Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.


FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell follows Cather (Cath) Avery in her first year at college where she struggles with her social anxiety and introverted personality. She’s in a location that thrives on outgoing personalities and boisterous social events fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol. She is also forced to juggle her online fanfiction uploads, her studies, and the attention of two boys she doesn’t understand. Rowell completely nails the newbie-at-college anxiety and the worries that Cath manages to inflict on herself through stubbornly refusing to participate.

Fangirl is a rare gem among YA novels as Cath represents a contingent of active but completely underrepresented and frequently stereotyped teenagers that inhabit one particular corner of the internet. Many people regularly create elaborate works of fan fiction, riffing off their favourite films/TV shows/books/anime or anything else that takes their fancy, only recently noticed in mainstream media. Talk show hosts have begun to use the elaborate creations of fanfic (writing, drawing or cosplays) to tease or embarrass the celebrities that they interview. This is a negative commentary on the phenomenon, attempting to reduce these talented creators to an adult idea of silly teenage girls indulging in obsessive fads. That’s incorrect and insulting. Rowell gives an honest description of the life of a fanfic author followed by a small army of readers waiting avidly for the next chapter to be uploaded. The reactions and opinions of her friends and family are realistic for this aspect of Cath’s life, and mostly quite sweet.

It’s definitely a novel to take you on an emotional rollercoaster. You’ll find yourself gasping, cringing, and wanting to slap sense into people, but equally you’ll be laughing and squeeing (that butt-wiggling, arm-flapping, face-squishing dance we all do when something really good happens) with gleeful abandon. In the end it’s a feel-good story and a smart, funny and honest one at that. It covers the good, the bad and the ugly, from teenage crushes to the worrying drinking habits of a sibling, to difficult academic decisions. Readers of any age will be able to relate to a lot of the novel, but only a small number will be an active part of a fandom. For us Fangirl is as if someone has written fanfiction based on each of our lives.

Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell (2013), ISBN 978-1447263227

Holly looks after dogs, houses, children, but not Pringles: she eats those.

3 comments on “Fangirl

  1. Leena
    September 8, 2014

    This sounds splendid, Holly! I know a little something about fandom (having had something like 200 actor crushes in my life, it’s inevitable…) but fan fiction is like an alien planet to me. Look forward to reading this one.

  2. everydayhas
    September 8, 2014

    What Leena said. Love books that take me to nèw places!

  3. jillaurellia
    September 9, 2014

    I found this blog through a fandom! Love Rainbow and her writing.

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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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