I didn’t like Eleanor & Park. I didn’t connect with the plot or the characters and I pretty much had to force myself to finish it. I was therefore understandably reluctant about reading Fangirl. Sure, everyone was raving about it, but most people rave about Eleanor & Park, too. In the end, I decided to read it, because the concept was interesting to me, and because someone in the library had to…
For those of you who don’t know, who haven’t guessed from the title, Fangirl is a about a young American girl just starting college who obsessed with the (doubly) fictional ‘Simon Snow’ fandom. With good reason too! Cath has been fully immersed in the fandom for years, and her current slash fanfiction ‘Carry On, Simon’ is a cult-hit with tens of thousands of fans eagerly waiting each new chapter. The novel centres on Cath’s struggle to mix her fandom life with her real life – a difficult mix at the best of times, made more so by a twin who is going off the rails, and the confusing attentions of real boys.
Despite my unwillingness to start this novel, I am really glad that I did. (Evidenced by the fact that I finished in a day!) Maybe it’s because I myself have been a fangirl, maybe Rowell’s writing has improved, or maybe I should give Eleanor & Park another chance, but I really enjoyed Fangirl from the moment I picked it up.
There is something about finding a fandom. A fandom is like a home, for us nerdy folks. A fandom is somewhere you belong, a place that exists where you can share your love for something with others who love it too.
HP fanart by MARTA
For years now, I have ‘belonged’ within the Harry Potter fandom. Harry Potter is a very large part of the reason why my best friend and I ever became friends. It has been something to bond over, something to laugh and cry over. We have read and written fanfiction, ‘awwwww’d and drooled over fanart, and attended the midnight screenings of the last two films.
All of this has cemented our friendship. It has ensured that we always have that special something between us that makes us who we are, that makes us us. Naturally, there are other things now which keep us together. Other pleasures, loves, and hates. Other fandoms, other stories to laugh and cry over. But Harry Potter was the first thing. And we always have it to come back to.
My point has wandered somewhat, but it all comes back to the same thing. I have been contemplating the power of fandoms. The ability of a fandom to share a love of something, to make that thing grow beyond what it originally was. I am talking about fanfiction and fanart, but also about the sharing that exists within a fandom. This has been increasingly emphasised to me through tumblr, where fans blog and reblog the words and images that they love about a particular fandom.
The ability to do this keeps the fandom alive within their minds, and their hearts. The fact is that I never really loved Harry Potter until I was introduced to the Harry Potter fandom. I enjoyed the Harry Potter books. The Harry Potter fandom made me love them.