Monday, September 8, 2014

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I'm sorry to rain on the Rainbow Rowell parade, but this book really just did not do it for me. I liked Eleanor and Park decently well (though I wasn't foaming at the mouth with delight the way a lot of people seemed to be), and there were things I liked about Fangirl (as someone who used to write lengthy Harry Potter fanfiction, I loved the premise of this!), but ultimately I just could not get past some of the problems with this book.

First and foremost, I found the Simon and Baz story excruciatingly dull and honestly kind of a bizarre choice on the author's part. It's obvious that Simon and Baz are basically Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy stand-ins. I used to spend way too much time on Fanfiction.net, and have certainly read my fair share of Harry/Draco "slasher" stories. It seems really obvious to me that the Rainbow Rowell WANTED this to be about a Harry Potter fanfic, but her legal team said no. So rather than thinking up something original, she came up with Simon and Baz, wizards living in a witchcraft and wizardry school, who hate each other, and are fighting an evil dark lord. SOUND FAMILIAR????

So that was really odd and made me feel a bit uncomfortable. It kind of felt like Rowell was borrowing from JK Rowling in a strange and not fully authentic way--like I would have honestly felt better about it if the story was just blatantly about Harry Potter rather than about ANOTHER blockbuster book about teenage wizards that totally isn't Harry Potter at all!!!!! Even weirder was the fact that Harry Potter (the REAL Harry Potter) is actually referenced in the book, so it's not like Rowell is even trying to create some alternate universe where HP never happened and Simon Snow is all there is. So, so weird... did not work for me.

I found the endless Simon & Baz excerpts really boring. It reached a point where I skipped them entirely. I got the point that the Simon & Baz stuff was kind of a metaphor for whatever Cath was going through at a given time in the story, that she WAS using her own life to inspire her writing, just like her teacher asked her to do, etc. I got that. But I still found it really boring and clunky. I just didn't care about Simon & Baz at all. If this had been an actual Harry Potter fanfic it would have been SO MUCH BETTER. 

Other than that, the romance between Cath and Levi was kind of underwhelming. I got tired of hearing about how wonderful Levi's smile was and how flat his face was and blah blah...I don't know, I just didnt' really feel it. He never really emerged as a real person to me. Honestly I was most intrigued by Cath's sister Wren, and by her friend Reagan. Those characters I would have loved to hear more about. 

2.5 stars

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