Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fangirl: Why Did You Do That?

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I didn't really enjoy Fangirl. I know, what a terrible bookworm I am! 

FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell, contemporary YA. 

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life.

Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible ...

I enjoyed: 

I understood Cath, I really did. I kind of am Cath. Her social anxieties were so well described, I decided I was going to read the book in one sitting (I did). I understood not wanting to go to the cafeteria by herself. I understood not wanting to share a room with a stranger. I understood that writing was her escape. 

I also thought Levi was quite well written. I thought he was a player, and very confused about what he wanted, but I think people like him are around. The same with Reagan, Cath's room mate. I liked that she was short with Cath, but also caring. I know people like that. 

Wren and Cath's dad was well written, and I could see how Cath had ended up like she was. Nick, the boy in Cath's writing class was a mystery, and we never really find much out about him, and that didn't bother me until he suddenly turned up again. 

The relationships in this book were very well written. Wren and Cath, Levi and Cath, Reagan and Levi, Cath and her dad. Cath and Nick. I thought that they were very realistic. 

I did not enjoy: 

Simon Snow. The extracts were pointless and boring. I thought that they were very badly written. The worst part of all of it must have been when Levi compares Simon Snow and Harry Potter. It made me want to scream, because Simon Snow was a bad rip off of Harry Potter. 

Also, I am not a fangirl, but I was under the impression that fans don't just write fan fiction, they talk on forums, and most of them have a Tumblr. However, none of this was really mentioned. It was just about what Cath does for the fandom. When she turns a piece of fan fiction and is told its plagiarism, I was like, well, duh, and I couldn't understand why she was upset. 

It is never really said how far they go, but I feel like Levi forces Cath to become very physical in their relationship. I couldn't understand what he saw in her, so I wondered if he was just there for her body. It made me want to scream at Cath for not standing up and saying 'I'm not comfortable, so we stop because you understand that or I walk.' 

What was the point of Nick? Yes, him and Cath write well together, and he takes an interest in her. However, at the end, when Cath refuses to put her name on a piece they did together, meaning it cannot be published, I was quite angry. Why did she say no? What was the point? It just made her look bitter and cruel. I felt like she had a taste of power, and was abusing it. 

In Conclusion: 

This is not a book about fangirls, or a fandom. This is a coming of age. It raises some good questions, but in the end, I think Rowell has more of a talent for creating realistic characters than a good plot. I have a soft spot for character driven novels, so I gave FANGIRL 3 stars. 

Wild Horse would like you to know she is eating peach slices from a can. Her parents are both working, so they aren't here to feed her. She is wondering if this is what it's like to be a poor student. If so, she's pleased that you can get lots of things in cans. 


  1. Is it okay if I clarify?

    I'm gonna clarify.

    I think maybe because you're not a fangirl, it was perhaps hard for you to understand some of the culture behind this book. No, I haven't read it, but I am a fangirl, and I'm a staunch supporter of fan fiction, fan art, and all the things we do to show that we are proud to have been part of a work of art someone else made.

    Being in a fandom is not about having a Tumblr or doing a cosplay, or however you express your enjoyment. It's about participating. You mentioned a few ways people participate, but there is no requirement for any one fan to do one thing or another. Some fans are only going to write fan fiction and others are only going to spend time dressing up as fans and making their parents broke at Comic Con. Some people live on Tumblr and others use canvas, or apples, or a blog to express their love.

    Maybe you've never observed it this way... But I did want to make sure you at least had another viewpoint.

    And so, I don't dispute you on the characters, or the writing, or any of that, and you're totally welcome to your opinion in that regard. The book itself doesn't look interesting to me; it's out of my genre. Bu-u-ut I will still respectfully post this comment. Because, at least to me, it would make perfect sense to have someone else diss your writing because it's fan fiction.

    1. You clarify! :)

      Perhaps you are correct. However, the tittle suggested more to do with being a fangirl, but that wasn't what the book was really about. Any part that was, was about what Cath did for that fandom. I guess (I don't know) that a fandom is a community- So yes, you might only write fan fiction, but surely you enter the community? It is mentioned once or twice that Cath doesn't have time to respond to comments, but thats about it.

      I should clarify the whole turning-the fan-fiction-in part. Cath tries to turn her fan fiction in for an assignment in her creative writing class. Using fan fiction like that is plagiarism. When she is told that by her teacher, she gets upset, even though she knows the characters aren't hers, even if the storyline might be.

      I didn't understand some of the culture, you are correct. It made me wonder why people get caught up in it so much. You have to seriously love something to go out and spend so much time on it. And many people add to or change the story (which Cath did, she makes the equivalent to Malfoy and Harry gay) and I don't understand why you would want to change something you love so much.

      So yeah :)

    2. Hm. I dunno; maybe it was just the most identifiable part of her identity? I don't know, again, because I haven't read it, but just imagine if we had to name our books on their genre. XD "Bildungsroman" would get pretty old, pretty quick. Just a speculation. And I don't think so about the community, exactly—I mean, yes, the fandom is a group effort, but I think if you want to be a solo fangirl you're welcome to be so. An example is my sister, who doesn't really spend much time on the Internet but she still gets plenty excited about books all by herself; I still consider her part of the fandom.

      My sister actually explained this to me before we went to school; and sorry, didn't realize. Oops! But yes, that is a kind of daring I would not try to do. Except for a chemistry assignment, but that was everyone's job.

      Also, yes. You do have to love something a lot to spend a lot of time on it, but without sounding weird, for a lot of people—they don't really think they're changing the story. It's like if you have a Canon house, and the house is everything the author built—the fanfic writer cuts out a hole into the house, and builds a door that leads to their own hall of additions. Some people spend so much time going through that door that they may stop being able differentiate between the Canon house and the addition they built (yes, I've had this problem), and others merely see their additions as logical conclusions from what they gleaned from the text. People will use anything to support their ships.

      So... if that makes sense... Most people see it as reinterpretation, rather than changing. So... yeah. XD

    3. Mmmmhmm I guess so. It's just that I didn't feel like with all the people she said were desperately waiting to read each new piece she wrote, she was a solo fangirl. Maybe her social anxiety made her a solo fangirl. Again, not being really into fangirling and all that, I wouldn't know.

      I see what you mean- I personally follow some of the Harry Potter stuff and a lot of the Ally Carter stuff. I'm not interested in the story being changed though. Additions I generally can agree with. But when you change something fundamentally- I don't like that.

      The characters are the original authors, and he or she has written them to be the way they thought the characters would behave. So when you change something big in the characters, that annoys me. The original author knows the characters best.

      If that makes sense?

      I would probably never make it as a fangirl xD

    4. Well, I know a big thing for other readers (from other reviews I've read) was her social anxiety, so that would explain why she wasn't really into the community. Social disorders can be crippling, regardless of who you are. It's sad. :(

      *nods* I gotcha, and sometimes people are ridiculous, which is annoying. And there are a lot of canonists out there, so don't think you're alone. XD Of course, I'd also make the argument that no one ever writes the same two characters, which means that, in essence, the two can't be compared well anyway. It does make sense, though.

      At least for me, I don't see people complain about fan art, which is basically just visual fan fiction, so I guess it just bothers me a little bit when people make a big deal about one thing but not about another equal offense (to my way of thinking). Anyway, I do know there are differences between the two, so don't quote me on that.

      Either way, it's totally fine if you don't want to be a fangirl. :) It's just enjoyable to exchange differing ideas sometimes; I've kind of enjoyed this conversation...

    5. They are (personally I do suffer mildly from social anxiety, especially in new situations), but I don't have the same anxieties over the internet. But if you have severe social anxiety, perhaps even the internet is hard.

      I think you are right- everyone writes slightly different characters. But when you are using the name and parts of a character an author has created you are changing them to how you want them to be. Which if you love them enough, I don't see why you would want to do that.

      I don't have a problem with fan fiction or fan art, it's when you try to claim it as your own completely that makes me wonder what planet you are on. You're borrowing someone else's creation, then putting your own spin on it. When you make/write it, you should be aware of that.

      I guess that for me, if someone took my characters and (for example) made two of them gay (like Cath did) because they liked the idea of it, I would be pretty upset. I have it pretty clear in my head who will end up with whom in the end, and why. However, if a fan did it for fun, and never tried to claim it as original work I guess there's nothing I could do about it- except wonder what wasn't convincing enough about my writing that someone would want to change the story that I poured my heart into.

      In saying that, the whole world of Simon Snow and Fangirl is fictional anyway.

      I think I rambled there a bit, and it probably makes so sense. It is! I have enjoyed this conversation :)

    6. Agreed. I mean, it's easier without a face to look into, but I, for one, spend some of my time worrying about comments I've left on blogs and how people will react to emails I've sent. So it's not out of the realm of possibility.

      It's hard to explain, I guess. The story belongs to you, and so you change it because you love it. It doesn't work with people, but it seems to work with stories. *shrugs* It doesn't make sense but that is why I have a box of notebooks under my desk.

      And yes; most people do give credit to the original authors, so it mostly works out. I don't think anyone could get by with selling it, though.

      Well, I think I said it before, but fans like to read into the text. They will take someone walking in the same hallway as flirting. So, it makes sense to them. It's not necessarily what you as a writer did, but what they as a reader need to read; part of the reason we tend to write fan fiction is because we really identify the characters and can overlay them into our own situations. And so it's not about your heart, because they've had their fill of your heart--they want to work with their own hearts, and it can be very cathartic.

      But yes. They're not real.

      XD Yes, yes indeed.

    7. Hmmm yeah. Different again, I suppose, from putting the information out there for others to judge. Other people's reaction can be a big thing on the internet.

      I think the idea of changing a story because you love it will take me a long time to get used to. However, trying to pass it off as original work will probably always make my brain 'meh?'. I like fan fiction where they story can be overlaid with our situations, and I like the word you use to describe it "cathartic".

      I guess in the end, the goal is to create something readers will enjoy- in their different ways, be in fan fiction, fan art or solo-silently-celebrated. Long live all great stories! :)

  2. very nice review. I've seen this book around before, but I've never picked it up before. :)

    1. Thanks :) I would defiantly suggest reading it and forming your own idea's about it- everyone is different :)