When I received Fangirl in the 2019 Cannonball book exchange, the first thing I noticed about the cover of my edition (the one pictured in this review) was that the art was done by Noelle Stevenson. I adore Stevenson’s graphic novel Nimona and seeing her art on the book gave me a warm glow before even cracking the cover. This was in addition to the good will Rowell built up with Eleanor and Park, and Pumpkinheads, but it was low on the TBR so it stayed on the shelf. Several months later and Fangirl kept popping up during the Cannonball Instagram challenge in April and I decided now was the time.
All through March, and much of April, I have had difficulty focusing while reading. That was not a problem with this book, I blew through it in about two days. After finishing, I wondered if the reading funk was over but it took a couple weeks to plod through Spinning Silver, even though I was captivated by the story. Clearly, Fangirl, was something special that I needed in those two days. Carry On and Wayward Son are on their way from Mysterious Galaxy to fill my need for more Rowell in my life and to continue the magic spun in this book.
Part of the infatuation with Fangirl, is definitely tied to relating to Cath. Shy, anxious, awkward, anxious about being awkward; check, check, check, check . Beyond personality, just as equally important is Cath’s deep geeky love for her fandom. Reads fanfiction, collects special art, attends conventions, wears geeky t-shirts, would rather spend time with her characters than real people; check, check, check, check, and check. Along with this resonance, Rowell evoked so many feelings stirred up from memories; the queasy-ness of moving away from home, the rollercoaster of first love, the frustration and hurt of mixed signals and misunderstandings, the fear of thinking you’re failing at something you desperately want, the twisting complication of family, and the warmth of unexpected friendship.
But what swept me away was the romance between Cath and Levi. It felt genuine as Cath slowly realized how her feelings toward Levi were changing. My emotions rode along as Cath went through highs and lows. My gut twisted as Cath navigated the complications of her partnership with Nick. In the end, all turns out as it should, and I was beaming with happiness.
Fangirl left me intensely curious to read more in both Cath’s fanfiction and the Simon Snow canon Rowell created for this world. Those tiny snippets between chapters, alternating between the actual Simon Snow books and Cath’s fanfic version brought to life a whole fictional universe that I want to dive into. Fortunately, I kind of can. Per Amazon, “Carry On is a book that is meta in it’s concept. It’s based off of fan-fiction, about a fictional novel series, in another fiction novel”, so it’s inspired by the fanfic Cath was writing. Waiting for Carry On has me checking the front porch every time the dog barks at the front door.
I originally put this book at 4 stars but my own review has made me revise that to 5 stars.