Posted in Books

“Fangirl” By Rainbow Rowell

You’ve probably heard of Rainbow Rowell (yes, that is her real name) YA novelist taking the world by storm, even if you haven’t had the pleasure of encountering her writing. She is the author of five novels, but Fangirl is something special. It was published in 2013, and I read it the summer after my freshman year of college. It’s about a young woman named Cath, who goes off to college with her twin sister and has to adjust to major life changes with this new phase of her life.  

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Rowell writes dynamic, fluid characters who don’t conform to archetypes. A good writer can make you love a character, but a great one can make you identify just a bit with each one. Refreshingly, the main focus is on Cath and her sister Wren, not their romantic subplots. Fangirl explores the deep complexity of sisterhood, jealousy, feelings of inferiority, and emotional isolation. Their differences are explored throughout the novel, as we see them starting at the same university and living separately for the first time. The twins experience a lot, and the ways that they grow and change make them better.  

Fangirl emotionally impacted me because parts of the story felt so true to my life. I struggled through my first year of college, and it was reassuring to read about someone similar. Cath didn’t always feel like me, but her experiences felt like mine. Cath has realistic burdens, from troubled relationships with her family to her desire to escape into a fictional world. As in reality, conflicts go unresolved. Not everyone is unscathed, but life goes on. 

Another reason this book is important is the portrayal of mental illness. Cath and her father suffer from different neurosis, and it isn’t simple, because illness isn’t pretty. There is no quick solution to their problems. Importantly, Cath is loved, despite her issues. She still deserves love. That’s crucial, because people think that if they show the part of them that is vulnerable and imperfect, they won’t be seen as worthy of love. Cath learns that opening herself up can be painful, but rewarding.  

Cath will make you laugh and cry in the same paragraph, in the same sentence. I was hesitant to read Fangirl, but I’m so happy I did. I promise, if you pick it up, you will be too. Rainbow Rowell in general is great reading, she has a few books for adult and some YA novels. Eleanor & Park and Carry On are young adult novels. Attachments and Landline are for adult readers. I have read them all, and I can say that they only improve upon rereading. I can definitely recommend all of them for discovering your inner fangirl. If you click on these links, you can purchase Rowell’s books through Amazon, but they are also available wherever books are sold or for loan at your local library.   

Posted in Books, Movies

The Lunar Chronicles Movie?

Cinder and its successors in The Lunar Chronicles have been a breakthrough in the last few years in the world of Young Adult fiction. Dystopian novels have been dominating the genre over the last ten years, but Cinder gives them all a run for their money. The books tackle race, mental illness, physical disabilities and differences, what it is to be human, and the laws of man and alien. A lot of YA books have been getting film adaptions, with varying degrees of success, including the very successful Hunger Games and the flop Divergent movies. Marissa Meyer, series author, has addressed movie rumors by saying that she no longer holds the movie rights, and that there is a script in the works. If done right, a Cinder movie could be a breakthrough for the genre, but casting could make or break the movie.

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For Cinder protagonist Linh Cinder, producers or studios may definitely attempt to white-wash the role. Meyer has specified that Cinder has Asian features or is mixed-race, with dark hair and eyes. But, since she is not outright identified as Asian in the books, it wouldn’t surprise me if they cast a white woman in this role. I have no idea who could play this complicated and nuanced character, but I hope they cast her properly, as a person of color. Her love interest, Kai, is specified as Asian, and must be played by an Asian actor, but that hasn’t stopped LA before.

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All of the protagonists are interesting, complicated and full of life. The role of Scarlet Benoit could go to a lot of actresses, since there are a lot of white redheads out there. If they’re casting for level of fame, the obvious choice is Emma Stone, who could definitely play younger, though I’ve never heard her do an accent. I also like Holland Roden of Teen Wolf fame, or maybe Bella Thorne. Scarlet would be a challenging role, she has a lot of complicated emotional baggage and her life only gets more complicated as the series continues. I don’t have any preferences for Cress, although I think Evanna Lynch could be the right choice. She plays innocent well, and she looks like Cress.

In general, I don’t have a lot of preferences for this movie. I think, if it happens, it will be a big-budget franchise, and there’s a lot at stake. My only real concern is casting characters of color, specifically Winter and Cinder, who are specified as being POC. In terms of the male roles, there isn’t huge room for error. All of the series’ characters are fleshed out, but the female characters are more complex than Hollywood usually goes for. I think that this could be a step in the right direction, assuming no one screws up.