Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl

Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publish Date: September 10th, 2013

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

From the author of the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park.

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate 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.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

“Touching and utterly real.” —  Publisher’s Weekly


Review

I liked Fangirl a lot more than I did Eleanor & Park but I was still let down by it. I’ve heard from many people about how much they loved Rainbow Rowell’s books and I still haven’t felt that magical love for her books that I’ve been expecting. It hasn’t met up to the hype that it gets.

Cather is a freshman at her Omaha college. She is a huge fangirl when it comes to Simon Snow and has been, ever since she read them. Her twin sister Wren, originally her best friend, has decided to room with someone else and make new friends. This wouldn’t be that big of a problem, if not for the fact that Cather is socially inept.

Fangirl covers a few ideas. Coping mechanisms, growing up, divorce, plagiarism, etc, but it didn’t really go as deep as I would have liked it to be. Many of the details seemed glossed over. Her mother leaving her is one of the central conflicts of the book, yet it’s barely even explored. In this case, I felt like the romance in the book drowned the other parts. I would have liked the book more if the romance was more of a side to the other plot aspects. I mean, obviously the book is literally about how Cather, her fangirl-ness, her family issues, and how she learns to not depend on it as much. The fact that Rowell chose to focus on the romance aspect instead annoyed me.

The characters were alright but I didn’t really feel attached to any of them. Simon Snow  was clearly a reference to Harry Potter. Cather was a complicated character and I enjoyed her growth from the beginning to the end of the book but I never really connected. I didn’t like her but I enjoyed reading about her, if that makes any sense at all. I wasn’t ever emotionally invested in this book. I never shipped Levi and Cather. I didn’t empathize with the characters. The book was enjoyable but it was missing that connection that would have made it even better.

The plot was pretty dull. It was interesting enough for me to continue reading, but it wasn’t really anything that I found new. I liked the little excerpts of the Simon Snow stories. The ending was terrible. Abrupt and ties nothing up.

The one thing that was the bulk of the good aspects of Fangirl was the relationships the characters had. I loved the relationship between Cather and her sister Wren. They were drawn extremely well. Cather’s relationship  was her father was explored excellently. It was probably my favorite relationship in the book. I do feel that Rowell could have explored Cather’s relationship with Laura more. It too, was glossed over.

There honestly isn’t much to say about Fangirl. It was a solid book with great writing. The only problems was that it was hard to connect with the characters (to me at least) and that it felt shallow. The raw issues that Cather faces aren’t brought to light and dealt with in a way that’s realistic to the situation. This is something that I’ve noticed is consistent throughout her novels. She chooses to discuss difficult topics, but then she does not talk about them in a way that makes it realistic. People fawn over how her novels have lots of verisimilitude in them, but then important issues such as these aren’t discussed in a way that is realistic.

It’s safe to say that I will not be picking up any more Rainbow Rowell books from here on out.

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2/5 Stars

Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Publish Date: February 26th, 2013

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, YA, Historical

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.


Review

I wanted to love this one so much.

I started this book mainly due to the huge hype and because there were copies of it at the school library. Obviously, if i can get the book without having to wait or put a hold on it, it’s a lot better for me. I checked it out, along with a number of other books two weeks ago. Eleanor and Park was the first on the stack. I went into it knowing almost nothing about it. I knew that it was probably a romance novel and that the main characters were Eleanor and Park.  From the very beginning, I could tell that I wasn’t going to like it very much. But I held out hoping that maybe, just maybe it’d grow on me and that I’d experience the feels and happiness that other readers had felt.

It didn’t.

From the first moment I saw the cover of this book, I had thought that Park looked Asian. I was right; he turned out to be half-Korean. I appreciate that Rowell decided to write about an interracial relationship and an Asian/Caucasian one at that because there’s very few books that deal with these types of couples. The problem that I had with the relationship was that it was too abrupt. It’s a case of insta-love mixed with bi-polar syndrome. Their first interaction is the moment when Park tells Eleanor to sit down on the bus. It’s not a very polite exchange and neither of them are left with positive relations. Eleanor refers to Park as “the stupid Asian”. Park is upset about it. I couldn’t see how Rowell was going to make a relationship about this without making it ridiculously cliche. My questions were answered when suddenly, the two begin to develop crushes on each other. It wasn’t the classic love/hate relationship because all of a sudden a switch flipped in their brains that made them like each other. It comes out of nowhere. I personally feel like their relationship feels like one where they got together because of convenience. They’re sitting next to each other on the bus everyday so why not get together while they’re at it? If I dated every person I sat next to every day I think I would have to shoot myself.

Bi-polor insta-love is one thing, but the rest of the relationship was just as bad. If you ask me, it felt like a really unhealthy relationship. Eleanor was always so insecure about it, constantly getting jealous and mad about the things that Park would do. If they were truly a happy couple, she wouldn’t feel so unconfident about it. I understand that she has those family problems, but I didn’t think she needed to always take out her emotions in insecurities on Park.

The characters in this book were a mixed bag. I hated Eleanor. I didn’t like her character or her personality or how even though her family is suffering, she doesn’t think to help them at all. If they tell her to not call the police, she meekly doesn’t even if she knows that it would help. She could’ve cared less about what happened to her family as long as she wasn’t hurt. It’s like she thought the whole world was against her and that she’s never in the wrong. Her problems might have been bigger than Park’s, but she handled them so badly. On the other hand, I liked Park. I liked reading about his family’s banter and the difficulties that he faced. He could have been a great character but he wasn’t fleshed out as well as I would have liked. Eleanor’s black friends were really fun to read about (even if a bit stereotyped). I loved the interactions that Eleanor had with them. Some characters were good, but the ones that weren’t, really really weren’t good.

This book was one of the most boring books I have ever read. Almost nothing happens besides the relationship Eleanor has with Park and the family interactions they have.  The plot is the slow way they fall in love during a school year. *yawn* When I was 1/4 of the way through, I looked at the page number and realized, “Holy crap there’s another two hundred pages to read. I’m going to die of boredom.” This never happens to me with books. Never. I sincerely hope that Eleanor and Park doesn’t get a sequel.

I think that there’s a problem with a book if I don’t realize that it’s in a certain time period until I look online. I knew that it was probably set sometime in the 1900’s but never did it cross my mind that it would be 1986. Um, please explain to me how Park hasn’t been bullied as much as his real life counterparts would have? Even in modern-day America, Asians are bullied for being who they are. I can’t even begin to believe that it wouldn’t have happened in 1986. The same goes for Eleanor’s friends Beebi and DeNice. The fact that they weren’t bullied by the white girls in the gym class surprises me.

Another thing. How did Park’s mom get carted off to America? She most likely didn’t know any English and I doubt that her parents would let her be taken. How does Park have green eyes? The brown allele is dominant. All Asians have brown eyes and since her ancestors are all Asian, it’s impossible that she would have a recessive gene for green eyes. Therefore, the only possible eye color their kids would have would be brown.

I do admit that the writing was well done. It had a John Green feel which most would probably think is a good thing. I could care less because I didn’t like his books but his flow was great and Rowell’s was too.

Not bad but I’m not on the bandwagon for this book. I’m hoping that Fangirl is a better read.

2/5 Stars