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Reading is Therapy

I choose to read books instead of watching TV.

Currently reading

The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind
Gustave Le Bon
Les Deux Tours (Le Seigneur des Anneaux, #2)
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Quran


Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell 2,5 stars out of 5. (3 stars on GR because of some good lines in this book got me)

I love Rainbow's writing style, story lines, scenery and the general ambiance of her books. I love the freshness and lightness of it. It’s colorful, sparkly almost. I also like her characters because they’re not scroungy or overdone (like the one we see in NA). But even if all of what I like about her style and writing was in this book, I didn’t like the book itself that much.

Characters :
I like how different they are, each with their personality and quirks. But expect for Reagan, I didn’t care much about them all.

The main character : Cath. It was hard to root for her.
The only good point that I saw to her is that she isn’t stupid. Everything else about her and her fan fiction obsession rubbed me the wrong way. . She is narrow minded and judgmental. She is socially awkward because of a supposed social anxiety (Rainbow didn’t go into details so I won’t either), hyper-sensitive, withdrawn, whinny. She isn't "strong". She is rigid, stern, strained. What I hated the most about her is that she is surly to the people that actually care about her and the ones who won't bite back (levi, her absent mother, abel ...) WHILE being diffident in front of the ones who actually give her a hard time (Nick).

Wren, i liked better.
The twin sister was totally a different person and I’d have liked to see more of her evolution in parallel to Cath’s one (if there's any...). But the author choose to cast her away before even starting the story and to only show her the time she got a bit too drunk just to emphasize on how we should root for plain-dormworm-Cath. *rolls eyes*

First half of the book : It felt like nothing was happening.
We saw people, what they liked or not, how they talked but it was going nowhere. It felt very empty to me. I still liked the dialogue and introspection of Cath, but 200 pages of it (50 freaking %) was a bit long (even though because of the style of Rainbow, it was a fast and easy read : I didn’t struggle to read it and I wasn’t even bored, I just left like nothing consistent was happening).
The author should have developed more the aspect of being a freshman in Uni with awkward scenes, meeting people (and not just the one in your room), amount of work, weird parties, lack of money, pressure to become a whole new person. All of that was missing.

On Cath’s college experience : Issues are relatable, outcomes aren't.
What annoyed me is that Cath is relatable to us social awkward peeps, we all had/have the same issues/obstacles in first year of college and some of our intern dialogues were absolutely on cue when Rainbow wrote them in Cath’s voice.
But the thing is, everything went really easy (TOO EASY) for Cath. She literally did the same misanthropy things as me (not talking to the people at her dorm, eating alone,…) but somehow things plays out so well for her : Reagan INSISTS to hang out with her, Levi becomes her BOYFRIEND, professor wants to help her PERSONALLY… Really Rainbow? Really? The first time one of my professors talked to me, I was in third year, with 50 other students and all he said was that we were a bunch of worthless piece of shit.
Also, whatever I faced (classes were hard, dad was sick, my online writing took a lot of my time – yeah, told you Cath’s experience was relatable), I faced it frontally and with my head high, not being a weak brat running home, not even once considering ditching my scholarship or turning down a teacher repeatedly.

In a sentence : Cath is someone i could relate to regarding our experiences (obstacles and our reactions in the beginning) to but it was impossible to connect with her because of her attitude/the way she handled things (alternatively pompous or downer) and how things played out for her (real smooth).

Second half : Too much drama, bits of romance.
Things starts to pick up finally (meaning that stuff happens, not that it’s suddenly hella interesting), especially on the romantic side of the story.
Levi and Cath get together. In Eleanor and Park I was gushing over every lovey dovey scene, but here, except for a few good lines (“are you rooting for me?”) it felt awkward like witnessing PDA and I couldn’t fangirl over them. Why is that? Because I didn’t get why Levi liked her so much. The first 4 months, she was rude to him (apparently that’s the way to go to get perfect boyfriends nowadays) but somehow he started to “liked her a lot” and I don’t see why. If she hadn’t been so rude and cold to him, maybe I would have bought their romance. Reagan was rude too but at least she was spunky! (Reagan is my Queen, I loved her!!) Cath is rude and just austere.
Their relationship was especially weird because out of all the girls on the campus, he fell in love with his ex girlfriend/current best friend’s roommate. The hell?
Also all we know about Cath’s opinion on her boyfriend is that he has hair. We didn’t get the feeling that she loved him, it was more like she loved the new experiences and feelings he brought to her because he is different from what she knows.
Levi’s totally another story : he likes her. A lot. He loves her. He’s mad about her. To the point where it’s not even cute anymore. And it seems like it's all in his head, it has a fantasized image of Cath and he builds up all these feelings around it. He is too nice, so protective, total gentleman. He’s sorry for the weather, he fights to carry her laundry, he checks on her constantly. It’s overdone. I didn’t cringe but I definitely sighed and rolled my eyes.

The problem in the second part of the book is that there is too much drama, and an unnecessary one that is. Cath’s writing partner, Nick, try to steal her work. Wren has a drinking problem, father is hospitalized, mother comes back out of nowhere. This is not even everything but this is what I thought was unnecessary.
The focus could have been more on Cath overcoming her social anxiety since she had now Reagan and Levi at her side, or dealing with the pressure of work at uni when all you care about is your internet social life because it's a gratification, getting to know the good and bad sides of Uni. Those are issues and not drama and I would have loved to read about them.

Too much was going on in this book but Rainbow couldn’t handle it so she picked out a bit of everything, displayed them, and left it at that. I understand that life plays on different levels and sometimes there is just too much going on but for the sake of this book, it would have been better to stay focused on just some part of the story line (adaptation to school, sisters drifting apart and most important of all : CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT) rather than going superficially on so many different problems.

The whole fandom thing and impact on Cath (which rank at second most important thing in this book after the “first year at college” experience) were, again, not well portrayed/addressed.

First of all : My view on fan fiction : "Why not?"
I read it sometimes when I’m waiting for new material of my favorite shows/books or when I’m not ready to be done with a show/book. I use it as a transition, and I don't obsess over it, nor i follow a specific fanfic waiting for the next chapter. All of that means that I wasn’t grossed out about the fan fiction world itself.
But it still annoyed me because Cath crossed the line between fangirling and pathological obsession. Her love for the fictional world was not cute or funny or understandable because she is living for Simon Snow. She isn’t a cute fangirl, she is a pathetic no-life. I don't find it healthy when people escape in another world, it is irrational and weak when it's start taking over real life and responsibilities.

I wish Rainbow would have spent time writing about Cath’s interaction with the fandom (and how really it can take over your life) instead of actually writing fan fiction over a fictive series herself.
Fandom is a big thing, especially when you are some sort of a leader in the fandom, and it’s something time consuming and it would have been awesome to read about it (being part of a crazy community, receiving loads of notifications, hate, love, support, attention, producing content of your own…) but Rainbow chose to throw at us pieces of Simon Snow’s excerpts and to let us figure the shit out.

What I don’t like also is that this fandom thing is what makes Cath “isolated” from others because she uses it as a way to disappear from the world. And it’s legitimated because she has social anxiety. But I think that the whole thing was looked at from the wrong point of view. The realistic outcome should have been to see Cath coming from an place where she was left out (like high school for instance) to a place where she could expend herself over the real world (in Uni, where there are so many new people with different mind sets). Because snow and her fan fiction are so popular, and because everyone is very receptive to it 1)Cath should have made a lot of friends at her campus and 2)Cath should have felt empowered by knowing that her fic gets thousand of likes. Why does she feels it makes her even more ostracized? As if she was the only one in the world/Uni to understand the fandom thing…

And if she feels like fan fiction is such an ostracizing thing, why does she give it away as a paper to her professor? Who would actually do that? Most of the people live their fantasy in their own head, they might write about it, and even share it anonymously. They might talk to it to their best friends, but who the fuck would hand it over to their college professor?

Rainbow made everyone around Cath very receptive to the Gay fan fiction. That irks me too, not that I’m against it in any way, but when I talk about gay fan fiction, people are weirded out by it. NO ONE EVER told me “yeah that’s cool, I read it too/would love to read some”. They’re more like “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?”

Now about Cath’s realization that she should rationalized her love for Snow, which is in fact the excipit of the whole story. I could write about it but I’ll just say it as it appeared to me : Cath basically decided that “she isn’t going to be like that anymore” and she’s over it, just like that. That was lame.. This whole book makes no sense. What’s more is that we don’t even get to see her growth. We know that Levi, Reagan, Wren are all holding her hands so that she’ll be okay but that doesn’t tell us anything about Cath’s own development. People are here for her, but what is she doing for herself?

I look at others review (the ones giving 5 stars) and most of them are as inconsistent as the book. 2 things stick out : “omg fandom! I love it.” and “Levi is so cute” and that’s basically what Rainbow was aiming for : to get the attention of fandom addicted girls and in contre-partie she treats them with a sweet book-boyfriend. I understand that authors want their books to be liked/loved but it doesn’t justify bullshitting the readers.

Basically it’s refreshing but poorly handled. I wasn’t captivated by it like I was with Eleanor and Park.
-Cather is "uptight, tense, mildly misanthropic" as she described herself .
-The reality of college experience was lacking
-The romance was pushed down our throat
-The fandom theme wasn't developed enough while the Simon Snow fanfic took over Cath’s life, the book, and Rainbow’s writing which wasn’t a good thing (i skipped through some "out-loud" reading session of the fanfic).
-Too much going on with too little addressed.