I read the excerpt for Fangirls on Goodreads and the very next day I bought it for Kindle. I read it in one night.
This book is well-written, engaging and does well juggling Cath’s world, her fanfiction’s world and the canon world of Simon Snow. As a teenager fanfiction was incredibly influential for me and my friends, and the novel captures that feeling of community, of connection with a fictional world and others who love it very well. Fandoms are still a part of my life and a bonding point for many of my friendships now into my twenties.
I really enjoyed how Cath’s dedication to the fandom is portrayed here, that it’s an escape but also and outlet for her to explore her skills and emotions, as well as develop her writing. Another great thing I thought was the development of all the characters throughout the story. Even with unlikeable characters, or characters that Cath disliked, they weren’t flat villains. I also liked that even though I was firmly on Cath’s side throughout the novel, I didn’t feel like she was blameless. Her anxiety and avoidance behaviors have consequences for her and she isn’t always right in a fight. The entire portrayal of mental illness, of anxiety and bipolar disorder in particular were well handled, honest and didn’t attempt to sugar coat it. Again, Cath’s behavior, her avoidance has consequences. As someone with anxiety problems, that were particularly bad my first years of college, I appreciated that.
I also really adored the characters the dialogue had me cackling at several points and I adored Reagan, not only for her bluntness and sarcasm, but also for her honesty about mental illness. I also enjoyed the fact that a larger woman was portrayed as confident, beautiful, sexual and while she was important for Cath, she also had her own life. That’s just awesome.
I also really enjoyed the novel’s pacing, it’s over 400 pages and never dragged for me, I never skimmed (I am an antagonistic reader, I am terrible truly) I was eager to flip to the next page by the last sentence of the current one. I also was genuinely surprised several times, which is rare for me (I am the jerk who accidentally guesses whodunnit all the time in movies). I loved that, I loved being set up to expect one thing to happen by foreshadowing and be caught by surprise.
There were a few moments towards the end that I wanted more from, particularly the fight between her and Levi. I felt like Cath’s realization and moment of change was built up to, but thought Levi’s response was too easy, it did keep in character though, so I may be nitpicking. I also admit I wanted more from the ending, but I think that’s mostly because I was really enjoying Cath’s fanfic myself and wanted more of it.
Also, Emergency Kanye Dance Party.
All in all, this really is a good book, I related to the freshman experience, the struggling with anxiety and the experience of creative writing classes. (The comeuppance for a character in the class there is a thing of beauty) I do recommend this.(less)