Chick Lit Review #11: Fan Girl by Marla Miniano

I haven’t posted in a while and as always had every intention to do so—except that work, again, got in the way.  But yesterday’s book purchase had me getting my ass up in a quick review since I just had to get out a lot of opinions that instantly burst into my head as I read said book.

The book was Fan Girl by Marla Miniano, published by Summit Books.  I reviewed one of Ms. Miniano’s chick lit novels previously, and I remember liking it a lot, and not just for the author’s technical skill—I appreciated her facility for controlled emotion and scenario, as well as the obvious negation of clichéd and expected characters and plot.  However, these same elements, while still present in the author’s newest project, proved to be the very points that I believe made Fan Girl a disappointment.

Fan Girl introduces the reader to Summer, a twenty-something of ordinary face and means, whose only established strength was her studying and writing skills.  During her freshman year in college, she meets Scott Carlton, bad boy of the local rock ‘n roll scene, with whom she naturally falls in love—being the naïve girl she is, and this being a chick lit story.  And, true to the chick lit formula, she meets another guy—Zac Santos—who is the antithesis of everything Scott is, which is why he can never be Summer’s type.  Then Summer spends the rest of her college life in a non-relationship (read:  as Scott’s doormat) with bad boy, who was shown in the beginning to have been sort of attracted to Summer (sadly, this nuance/element was never explained).  In the end, which is really where the story begins, Summer had to live with Scott going back to the US, getting more than enough luck to become a successful Bruno Mars-type recording artist within six months, and discovering that he had secretly been having a relationship with her mean-girl roommate Roxanne.  Of course, Summer had to do what a girl’s got to do:  she packs her bags and spends her life savings on a trip to LA, just to see Scott.  The ending:  Summer finds that Scott is really, really not in love with her (actually, more like would be glad to spit in her face except that she could help him write lyrics for his new album) and is about to get married to Roxanne, so she decides to go back to Manila and her old life, sees Zac find a girl who would love him, and meets some random dude during some random occasion.

Let me just say that I have never come across a more pathetic character in my entire fiction-reading life.  Oh, sorry—make that the most pathetic character that was not given enough leeway for redemption.  I do understand that some characters were created to represent—being pathetic in a way that’s beyond humanly possible, in this case—but other parts connected to said character should compensate and/or add to the point.  Summer was simply the saddest protagonist ever, and wasn’t written with a compelling background or reason-to-believe, and was never given the chance to achieve anything much in the end.  Her ‘realization’ does not count, since everyone—from the minor characters to the readers themselves—all knew that she was being taken for a ride.  The random guy she met at the end of her story was just not enough; it just clued the reader in to a possibility, which did not meet the harrowing life assigned to Summer.  The only interesting bit of information about this character was a mention of her parents’ cause of death, which was the 1990 earthquake; then again the author failed to expound on this and just left it hanging like an annoying bit of fingernail.  I also wonder at the term ‘fan girl’ as used in the story, since it was really more about unrequited love or something to that degree; fanaticism was force-fitted in the context (which made me remember Chinggay Labrador’s Popped—now that was the correct depiction of being fan girls).  The other characters—Scott, Roxanne, Zac, and Meg—were all half-drawn and shallow, and I had issues with Scott and Roxanne getting away with their evil deeds unscathed.

I read Fan Girl in less than two hours, and to this minute I am thinking what I could have done with that time instead:  I could have given myself a second pedicure, alphabetized my library, or maybe counted the calories in the refrigerator.


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