Review Blog

May 08 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

cover image

Macmillan, 2014. ISBN 9781447263227.
Moving away from home to University is exciting, but for twins Wren and Cath, whose mother left when they were small and whose manic, highly creative father has relied on them for support there are more challenges. Wren decides she wants to live in separate student accommodation upsetting Cath who immerses herself in writing fan fiction as a coping strategy. Cath's 'canon' is the Simon Snow series of books by Gemma Leslie (Harry Potter analogy). Cath has a huge and growing 'fandom' following online for her stories that push the characters from the Simon Snow books into doing things the original author would never do. When she submits one of her stories for a university assignment she is devastated by accusations of plagiarism. There is of course the inevitable love story, which is very engaging and the resolution of the personal growth of the characters is well done but the most interesting for me was the exploration of the issues of intellectual property, creativity, collaboration, and ethics. Fan fiction is a modern phenomenon where stories are shared freely, remixing favourite fictional worlds.
Cath uses it as a stepping stone to finding her own identity and the writing of truly original fiction but for many it is just a way of extending their enjoyment of a book, and that has to be good. Senior secondary readers would enjoy Fangirl; though it is very American in its setting the themes of love and identity are universal. The cover cartoon illustrations of the characters are great and the book club link on the back has some good content.
Sue Speck

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