“Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl

Fangirl is the story of eighteen-year-old Cather Avery, a freshman in college who is a popular fanfiction author on the Internet. She bases her fanfiction off of the fictional Simon Snow series (think Harry Potter) and is completely obsessed with Simon’s fantasy world. When Cath gets to college with her twin sister Wren, she has a hard time leaving her fantasy world for the real world. Cath is very socially awkward and has a hard time making friends, and feels her sister drifting apart as Wren starts going out to parties and meets new people. Cath’s junior roommate Reagan and her on-and-off boyfriend Levi slowly start to help her come out of her shell as they help her navigate college. Back home, her father struggles with living by himself because he is mentally unstable, and without Cath and Wren to take care of him, he eventually is admitted into a hospital. Even worse, her fiction writing professor claims that Cath is plagiarizing her beloved Simon Snow series when she writes her fanfiction, which crushes Cath’s confidence as a writer. With the help of her friends, family, and fanfiction she begins to find her true self as both a writer and a person.

Cath’s socially awkward nature and her fanfiction-obsessed lifestyle can be relatable to many teens. Many of her thoughts and actions are common to socially awkward teens, such as not wanting to meet new people or being afraid to go to new places alone. Rowell develops Cath as a character throughout the novel as Cath starts facing problems found in the real world while simultaneously slowly leaving her fantasy world. In between chapters, Rowell adds a unique element by adding excerpts from Cath’s fanfiction, Carry On, Simon, or an excerpt from one of the fictional Simon Snow books as chapter dividers to help the reader learn more about the fantasy world of Simon Snow. A main theme of the novel is the difficulty of transitioning from being a teenager to an adult, which Rowell integrates smoothly with realistic family and life problems, such as Cath’s absent mother’s suddenly reappearing in her life. By the end of the novel, Cath finds a balance between her fantasy world and the real world instead of giving up on fanfiction forever, which makes Cath seem like a more realistic character. Fans of Rowell’s other popular novel, Eleanor & Park, will certainly enjoy Fangirl; Cath and Eleanor have very similar shy, bookish personalities. Those not already familiar with Rowell’s work should check out Fangirl if they are looking for an engaging read.

-Check out this book or put it on hold.

-Caylee P.

“Imaginary Girls” by Nova Ren Suma

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Everything changed the night fourteen-year-old Chloe found London’s dead body floating in a boat in the reservoir. Until that night, Chloe’s universe orbited around the sun that was her magical older sister, Ruby. London’s death made Chloe worry about meeting a similar fate if she continued along her current path. So Chloe moved away to live a normal life with her father.

Two years later, Ruby comes to find her, to invite her back to their hometown and start over again. When Chloe comes back, Ruby is just as magnetic as ever. Chloe soon loses herself in the magical world Ruby creates where men make themselves her slaves, drowned ghosts lurk in the reservoir and London never died. Chloe struggles to understand how her sister performed this miracle but the deeper she digs, the more confused she becomes. Can Chloe and Ruby exist in this bizarre world forever — or will Ruby’s magical creation start coming apart at the seams?

This story has a strong literary voice, a haunting setting and a page-turning plot that will keep readers guessing until the last page. The relationship between the two sisters is unique and well-drawn. My favorite part of the book is its magical realism tone: it is neither paranormal nor realistic, skillfully walking a fine line between the two. This story would especially appeal to fans of psychological horror movies and video games, for its sustained creepy atmosphere and imagery.

Check out this book or put it on hold.

–Amanda Coppedge Bosky