Sew Delicious Book Club – Fangirl

So I’m super excited to read all your thoughts and feelings on Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, which was out first book club book. Before we get into that and start talking spoilers, I thought I’d announce the book for the next month.

Drumroll please….

station 11

I’ve chosen Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s a dystopian fiction novel set in the not too distant future during and after a pandemic has wiped out much of the world’s population and society as we know it collapses. The story focuses on Kirsten, a survivor who travels with a group who try to keep art and music alive in the post-pandemic ravaged world.

Apart from that, I know nothing about it except that it has excellent reviews and has been hugely successful.

Buy it here for Kindle           Buy it here for Audible

I’m really looking forward to reading this, it’s been on my list for about 6 months!

Fangirl Review *spoilers below!*

I must start my review with a caveat – when I chose Fangirl I knew nothing about it and I had never read any other Rainbow Rowell novels. It may seem silly to run a book club with limited knowledge of my choices…but that’s the whole point really because I want to read along with everyone else and have my own organic responses to the story.

So here are my thoughts!

  • Overall, I enjoyed it immensely and devoured it quickly, reading the whole lot in about 3-4 days.
  • For some reason (no idea why!) before I started I thought it was set in the UK and it took me a few chapters to get my head around the Nebraska setting, but once I did I found it a refreshing location. Nice change from the usual Dublin, New York, London settings of typical chick lit.
  • It was much more YA(young adult) than I thought, but this was no problem for me because I read a lot of that genre.
  • I noticed a lot of people disliked the Fan Fiction / Simon & Baz stuff. I enjoyed it as a sideline because I am a long time Harry Potter fan and it interests me to see how others take on those stories and ideas.
  • Further to this, I found the online / fan fiction element really enjoyable as it was current and interesting, especially to me as I can relate to “writing things on the internet” and spending time devoted to that. I can also relate to having an online persona.
  • I found Cath (and Wren to some degree) very hard to like in the first half of the book.
  • I felt the mental health issues element of the story, with their father and to a degree, with them, could have been explored more fully. It was glossed over a bit and probably not given the attention it deserved.
  • I loved Levi, he was by far my fave. He is my latest fictional boyfriend. (He joins an illustrious club presided by Mr Darcy, of course.) I felt like Cath should have shown more interest in him and his life. She was a bit too bound up in herself and her writing.
  • It’s chasteness was kind of irritating at times, I occasionally wanted to shout “OH JUST KISS HIM FOR GOODNESS SAKE!”
  • I saw the Nick / plagiarism story line coming a mile away.
  • I felt there wasn’t much of a resolution to the story, however real life isn’t like that and we know she ended up with Levi, repaired her relationship with Wren and completed an award winning piece of writing for her class. All things considered, the story line gently ties things up over the last few chapters rather than just right at the end.
  • Overall, fun and light hearted but with a bit more depth than a usual college romance story.

Three stars! ***

Sew Delicious book club

Extra Notes:

I’ve never read fan fiction but am quite interested now. Did you know Fifty Shades of Grey is actually Twilight fan fiction?

Due to the huge online response (fan fiction!) towards the Simon & Baz story, Rainbow Rowell has just released a novel called Carry On which is their stand alone story, but her take on it, rather than continuing Cath’s fan fiction version of Carry On.

I am definitely keen to read other Rainbow Rowell novels now, I like her modern style. Her other titles include Attachments, Eleanor & Park and Landline.

Over to you! I’d love to hear what you loved and hated about Fangirl! Comment away and give a star rating!

23 thoughts on “Sew Delicious Book Club – Fangirl

  1. Great thoughts Ros! Here are mine –

    – I am one of those who did not love the fan fiction aspect of the book. I found myself skimming through those extended parts, not really taking in the storyline of Baz and Simon. I just wanted to get to the juicy parts of the story!
    – I too loved the fact it was set in a smaller city/town of America, opposed to big city lights etc. It was a refreshing change. I loved the detail the author gave about their towns and the fact Levi was studying agriculture.
    – The relationship between Reagan and Cath was fabulous. It was so realistic in that it wasn’t all “best friends forever” crap. Also the fact that Reagan was all along trying to set Cath and levi up, but when it happened was realistic in her not feeling so comfortable about it!
    – I felt like I was just hanging on the edge of my seat waiting for Cath and Levi to shag…… I was after some hot and heavy sex scene hahahah. And when i finished the book, I literally sat there and flicked through the following pages wondering “what the?? Is that it?” So I was a little disappointed we didn’t get that part of the story told to us 😉
    – I did however like the way the story was rounded up with the characters. But like you felt the mental illness side story could have been expanded on. I mean, it was clear to me that Cath was following a little in her dad’s footsteps, but was very aware of it, so could have been delved in to a bit more.

    Overall – I really loved it. So much so, I went straight out and borrowed “Landline” and put a hold on “Eleanor and Park”, which is sitting on my bedside table waiting for Landline to finish! I’m looking forward to the next book, and am glad to try some different authors! Thanks Ros!

    1. I’m glad someone else was hopeful for a bit more raunchiness 😀 Hahaha! Yes I liked Reagan and I agree, the usual fictional ideas of BFFs are often unrealistic and she certainly explored some different styles of female relationships. Like Wren & Courtney – started out with the traditional BFF situation then things went sour as the year progressed.

      My sister has a copy of Eleanor & Park so I’m keen to get my hands on it soon – I’ve heard people say it’s RR’s best novel to date.

      Thanks for reading along! xx

  2. I’m so bummed I completely ran out of time to read this one 🙁 I’ve got the Goldfinch to read for my own bookclub at the moment and I’ve heard it’s looooonnnnggg so had better get started although I do like the idea of Station Eleven as this is the type of book I would never choose for myself. I did however read your previous recommendation The Happiness Project and absolutely LOVED it!! I’ve been talking about it to whoever will listen (and whoever I think needs to read it!) It was such an eye-opener and challenged me to reflect on my own sense of happiness and I’ve already started to put a few changes into practice. Thanks again Ros!! 🙂

    1. Nevermind…keep it up your sleeve for a good summer holiday read 🙂

      I felt exactly the same about The Happiness Project – I’ve recommended it to lots of people and have made some changes in my own life that are suggested in the book. I actually just finished sorting my photos and completing my girls’ baby albums and I’m SO GLAD the book pushed me to get those jobs done. It’s given me a tonne of motivation for lots of things. I listen to her podcast quite a bit too, she and her sister have a great conversational style.

      Good luck with The Goldfinch – I’ve heard two general observations about it. Either you’ll LOVE LOVE LOVE it or you’ll struggle with the length of the story. Perhaps try the audiobook? xx

      1. Oh yeah – audiobook is a genius idea! Then I can *read* and sew at the same time haha!!
        Baby albums are still a while away from being finished here but I probably should get on with them at some stage. I also bought two journals last year with the idea of writing the boys a letter every six months to give to them when they’re grown up…haven’t started that yet either! I did buy two big memory boxes from eBay though to store bits and pieces in for them to keep. I feel like its the kind of book I need to read every six months to remind me to reassess. Will definitely check out the podcast, thanks for the tip 😉

  3. Interesting thoughts! I borrowed mine from the local library, and read it within 48 hours of starting – so it certainly caught my interest.
    -It was well written, in that it didn’t drag, although I must admit that the fan fiction parts did not appeal to me, and I could have done without them….
    -I thought the dynamic between the twin sisters was interesting, and I think that it was really good for Cath to be forced to not rely on her sister. I have twin boys, so the twin dynamic is on topic for me.
    – I agree that the mental health aspect could have been explored more – possibly it wasn’t due to the more YA reader target?
    -It was a nice, light, quick read, that held my interest from start to finish –

    I enjoy the dystopian fictional genre a lot, so am looking forward to reading ‘Station Eleven’ when I can get hold of a copy. Thanks Ros

    1. I agree about it being well written and that it didn’t drag at any parts. Interesting about the twin dynamic! Sibling dynamics can be so varied and I guess twins are just the same. I’m a library person too – my reservation of Fangirl came in fast but I’ve been waiting a while for Station 11. If I don’t get it within two weeks I’ll grab the kindle version.

      Thanks for your thoughts Jenny!

  4. Hi Ros, I liked this, I read it pretty quickly and enjoyed it, but to me it’s what I call an “airplane novel” -i.e., good to read on a plane when you don’t have to concentrate too much.

    That said, I felt that most of the characters were quite two dimensional, especially Wren, I just wanted a bit more than just a caricature which is kind of how they read to me. I just wanted a bit more depth.

    Lastly, I enjoyed the fanfic piece and despite my comments am quite keen to read Carry On.

    Looking forward to next month.

  5. I agree with Hayley in that it was a light read. Easy to read and nice enough, but not really much food for thought in it… not that there has to be in every book, but I came away hoping for a bit more. There wasn’t a lot of depth to the characters.

    I didn’t love or hate the fanfic sections, they often paralleled the main story which I liked. I was happy with the idea that Simon Snow was an alternate version of Harry Potter, but when Harry Potter was mentioned later in the book it really irritated me. I don’t see how a fiction series so similar to Harry Potter could exist in real life…plagiarism! I thought it was funny that the professor gave her an F for her story because it took characters from another author when I feel like this is doing the exact same thing. And seeing that RR has written the carry on novel is annoying too. I hope it’s not too similar to Harry Potter, because that seems so unoriginal.

    I felt the introduction of the Mum was trying to be hard hitting, but again didn’t live up to what I was hoping it to be. She could have left that side story out completely and it wouldn’t have taken anything away from the book.

    Overall, an easy read and definitely took me back to being a teenager, but the book isn’t going to change anyone’s life or keep them up at night.

    1. Yes I found the mention of Harry Potter strange too – I assumed Simon Snow was the Harry of that particular universe and I really can’t see them co existing.

      I agree about the introduction of the mother, it added nothing to the story, apart from just being a reason for conflict between Wren & Cath, but there was plenty of other reasons for them to conflict so it didn’t make much difference.

      Definitely not going to change lives but if I read life changing books all the time I’d be exhausted! Haha!

  6. Arrghh! I must take notes immediately after reading next time, and certainly before I dive into another book and start mixing up the characters (Cath didn’t get pregnant and work in a bookshop, did she?!). I wasn’t going to read this book as I thought it would be annoyingly frothy. But then I was relaxing in the sunshine in my backyard and realised that I needed froth to go with it!

    First things first, like Ros and Midge, I was constantly thinking “GET IT ON ALREADY!” whenever she and Levi were together. But I found Levi a bit “wet”. Perhaps I like my male characters to be a little more of a challenge….Darcyesque.

    Unlike Ros and Midge I actually liked the lack of attention to the dad’s (and potentially Cath’s) mental illness, as it was just a normal part of life (as long as he was getting treatment for it, which he was). I suppose an analogy would be if the character had something like diabetes instead – she may still have had to pop home to take care of him when it got bad, but it didn’t need a whole drama of its own – it’s just an everyday illness.

    I agree with Abby that the mum’s reintroduction was superfluous, except I suppose that so much was happening and changing in Cath’s life, and it gave her something “real” to write about in the end. But I found it interesting to read about a woman with little maternal instinct. I liked that it didn’t have a happy ending ie she didn’t fall in love with Wren and become the perfect mother overnight. I kept wondering whether we would read it differently if it was the father who had abandoned them. Ah, the defensive thoughts of a deliberately-barren woman!

    1. The pregnancy/bookshop story line was another book I recommended a couple of weeks ago in my kindle deals list! 🙂

      True about Levi being a bit ‘wet’, but he did provide relief from me as all the other characters were grumpy and unhappy. He was the only character that was easily likeable from the start and provided some much needed positivity.

      I agree about your thoughts on the mother, and I think it certainly would have had a different feel if it was the father who’d abandoned them.

      Thanks for reading along! xx

  7. Hi Ros, I actually read this book last year but read it again for bookclub.

    My first thought when I started was “oh geez, it’s that book with the annoying fanfiction bits in it!” So count me as one of those people that dislike that part of the book.
    But those parts aside, I really enjoyed this book – love love love Levi; he definitely deserves a place on the fictional boyfriends list! Also really liked the Reagan character

    Overall, I did find it to be a very “young” young adult book – honestly, Cath seemed to be like she was more like 15-16 YO then an 18 yr old college freshman, but very glad I read it again, and interested now in reading Rainbow Rowell’s other books, which I remember liking more then this one.

    Looking forward to this month’s book – I’m a sucker for that genre, and thought I read most of them, but this is a new one for me.

    1. Me too – I do love a dystopian novel although I tend to read mainly YA in that genre (The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner series, Divergent series etc)so I’m looking forward to a different take. I recently saw the movie Contagion and it totally freaked me out so I think Station 11 will too!!

      Fangirl was much more of a YA book than I expected, definitely something I’d be happy for my girls to read when they are 14+ years old.

      1. Oh, just assumed Station 11 was a YA book – like you, I’m used to reading that genre of dystopian novels, rather then adult ones. It will def. be interesting to read a different take.

  8. This book was certainly different to what I normally read but once I got into it it kind of remind me of the Sweet 16 books (I thinks that’s what they we’re called so long ago) I use to read as a teen. Like most of you was not really fussed on the fanfiction parts way to similar to Harry Potter but only with a twist. Parts of the book kept you guessing as to whether or not Cath would pull herself together, work out some of her issues and just get it on with Levi. Arh the intensity of melodramatic young teenagers.

    I too gave this book 3 stars!!

    1. I know what you mean about the Sweet 16 style books. I used to read a lot of Sweet Valley High with the twins Elizabeth & Jessica – are they the books you mean?

      Ahh yes melodramatic teenagers…I remember the days! 🙂

  9. So excited that you picked Station 11 for the next month reading. It was recommended to me last summer and although I am generally not super into scifi, the person who was recommending the book to me assured me that this book was very accessible to readers new to the scifi genre. Although I sort of thought of giving it a try, I have not so far and your choice gives me that extra push that I clearly need :).

    Anyway: Fan Girl. I loved reading your view on this book. Here is what I thought:
    – I have to admit that, since you announced to read this book for your book club, I have also read Attachments and Eleanor and Park and that Land line is on my bed table. I found Fan Girl a very easy read: which is a good thing now and then. I also found it a little too much YA to my taste. So: given that Attachments and Land line are sold as ‘adult books’ I decided to also give them a try. And then, I thought, I could as well give Eleonor and Park a try as most people recommend that book (well, apparently I am an a-typical reader. I could not relate to Eleonor (although I loved the end)). Cath felt quite three-dimensional to me (but young; as others have mentioned). I considered Wren quite a flat character and I also felt that the character Levi could have received more attention (besides the ‘he is always smiling’ parts). I did find Levi very sweet, though.
    – I am with Alison on her stance towards the mental health descriptions: I felt it was a very realistic part of their lives this way. I thought the father and the relationship with the father was very real.
    – I am not a big fan of the fan fiction in this book too: I thought it was used too frequent. However, I am not familiar with the fan fiction world so I did appreciate the little insights in how fan fiction might work and how it relates to ‘actual’ books.
    – I liked that the ending was rather vague and not very descriptive. Some open book endings can be nagging, but I didn’t felt this way after reading Fan Girl. I thought that the story lines were enough developed to have a satisfactory feeling of the story in the end.
    – I found it a sweet book. Reading it made me smile. I liked that.

    1. Hi Anne, thanks for all your thoughts! I’m really looking forward to reading more Rainbow Rowell books too, it seems lots of us are interested in more of her writing which is great!

      I agree about the fan fiction – it is a world I don’t know much about although it seems be a huge online community who love it. I guess it’s a way for fans to explore more of their favourite stories and characters and create their own endings or predictions of the future for their favourites.

      “Reading it made me smile” – great summation! Me too 🙂

Leave a Reply