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Fangirl novel

  • Adorkable: What else do you expect from a novel titled Fangirl?
    • Cath is this, entirely. A longtime Simon Snow fan who stashes lots of peanut butter and energy bars because she can't find the dining hall. You fall for her immediately. The manga version’s art style enhances this.
    • Levi also. A barista farm boy at Starbucks who has trouble reading and falls for Cath. He also steals her energy bars.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Cath and Wren’s mother, Laura. Is she a well-meaning woman who Married Too Young, did the best she could with two little girls and a mentally ill husband but ultimately couldn’t handle it, and is now trying to make things right after ten years, but having a hard time figuring out how? Or she a selfish person who can’t handle adult life and motherhood, blamed her problems on her family (Cath mentions that she told them to stay away from college boys when they were under eight years old); and instead of stepping up to the plate, took the easy way out for ten years and is now only talking to them to get rid of any lingering guilt? Her leaving Wren in the hospital implies it’s the latter, but in the end, it’s still ambiguous. When Cath gives her ultimatum to stay in the hospital with Wren or she'll never get a sliver of a chance, Laura dismisses her and says they'll talk later.
      • Even Wren and Cath discuss this during one of their many arguments. Wren claims that Laura is sorry and "feels bad". Cath responds, "Good! She should feel bad!" and points out that one simple apology doesn't make up for being gone for a decade, not answering their calls, or even visiting. It's unclear if Laura is actually sorry, or was saying it to get Wren on her side.
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    • Wren's Jerkass qualities seem to go up in freshman year, including when she insults Simon and Baz to Cath's face or over the phone— something she's never done before— and yells at her twin sister for calmly refusing to go visit Laura at Christmas saying that Cath owes her for their socializing. She only mellows when her dad lays down the line, she finds out Cath had a boyfriend and didn't tell her. How much of it was her acting out as a freshman and unable to handle independence until Art set ground rules? Could Courtney have been a Toxic Friend Influence that got between her and Cath? Did Laura have a hand in her change in attitude after Thanksgiving?
    • Wren doesn't seem too broken-up that her own mother, with whom she had been reconnecting, abandoned her at the hospital after she woke up and let Art administer her punishment. She says that Laura doesn't do "hard stuff," much to Wren's indignation. Did Laura establish with Brutal Honesty that she couldn't be a mom to Wren, who accepted it? Or is it Wren being a Stepford Smiler and picking her battles? She's already in the doghouse with Art, who threatens to pull her out of school unless she goes cold-turkey, and with Cath, because she had to admit that Cath was right that their mother wasn't interested in actually mending their relationship to be a mom.
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    • Wren's alcoholism, and the fact that she claims that she's not "broken" the way that her father and twin sister are, in one of her meanest moments where she claims that they "choose" to be that way. Is she in denial about the fact that Cath points out she's broken too and has cracks in her Miss Cool facade? Or is it more Stepford Smiler issues, that she believes that acting like things are okay will make it okay? It says something that Art retorts that Cath may be the socially anxious twin and a shut-in in Wren's words, but she's maintained her 4.0 GPA and didn't end up in the hospital for alcohol poisoning, making her technically stabler than Wren is.
    • Is Wren’s roommate Courtney a ditzy but good person or a Poisonous Friend to Wren? Wren already had issues with alcohol in high school, but they worsen with Courtney to the point of hospitalization and her father staging an intervention. When that happens, Courtney doesn’t help her in any way, and their relationship becomes increasingly strained after Wren recovers, to the point where they go their separate ways after freshman year.
  • Broken Base:
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    • There is a very big divide on whether or not this book is a good portrayal of fandom. Let's leave it at that.
    • Levi's line implying that Harry Potter exists in this world (since Simon Snow is an expy of that series) does not fly well with some.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • In a more heartwarming sense, Art refusing to let Cath drop out of college over winter break. She's been suffering a Trauma Conga Line of thinking Levi doesn't like her after kissing another girl at a party, Wren has frozen her out, Nick stole her words for his story, and Art ending up in the hospital. He goes to talk to her after she spends the night on the couch, seeing that she's upset about something but isn't ready to say what, and tells her that he's supposed to take care of her, not the other way around. Sure, this was a bad manic episode, and he appreciates that she came to help, but the whole point of her going to college is to get some independence and to figure out her life without him. He says to at least finish the semester, for his sake. It works, and Cath agrees to try.
    • Art doing what Cath wasn't able to do, given he is the parent and she is just the twin sister, by telling off Wren for drinking to the point of needing hospitalization. He gives her an Armor-Piercing Question of What Were You Thinking?, because she was lucky that someone dropped her off and why can't she just stop trying to destroy herself? When Wren doesn't help her case by saying everyone drinks, Art tells her that unless she comes up with a better answer, he's pulling her out of college. Cath asks him to find a compromise, and she and Art get Wren to agree to stop drinking, attend AA sessions, and come home every weekend.
    • Cath politely turning down Nick begging her to approve publication of the "anti-love" story. After the fact that he basically plagiarized from her given she edited it gets glossed over, she doesn't stoop to his level and instead sincerely says that he will get other chances if he believes in himself. When Nick blames her for Professor Piper taking away his internship, her friend group stares daggers at him, and Cath and Reagan lock themselves in their dorm room.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Somewhat with Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. Both books have similar themes of fandom, content creation, and mental health. The rivalry comes from debates about which book was better. These are fairly rare, however, more often than naught readers who liked one book tend to like the other.
  • Friendly Fandoms: With Eliza And Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia due to both books having similar themes. The biggest difference between the two is that Cath is a fanfic writer and Eliza is an artist who ended up making her own fandom.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The Simon Snow books, are a Captain Ersatz series of Harry Potter and Cath's fanfiction is called Carry On, Simon while Rainbow Rowell's is called Carry On. J. K. Rowling has just released a video called "Keep Calm and Keep the Secrets" about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
  • More Popular Spin-Off: While Fangirl is acclaimed and well liked, its spin off Carry On has a wider fan base and even expanded into a trilogy, the only one of Rowell’s books to do so.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Wren texting Cath for a "911" when she meant to text Courtney about a guy she dated. Cath yells at her about it for making her worry. Wren then makes things worse by going out drinking, belittling her sister for not wanting to reconcile with their mother, and eventually drinking so much she ends up in the hospital. Cath's bitterness about their mother ends up vindicated when Laura refuses to stay in the hospital after Wren regains consciousness. Her dad has to threaten to pull Wren out of college to make her go sober.
    • Nick submitting the story he and Cath worked on to Professor Piper, who knows both their writing styles. When Cath reveals that she "helped" Nick, the professor takes away Nick's teaching assistantship. It also means that Cath doesn't want to submit their story to the school's literary magazine after what happened.
    • As an avid fanfic writer, Cath should at the very least be aware of the legal discussions surrounding fanfiction and fanart, especially for a series that isn't in the public domain. Additionally, turning in a piece of fan fiction as a college assignment is seen as a dumb move by many real-life fanfic writers, and her argument that "it's not plagiarism" comes across as incredibly naïve due to the many discussions about the legality of fanfiction.
  • The Woobie:
    • Cath demands that one needs a hug. Abandoned by her mother at age eight and by her sister during freshman year of college and struggling with severe social anxiety (It’s so bad that she can’t even eat in the dining hall alone) she then gets a wake-up call about turning in fanfiction for a creative writing class and is used by her writing partner. No one can blame her for taking refuge in the Simon Snow world, and her fanfiction.
    • Levi. A cute farmer's boy who crushes on Cath and whose previous girlfriend cheated on him, he remains a generous sweetheart. After sending and receiving mixed signals from Cath, it takes months for them to date. He also has a reading disability that affects his schooling.
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