Fangirl | Rainbow Rowell | Book Review

The one thing you need to know about a Rainbow Rowell book before going in is that you are about to experience something special. Eleanor & Park was my first experience with Rowell’s books and set the bar rather high as to my expectations. As you can imagine, I went into Fangirl, Rowell’s ‘New Adult’ book with all sorts of hopes and ideas of what to expect. Thankfully, Rowell has this magical sort of way with words and was easily able to soar over my expectations with flying colors. I cannot praise Fangirl enough, in fact, I am about to say the same thing every other reviewer has said about this book — I want to ‘fangirl’ all over it. That is how much I love it, so much so that I have become a cliche.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | Good Books And Good Wine

Cath is about to start her freshman year of college, living a few hours away from her Omaha home. Unfortunately, she is in for some bad news. Her twin sister Wren has announced that she will not be rooming with Cath. You see, Cath had imagined a freshman year filled with co-writing fics with her sister. After all, Cath is a BNF (big name fan) in the Simon Snow fandom. Her Simon Snow slash-fic received tens of thousands of views. However, to meet Cath you would not know that she is such a big deal. She suffers from crippling social anxiety, whereas her sister Wren is typically the life of the party. To make matters even worse, Cath’s roommate Regean is really mean. Also? Her boyfriend Levi is there ALL OF THE TIME. Oh yeah, and Cath’s creative writing professor thinks fanfiction is plagiarism. It is shaping up to be quite the rough semester for Fangirl‘s main character.

There is absolutely no way possible for me to NOT like Cather ‘Cath’ Avery. She is such a nerd and quite unrepentant about her penchant for geeky t-shirts, cardigans, and glasses. Yet, she feels like more than a caricature. She carries around this anxiety that feels so very real. There’s a scene where she talks about being afraid to go to the dining hall alone because she thinks people will be watching her and criticizing her. She gets nervous about going to class. She hasn’t seen certain parts of campus because they are a bit off her beaten path. She doesn’t make friends easily. Frankly, if you are an introvert, you might really relate to Rainbow Rowell’s latest protagonist. The entire time though, instead of being irritated with Cath for having all these issues, I found myself rooting for her. She’s just real and raw and written in a way that lets it all hang out.

What I really and truly love about Rainbow Rowell’s books is that she lets nice guys finish first. Instead of celebrating arrogance, outlaws, and borderline rude behavior, the love interests are often kind, considerate, and genuine people. Fangirl is definitely no exception. I won’t tell you who the love interest is because it is kind of a surprise, or at least it was to me. Perhaps I am oblivious. However, I will say that you will find yourself shipping the two almost immediately. Cath’s love interest does things like walk her home late at night. He drives her places at a moment’s notice. He has his faults as well, and they are real faults. Just know that there is a lot of depth and development in Fangirl’s romance. Think the definition of a slow burn or of carrying a torch for someone. Rowell has basically unlocked the perfection level with this book. Seriously Cath and her romantic interest might as well be my new OTP (one true pairing, FYI).

Rowell excels not just at romantic intimacy but also at detailing familial relationships. First, there is Cath’s relationship with her sister Wren. The two have always been close. Lately though, Wren makes Cath feel as though she is a burden. She seems to have no time for Cath and is spending all her free time with sorority girl Courtney or out drinking. Cath doesn’t get it. She doesn’t understand why Wren would rather drink than write Simon Snow and Baz fics with her. Fangirl does a superb job navigating the tenuous bond between sisters. This is not the only family layer in the book though. There is also the relationship between Cath and her ad executive father. You see, her father is the sole caretaker of the girls. Mom peaces out when they were kids. Yet, Dad is not quite perfect. He has very manic moments and well, there’s some mental illness there. Yet, it’s dealt with in such a respectful, realistic way. Then, of course, there are Cath’s unresolved feelings over her mother. This will play an important role. Personally, I loved Rowell’s exploration of the ties that bind, so to speak.

I had planned to write a paragraph about Simon Snow, the fictitious magic wielder. However, I think I will just leave it at the fact that Snow is a fun tip of the hat to Harry Potter, but with vampires. Also? Rowell includes excerpts from the Simon Snow books and from Cath’s fanfictions between chapters, adding to the overall authenticity and feel of the book.

I feel like I could read books about the rest of Cath’s college career, I was so riveted by Fangirl. Everything is wrapped up perfectly in this book though. There’s the right amount of character growth and development. There are swoons. There is family drama. Rowell captures what it’s like to be an anxious college freshman. Every character within the book has an interesting arc. Fangirl will certainly have you shipping your favorite characters and cheering for what is canon in Rowell’s book.

Disclosure: Review Copy Obtained Via Amazon Vine

Other reviews of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell:

Cuddlebuggery – “I want to marry this book
Angieville – “I fell on page one.
Great Imaginations – “I give her major accolades

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. What a lovely review. I really enjoyed this too. I also liked the love interest. It’s great that he’s a nice guy, but I particularly liked that he was imperfect – that he quasi cheated on her early in the story. Not that I condone what he did obviously but it added layers to his character that most authors never attempt.

  2. I loved this book too! I found myself really identifying with Cath, and I adored the romance. Great review!

  3. Your review makes me so happy! I loved this book and I get all giddy seeing other people fangirl over it. 🙂 I saw the love interest thing coming but that didn’t make it any less cute. Just everything about this book was great.

  4. So glad you read and enjoyed this one! It was one of my favorites of the year. I think what I love most about Rainbow’s books is that her characters are real. They’re average people who are easy to relate to. I totally found myself relating to Cath – add the fanfiction and she could’ve been me in college!

  5. I’ve heard such beautiful things about Rowell’s writing (and this book) that it’s a wonder I haven’t picked it up already. What is WRONG with me?! Anything that explores not just the love interest but familial relationships as well as relationships with ones self, is definitely a plus, especially when they’re done in such a relatable, realistic way. Not to mention, I’m also quite intrigued to read some of Cath’s fan fiction…

  6. There is so much to love about this book! I really connected with Cath especially her struggles to adjust to college life. I enjoyed the fanfic excerpts too. My favorite part of the book was definitely the characters and their growth. Eleanor & Park is still my favorite but this was excellent too. Now I just need to read Attachments…

    Great review!

  7. Fantastic review of a fantastic book! Fangirl is one of my favorite books from last year and I just reread it yesterday (forgot my current at home in the rush to leave for work).

    Reading it makes me excited to read Ms. Rowell’s other books though nervous at the same time. My expectations are so high that I’m afraid I will be disappointed but your review as give me some hope. Happy Reading!

  8. I loved Eleanor and Park so much, and it’s good to know that Fangirl is also excellent. I’m really excited to read more of Rowell, and Fangirl seems just up my alley. Thank you for the review – I don’t think I’ve seen many detailed reviews of Fangirl, so I’m happy to hear about your experience with it.

  9. What a great review. I’ve been dying to get my hands on a copy, but your review makes me want to grab a copy now. My niece received the book for Christmas and promises to let me borrow it and Eleanor & Park when she is done reading them. 🙂 CHEERS!

  10. Rainbow Rowell is definitely amazing. You are so right, I totally related to Cath being an introvert myself. It was actually a little too much at first, because I felt like I was reading about me, and not someone else. And I was looking at things that I could have done differently.

    I’m glad you liked this. I’ve loved all three of Rowell’s books. I love that they are all different (the stories and characters) but the tone of her books and the writing are the same. I have no idea if that makes sense. Sorry if that’s confusing.

  11. Like you, I really loved Cath in this book! Rainbow did a great job writing her character, as I could totally relate to her introversion and social anxiety. It felt so REAL and that’s definitely what I appreciated most about this story.

    I also loved the family relationships, the friendships and the romance. But really, I was also a big fan of the Simon Snow stories so I had fun with the excerpts!

  12. Rainbow Rowell is pure perfection. Her books are just fantastic and Fangirl is the latest in a string of winners from her. I’m so glad you loved it!!

  13. YAY, I am happy you loved this, even though I didn’t really think there was a universe in which you wouldn’t. :-p

    Cath’s anxiety was perfectly done, and I felt so much for her. I could totally have been that girl. I mean, seriously, I understand the fear of not wanting to go to the dining hall if you missed a week and aren’t sure how it works, because you’d feel so dumb. OH, in high school, I always arrived like a half hour early the last couple years because I’d never had a tardy and had no idea what the process was if you were late so I COULD NOT BE LATE.

    The love interest also would have been a surprise for me, but the editor spoiled it at BEA, which lame. BUt whatever, I ship it OTP level. Yes, indeed. Also, I love that they are perfect but that he’s not my type at all but I still looooove them together. HE IS UNIQUE.

    I want more books that are like this about college. SO MUCH.