Monday, October 28, 2013
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It's been so long since I wrote a review, I'm not sure I remember how to do it.
JK! LOL! (ironic) (also not)
Color Me: Fan4Life. Rainbow Rowell has won me over. If I loved Eleanor & Park, I LOVE-LOVE-LOVED Fangirl.
Let's get one thing straight. I have been a superfan of a great many things, but I have never been a fan of fan-fiction. Ever. As a writer, I have far too many of my own stories clawing to get out than I have urges to steal/borrow/manipulate others'. I can also say that boy-on-boy fanfic, particularly about non-gay characters, particularly particularly written by straight teenage girls...is one of the things I just do not get about the universe. (Will and Jem? No. Sherlock and John? Never. Dean and Cas? Stop ruining things!)
That said, Rowell's coming-of-age dramedy/romcom about antisocial college freshman/online fanfic superstar Cath was a tiny taste of heaven that entirely consumed my world for 48 hours straight. I could not put this story down (read: could not stop listening to this audiobook) even though I had my own college assignments to work on (and still do even as I type this).
Writing Technique: ★★★★1/2 Rowell has a way with a words. A very serious way. I love it. I love the expression "skimming the surface of reality." I love that she writes freaking brilliant, hilarious dialogue (see below). I love that all of her characters truly have their own voices. I love that this fiction about a writer of fanfiction of a fake fiction included that fake fiction and fake fanfiction. My only reservation is her preference for the F-word. I'm good at tuning that stuff out. But after some of the reactions toward the profanity (etc.) in E&P, I realize I can't expect everyone (including a lot of my friends) to be so blase about it.
Here are some quotes I adored:
“I feel sorry for you, and I'm going to be your friend."
"I don't want to be your friend," Cath said as sternly as she could. "I like that we're not friends."
"Me, too. I'm sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”
“You’re never going to find a guy who’s exactly like you—first of all, because that guy never leaves his dorm room.…”
“What's the plan?' she asked.
He grinned. 'My plan is to do things that make you want to hang out with me again tomorrow. What's your plan?'
'I'm going to try not to make an ass of myself.'
He grinned. 'So we're all set.”
“How do you not like the Internet? That's like saying, 'I don't like things that are convenient. And easy. I don't like having access to all of mankind's recorded discoveries at my fingertips. I don't like light. And knowledge.”
I also the entire laundry conversation which is much too long to post here but made me literally clamp my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing out loud while I listened to it in bed with my sleeping husband and baby.
Plot/Story Development: ★★★★ We have a gifted writer wasting her time (IMO) on fanfic. A twin sister (the cool one) looking for independence. A terrible mother, who left. A wonderful father, who's crazy. A world-wise roommate who is terrifying. A creative writing teacher who doesn't appreciate fan fiction. A boy who never stops smiling. And a crippling fear of anything resembling life. All issues collide into a glorious laughable mess. And while much of it is like tequila in that it's "more about the journey than the destination," I found myself immeasurably pleased by the end. Especially that bit at the very very end.
Sidebar: I love that this is a love story that doesn't make me feel all dirty and stupid. It's not smutty (although not prudish or even necessarily innocent). And it's not that the character doesn't feel stupid, just that I don't. That makes for good romance in my opinion.
Character Development: ★★★★★ Way to go, Cath. You didn't get absolutely all of your sh*t together, but neither have I. You were straight up neurotic. You've got trust issues and mommy issues and daddy issues and sister issues and reality issues and generally a lot of issues. But I really liked you. And I loved watching you grow and mature and learn how to life real freaking life and get over at least some of your issues.
Sidebar II: I feel this book could definitely do with a companion, because Cath's twin Wren was clearly dealing with her own issues too in a much louder, crazed, drunken way. And I want to know her story equally muchly.
Sidebar III: somehow Rowell made me fall in love with a farmboy from Nebraska who doesn't do books or the internet and aspires to work on a ranch. In my wildest dreams, I would not have believed this possible. But Levi stole my heart completely. Yay for boys who aren't dicks, or moody and broken, or too far from reality. Yay for smiling.
Message/Theme: ★★★★★ family, friendship, social disorders, love, abandonment, reality v. fantasy, growing up, maturity, introversion, optimism, finding oneself...you know, college crap.
Rating: R for language, sensuality, and alcohol use
Audiobook Performance: ★★★★ Rebecca Freaking Lowman has the vocal equivalent of sad eyes. She can be saying the happiest thing and it still has the most peculiar tinge of depression. I've listened through Starters and Eleanor & Park with her, and I HATED the first and LOVED the second. But the second was a sad-feeling book, so it was appropriate. This one wasn't sad as much as introverted. I felt like the book was shy and needed to be let loose, which is to say Rowell wrote it amazingly well. Lowman performed well also. She had a great voice for quiet Cath. But I'd like someone a bit less tragic sounding for RR's next book.
Maxwell Caulfield though is freaking magic. I'm not trying to be funny. He has a voice for whimsy. I want him to talk me to sleep every night. Like a long lost British grandfather telling me timeless stories and smelling of sugared coffee. Mmmmmmmm.
Overall: ★★★★★ I adored this. Even more than Eleanor & Park. Now I'm getting Attachments so I can say I'm a full on RR fan. You should read this book, but only if you want to feel light as a feather afterward.
#fanfiction #introverts #noteveryonehastobescaryanddamaged
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