A character study of the human fangirl

Edit 07/08/15:  A longer version of this review can now be found over at Sappho’s Torque.

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013.

Ah, the fascinating world of fandom.  I first discovered Fanfiction.net in early high school, when I was searching for evidence that I wasn’t the only fan of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, nor the only Sarah/Jareth shipper (and of course I wasn’t.  By any long shot in the universe).  I started posting my own fics around junior year, when I was deeply engulfed in the Harry Potter world, as well as in Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children series.  Nothing on the level of Carry On, Simon, of course.

And then, in May of 2012, I discovered BBC’s Sherlock and fell head over heels for Johnlock.  Reading the “excerpts” from Cath’s Simon/Baz stories has definitely made me nostalgic for those early days in the Sherlock-dom, and had me jonesing for a re-read of my favorite five.

Rainbow Rowell gets it.  She gets the joy of expanding and exploring areas of a ‘verse where the original authors/creators haven’t gone, or don’t wish to go.  She also sees why some people might have problems with fanfiction — though, the jacket-flap exaggerates re: Cath’s professor’s attitude.  She never disparages fanfiction as a whole/its right to exist.  She just doesn’t like students turning in fanfiction for assignments (if I was a creative writing instructor, though, I would’ve made that clear in my syllabus, so there’d be no confusion later).

Rowell also gets how overwhelming college life + things back home + your own evolving sense of self can get.  So much so that, about halfway through, she started to hit a bit too close to home; it’s lucky the story was compelling enough to keep me going after a short break, and of course it’s a credit to Rowell for creating such relatable characters.

P.S. I totally want to know what Simon Snow and the Selkies Four is about.  Who are these four selkies??

P.S.2.  OMG Rowell is actually going to publish a Carry On book, which will actually be about Simon and Baz!  Sweet!


  1. Hi. I’d like to chat with you about the possibility of guest posting on my blog. Can you send me a PM please? Email me at forest[dot]of[dot]diamonds[at]gmail[dot]com. Thanks!

  2. I did like that not only does this author understand the world of fanfic, as you say she really understands how it is for some college students, when college life, things back home, and an evolving sense of self crash into each other and re-form from the pieces.

    • Exactly! And besides wanting to know what would happen, what helped me keep going was the sense that Cath would be able to pick up the pieces. I.e. the story was realistic about how overwhelming college life can be, but it was also optimistic about a person’s ability to get through the hard parts.

  3. […] Today’s review comes to us from Nerija, whose blog Postcards from La-La Land is worth checking out. When I saw her review of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl there, I asked her to share it with the Women Writers Wednesday series, and she graciously obliged. What follows here is a longer/modified version of her review, which was originally posted here. […]

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