Shiirleyy's Bookshelf has migrated to Dear Shirley ! I will continue to post book reviews but there will also be a lot of personal and travel-related posts :)

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

1 Apr 2014

by Rainbow Rowell 
Publisher: Pan Macmillan  
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Format: Paperback, 300 pages

 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. 

 Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate 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.

 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 . . .

Fangirl was possibly my most anticipated book of the year (after I discovered it would be published in Australia – PAN MACMILLAN, YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING!) and I’m thrilled to announce Fangirl was extraordinarily awesome! I have to admit it was different from what I had expected, but I loved it all the same :) Fangirl was cute, relaxing and relatable, and it was exactly the kind of book I needed to keep me sane while I studied for exams.

When we were first introduced to Cath and Wren, I was completely nonplussed as to how they were ever friends, let alone attached at the hip. Even though they’re twins, they’re polar opposites. One's the shy, nerdy, fan-fic writer who barricades herself in her room and is scared of meeting new people while the other is outgoing, energetic and the life of the party. Basically Cath and Wren did everything together from the day they were born, all the way till right before college. When they entered college, Wren wanted to experience the whole package that college has to offer – partying, drinking, developing friendships with a new network of people, but Cath only wanted to continue to continue writing fanfiction about Simon Snow and pretty much continue the life she led before.

I felt I could easily relate to both Cath and Wren (although I did become annoyed at both of them several times throughout the book). I could relate to how Cath was intimidated by the size of the college, and the huge mass of people everywhere. She’s the type of person who would mind her own business, keep her head down wherever she goes and avoid eye contact with everyone. That’s kind of like me so I was able to understand how she felt. On the other hand, I could also understand Wren’s desire to live the college life. You know the saying “You only live once” (YOLO)? Yeah, well that’s exactly the kind of mindset many first years have when they decide to experience the social side of Uni.  Partying, drinking, stumbling home at 6 in the morning and rocking up disheveled to a 9am class while nursing a hangover happens. While I disliked how Wren treated Cath during her ‘transition-to-Uni-phase” (mocking Cath and her fan fiction, ignoring her sometimes) it did feel like normal behaviour to me. At times Wren’s indifference to Cath’s life, and her reluctance to share her thoughts and feelings to Cath irked me. I mean, they were still best friends….right? Likewise, Cath’s adamant refusal to participate in any social activity got on my nerves after a while.

Now, at first I thought ‘Fangirl’ was a book about me as I tend to fangirl over everything. (Yes, just ask my friends. I’m pretty sure they’re sick of me fangirling over hot celebrities. ) However, after reading Fangirl I can safely say that compared to Cath, I’m no where near deserving of the title ‘Fangirl’. This girl is literally nuts. (In a good way!) She’s so obsessed with the series Simon Snow to the point her room is covered from floor to ceiling with posters of Simon Snow; she’s the most popular/famous author of the fanfiction Carry On, dedicated to Simon Snow; she wears T-shirts with the words ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON’ AND she can write 10 000 words – if memory serves- of Carry On in one day on top of her Uni workload. This girl is freaking insane! But she’s so insane I love her to smithereens. I mean, I love certain books, movies, TV Shows and actors but I could never devote half as much time as her to these favourites of mine.

The only downfall was a lack of resolution for some of the subplots. I felt that even though there was an attempt to wrap up each of the subplots, it could benefit from a more solid resolution. There are still so many ‘why’s’ and ‘how’s’ and ‘will this ever happen’ circling in my head and I guess I’d be much more content if these questions were answered. Nevertheless, I’m happy with how everything turned out in the end!

Also, special mentions to:

  • o   Cath and Wren’s father for being the COOLEST father on the planet. He seemed so chill about everything; even when Cath brought home a guy for the first time, he didn’t even bat an eyelid. Plus he’s very lenient about everything!
  • o   Levi for being the SWEETEST boyfriend ever<3 Also, he needs to stop being a ‘nice guy’. Levi is the reason girls friendzone so many of their guy friends. You’re too nice mate, wayyyy too nice!
  • o   Reagan for being the most UNUSUAL best friend<3  Reagan isn’t your usual sidekick. Hell, with her fiery personality, she’ll never be the sidekick. I love how she took Cath under her wing and looked after her! Reagan deserves a massive gold medal J

As you can tell, I genuinely adored Fangirl. Rainbow Rowell is an incredibly talented author and I shall be hunting down all her books now! Guys, you HAVE TO READ THIS. I recommend buying/reading this ASAP.

A massive thank you to Pan Macmillan for providing a copy of Fangirl for review!


  1. I totally agree with you. After waiting for this book to come out in the UK, I was super excited to receive it! I really liked the writing style with the Simon Snow extracts in between and how they would inspire Cath's writing. Oh and Cath and Levi were adorable, it was totally outside her comfort zone yet she felt totally relaxed. I think with this novel there is a lot to relate to I think. Especially the 'Emergency Dance Party' I totally do that all the time! Lovely review, my friend! :)

  2. Wonderful review, Shirley! I think I would've been a little upset by Wren just basically dumping her sister, but I guess you have to look on it from both sides. Cath does seem a little overboard with the fangirling, and that could get old if you want to live in the real world. Although, I hate to throw stones from this glass house I live in, lol! My nose is basically in a book or on the computer when I'm not a work. Great review! :)

  3. AHHH Shirley I'm so jealous! I sent in a request but never got a reply. :'( BUT I WILL READ THIS SOON I PROMISE. I laughed when you described Cath as insane. Her obsession does seem a tad over the top, but it's cool to have a character who just doesn't care what others think and will stick with what she loves no matter what. I can't wait to meet Levi. I like sweet guys, so I want to know how sappy he gets haha. Wonderful review lovely! xx

  4. Yay!!!! I am so glad that you ended up loving this book too Shirley, I had read another book by Rowell before this so was a little wary going into this book, but I am so glad that I ended up giving this book a go, because it had everything that I needed! It left me with a huge dopey grin on my face, but also choked up at times. And Rowell really was awesome at creating brilliant characters! I loved Levi, Reagan, Cath's dad and Cath! Lovely review!


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