanfiction, she should be familiar with “alternate universe” (where the world is different with the original story), isn’t she? Why don’t she read those instead? And, you just don’t- OH. I can’t even imagine it. It’s so freaking weird to read that there’re people who thought Cath was THAT GOOD; as in, exceeded the original writer’s talent and capability. That’s just like… what? Stupid, maybe? And worse, that Cath even AGREE on that! OH.MY.GOD. I can’t! No matter how great a fanfiction is, it’s “JUST” a fanfiction- which means, it would NOT surpass the original one. And even if you like someone’s plot better (due to biased thought like, because you’re in love with the characters or relationships which is different with the original), it’s like a… “taboo” word? Because without the original, the fanfiction wouldn’t be there.

Another thing that I don’t really like is the fanfiction excerpt there. It’s not that I think the story was bad or something. However, I really can’t find what’s the use of it until the end of story. Why can’t Rowell just said that Cath read the excerpt for Levi and- end of story. No need to read it pages to pages. It’s just not related in any way.

Then, let’s go to the characteristics.
Cath, as I’ve said, stupid. and egoist. and quite arrogant too in fact. I hate her character here. For real. First, she was stupid enough by closing herself that far from the reality. I understand that she wasn’t comfortable with other people, but there’s no need to be that far; to be an idiot who’s afraid asking where she can eat, to be a rude one who’s refused other people’s offers HARSHLY. Oh come on, there’s a difference between “social awkward who doesn’t really enjoy herself around the others” and “an arrogant who thinks she doesn’t need the others and will, without a heart, says aloud that she doesn’t need the others”. Even if you’re a “social awkward” or something, of course you can still have a politeness towards the others. There’s no need for you to push the other away as harsh. And then, it’s kind of… stupid too to submit your fanfiction as an assignment. I understand that she could only write something related to Simon Snow, but that doesn’t mean it is acceptable to submit it to the professor. Just- well, use your mind a little bit more? Like, how about change the character’s name and the universe a little bit? She can even change Simon to a girl if she wanted to. Make her writing became not that obvious on what it was about. It isn’t that hard, really. It also makes her seemed to be even stupider since she didn’t even accept what her proffessor has said. “IT ISN’T PLAGIARISM”. Oh believe me, it isn’t. But you’ve definitely violated the copyright. And you’re proud of it? When I said it’s violated, it’s because the fanfiction wasn’t used “just for fun” there. It was used completely for Cath’s own sake; to get a MARK- to get a PAYMENT (the “mark”). And then she said that she sometimes thought her writing is better than the original one- “maybe I sounded crazy”. Oh girl, don’t worry. You’re just too arrogant to compare yourself with a PROFFESIONAL WRITER. In this, I seriously think that Cath was, more or less, like E.L. James (no offense, I just remembered something about her that my friend said). Well, not that she didn’t have a good side so- to make it fair, I should mention her good side right? Like… she cared a lot of her family. And… apparently, she has a great writing skill. And… she wants to make the kiss and sex not “JUST” kiss and sex? And… I don’t know anymore.

I’ll say about the other main characters in short, since I’ve been writing quite long.
Wren, she’s as annoying as her twin. In a different way. If Cath was trying too hard to be a “social awkward”, Wren was trying too hard to be the social one. In most of times, I see that she seemed to force herself to forget everything about Cath and Simon Snow; when in fact, she still read Cath’s fanfiction. She’s trying too hard to not care about her surroundings and that’s annoying- since she’s stupid to think that way. Since her family should be her everything, to be honest.
Levi, is one of my favorite here. In fact, I think Levi is somekind of a “Gary Stu” here. How could he not? He’s kind- very much kind. He can understand Cath’s weirdness; Cath’s obsession over Simon and Baz. And… well, everything about Cath that was so hateful for me. He’s everyone’s dream guy… I guess.
Reagan, is another favorite of mine. She’s the most interesting character here, I guess. She’s blunt, careless, always acting as if she’s harsh and doesn’t care about things… but she’s kind enough. Kind enough to pity Cath, to not care of Cath’s harsh refusal over her and stick with her as a friend. Kind enough to not get mad or jealous enough when she saw Cath and Levi is going to be an “item”. She’s fun and- perfect! I love her.

Thus, due to everything, I’d pick 3 stars. Definitely can’t give a high one, since there’re things that I really hate there; yet, can’t give it lower too since nevertheless, I pretty much enjoyed reading it; to the point I could smile by myself.


One thought on “[Book Opinion] [English] Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

  1. Pingback: [MASTERPOST] 2015 Reading Challenge – KPB (Book Hoarders Community) | The Seventh Heaven

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