Parents' Guide to

Fangirl, Vol. 1: The Manga

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Rainbow Rowell fans will love revisiting Cath's story.

Fangirl, Vol. 1: The Manga Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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The beloved tribute to fandom and first love works beautifully as a graphic novel, with the black-and-white art capturing Cath's anxiety and loneliness and her devotion to fictional characters. Instead of being indented and in different font, the fanfic in the manga is framed in black, making it stand out to the "real life" proceedings. There are slightly fewer fanfic interludes in the comic, and there's also a tightening of the story and some minor but positive changes of the text. An Emergency Kanye Party filled with artist-specific rapping transforms into an Emergency Dance Party where the visuals of the dancing outweigh the playlist; one off descriptions of "rapey" and "Gimpy" and "socially retarded" are also changed, but those improvements will likely only be picked up by folks who re-read the original before starting the comic. All the main lines and plot points are still present.

The best part of the manga is that it makes Cath's story more accessible to a new generation of teen readers who may not have read the original. It's every bit as poignant and funny and sweet, but with excellent accompanying art that is sure to spark conversation about whether the characters were depicted as readers imagine. Nam has perfectly captured the details of Rowell's characters: Cath's Simon tee-and-jeans wardrobe, Reagan's voluptuous beauty, Levi's widow's peak and Carharrt coat, etc. But it's not just the physical descriptions that are faithful but the personalities and emotional range that come through in the art: Cath's shy, anxious, and private demeanor, Levi's kindness and generosity (the boy meets her at the library twice a week just to accompany her back to her dorm), Reagan's confidence, Wren's edgy adventurousness. The art, like the story, is vivid and memorable, and a wonderful first or re-read.

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