Good in theory but fails to stick the landing.
I love Rainbow Rowell. I know that’s a bit of a controversial statement, as Rowell has had some issues with Park’s portrayal in Eleanor & Park, which is one of my favorite books. I understand that it is a problem, I recognize that, and I have been trying to shift some of my focus to reading more books by and about Korean and other Asian cultures.
A big part of that for me is that I got into Manga in a big way. Like, annoyingly huge. I read one volume of My Hero Academia and was hooked.
So, Rainbow Rowell + Manga = Great! Right?
Here’s the thing, I love Fangirl. It is such a love letter to those who write fan fiction and to those involved in fandoms. I read that back in college when I was really starting to accept who I was, a big freaking nerd.
When this was announced, I was so excited. The cover is absolutely GORGEOUS. It was something I didn’t know I had been waiting for and I needed it. Luckily, NetGalley was able to fix me up with a digital copy for me to review (Sorry it’s over a week late). I tore into it.
Fangirl focuses on Cath. She’s has an identical twin named Wren and they are going to the same college! How fun! The problem is, Wren is taking a very different path than Cath. Wren wants to go out and drink and make friends, Cath wants to stay in her dorm and write fan fiction for her favorite book series Simon Snow (think Harry Potter). Cath is in the process of writing her version of what the 8th and final book in the series will be. Her roommate, Reagan, is feisty and, while a little rude, takes Cath under her wing and helps her through her first semester.
Levi is Reagan’s boyfriend (?) who is tall, blonde, and always smells like coffee. He’s nice, funny, and “has a smile for everyone.” He, like Reagan, tries to help Cath break out of her shell. He’s also really cute.
A few things right off the bat: It is definitely a Shojo manga, something that I was not used to as I read a lot of Shonen. The art style of Shojo is much softer than Shonen which is evident from the first page. It’s not a bad thing. I thought the art was beautifully done.
When you bill something as a Manga, you kind of expect it to be read a certain way (right to left). As I had a digital copy, I couldn’t use the book as a guide (starting from the back, reading to the front). The first few pages could have been read R-L or L-R. I was EXTREMELY confused starting out. It IS supposed to be read left to right like an Western book. So why bill this as a Manga? It’s a graphic novel drawn in the Shojo style. That’s all. I dunno, I’m not a book publisher.
The adaptation itself was excellently done. Granted it’s been a few years since I read Fangirl, but it did fit in pretty well with my memories of it. The dialogue was excellent. The narration was very well done and captured Cath’s style perfectly.
It was going all well and good, until it just stopped. It was like “Okay, the end, see you in book 2 of 4!” What?! This is a four volume series? How are they going to stretch this out to four books? They were already at the halfway point!
Ultimately, I was underwhelmed by this book. If you are a fan of Rowell, definitely pick it up, but Pumpkinheads this is not. I’m giving this a 7/10 or 3/5 for Goodreads sake.
Thanks again, Netgalley!
Book image from Goodreads