Saturday, February 28, 2015

Best Books of February

In February 2015, I read 7 books. Here is a recap of my favorites from the month.

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell

A coming-of-age tale of fanfiction, family and first love. 
Cath is a Simon Snow fan. 
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan... 
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. 
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. 
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. 
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. 
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? 
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? 
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Review: I just want to know if Cath finished her fanfic and if she killed Baz. I know there’s going to be some sort of sequel to Fangirl, but I want to know now. I’m not that patient.

Fangirl is about Cath’s freshman year at college. It’s her first time away from home, her first time living without her twin sister, and the first time that boys are truly interested in her. Cath feels alone and overwhelmed. One thing that connects her to her pre-college life is her obsession with fanfiction and the Simon Snow book series. However, she may be forced to give that up.

This is the best book I’ve read so far this year. The characters and the relationships between them are well-developed and realistic. Cath is the most relatable character that I’ve read in a long time. I think a lot of people can see some part of themselves in her. She’s insecure, awkward, funny, stubborn, determined, and trying to figure out what she wants in life. It’s hard not to root for her.

The dialogue is amazing. There are a few literal LOL moments. I loved the back-and-forth between Cath, Levi, and Reagan. The characters have very distinct personalities that really come out during conversations.

Usually, I have a lot of issues with the romances in YA books. There are way too many abusive relationships that are presented as healthy and normal. This isn’t a problem in Fangirl. I actually like the relationships in this book. Levi is slightly too clingy for my tastes, but he treats women (and everybody else) nicely. He apologizes when he screws up. He’s not overly jealous. He respects his girlfriend’s privacy and doesn’t pressure her into doing anything that she doesn’t want to do. And, best of all, he’s not an airbrushed supermodel. He’s a realistic-looking person. You don’t know how happy this makes me.

I know that a lot of readers criticize Fangirl for misrepresenting the people who are involved in fandoms. I’ve never cared enough about anything to participate in a fandom, and I’ve never written fanfiction. I have no idea if Cath is a realistic fangirl or not. She seems pretty realistic to me.

My criticism is about Cath’s mind-blowing stupidity in her fiction-writing class. She turns in fanfiction for one of her assignments, and then she’s confused when she gets an F. I have a hard time believing that Cath is this stupid. The point of fiction-writing class is to learn how to write fiction. If you’re borrowing another author’s characters, setting, magic system, world building, etc., then you’re missing out on a lot of learning. In fiction class, you’re supposed to come up with these things yourself. Of course the professor is going to get irritated if you use material from another author. “Borrowing” is basically cheating.

Also, Cath knows that she isn’t allowed to make money from her fanfiction, but she seems stunned when the professor calls her work “plagiarism.” Fanfiction is plagiarism. That’s why Cath isn’t allowed to make money from it. She shouldn’t be so shocked to hear somebody call her work what it is. She should also know that universities don’t allow plagiarism.

Other than Cath’s stupidity, I enjoyed this book. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it. Now I’m tempted to start reading fanfiction.

Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli

From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, hallways hum “Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. Until they are not. Leo urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her—normal.

Review: I loved Stargirl as a kid, and I still love it as an adult. I also think it has one of the best covers I've ever seen on a book. It's simple, memorable, and attention-grabbing. Very cool.

The main character, Stargirl, is a little unusual. She cheers for both teams during basketball games, attends the funerals of strangers, brings her pet rat everywhere, and likes to wear costumes. At first, the students at her new high school find her behavior funny, but soon she starts to get on their nerves. Stargirl and her boyfriend, Leo, become social outcasts. Leo has a much harder time coping with this than Stargirl. They can either change themselves in the hopes of making friends, or they can stay outcasts for the rest of high school.

Stargirl fits the manic pixie dream girl trope, and some of her behavior pushes the boundaries of believability, but I think she's actually more realistic than most characters who fit the trope. First, only one boy (Leo) lusts after her, and even he is often unhappy with their relationship. Almost everybody in Stargirl's life finds her insufferably annoying. Like many manic pixie dream girls, she's loud, unpredictable, and embarrassing. In real life, a manic pixie wouldn't be a "dream girl." She'd be irritating, like Stargirl. So, I believe that Stargirl is the most realistic version of the trope I've ever seen.

Every character in this book is slightly cliché, and that doesn't bother me at all. There is so much more to this story than just the characters.

Stargirl gives readers a lot to think about without being too preachy. That's what I love about it. It's about nonconformity and the confidence to be yourself. It's about acceptance, love, kindness, and understanding. Most importantly, it asks the question, What would you give up in order to fit in?

All The Things = 9 books.

I’m currently reading (re-reading actually) = Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood


  1. Yes! Fangirl is my favorite Rainbow Rowell book, and it was sort of the inspiration behind my blog name. Well just the fangirl part lol. I haven't heard of Stargirl, but I definitely want to look into it.

    1. I was trying to decide if I like Fangirl or Eleanor & Park better, but I can’t decide. I really love both of them.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. Fangirl is indeed a great book :D I too became intrigued with fanfiction after reading it. Haha :D

    Cucie @ Cucie reads

    1. Yeah, I’ve never read or written fanfiction, but this book made me very curious.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!