Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication: 6th October 2015 by Macmillan Publishers
Genre: YA, Fantasy.
ARC provided by Macmillan Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.
This is book is something special. After being on a reading slump for a long time this book turned out to be my medicine – it contained everything that I needed; magic, mystery and lots of kissing. I was up until 1am to finish it, I just couldn’t put it down.
The book was really easy to get into. If you’ve read Rainbow’s book Fangirl you will have already have been introduced to the characters through Cath’s fanfiction of the Simon Snow books by Gemma T. Leisle in her world. That doesn’t mean you have to have read Fangirl to understand this one, as Carry On is a stand alone book written from, and by, Rainbow. In her own words…
After I finished writing Fangirl, I kept thinking about Simon and Baz and the World of Mages … I wanted to write more about them, but I didn’t want to write the full series GTL-style. And I also didn’t want to write through Cath’s hands and brain.
I wanted to explore what I would do with this world and these characters.
So, even though I’m writing a book that was inspired by fictional fanfiction of a fictional series …
… I think what I’m writing now is canon.
The Simon Snow books in Cath’s world resemble the Harry Potter series but they’re not Harry Potter as her world also references Harry Potter by name. In the note at the end Rainbow says she has always loved books about Chosen Ones and that is what this book is, how she would write her own chosen one. Yes, it has a lot of ties to Harry Potter, which may frustrate a lot of people, but it also has a lot of ties to other books with the same idea at it’s core – Where are Frodo’s parent’s or most Disney princess’ parents? There is a prophesy of a Chosen one in Star Wars and an old guy in robes who helps him. The Worst Witch, Mildred, also attends a magical school. These ideas are not unique to just Harry Potter. There are also lots of unique qualities and the book has different themes and focuses.
The story follows Simon, a prophesied powerful saviour, and his friends. He knows his destiny is destroy the evil creature of the world, something he has been doing for years already. He’s expected to do this whilst sharing a room with Baz, his worst enemy and the one most likely to kill him.
I found the book a little slow to begin with. The blurb mentioned his room mate Baz, who was missing and we heard nothing from for the first quarter of the book. It mentioned his girlfriend breaking up with him, which took a very long time. However, when things did get moving, it was gripping. The book was written from different character’s perspectives. I personally loved Baz, finding him the most interesting character, and I really enjoyed his relationship with Simon. I loved that all his feeling were laid out from the beginning. There were some perspectives that I found less interesting, especially Agatha’s.
I thought the magic was interesting – you just have to say a common phrase to cast the spell. These were sometimes songs, book quotes or proverbs eg. Cats got your tongue. Hammer time. Be our guest. It was an interesting take something that commonly occurs in books.
I think what people like about Rowell’s books so much are her characters. She manages to write real characters with situations and emotions the reader can relate to. In this case we have Baz who is “Yes, I’m gay, I’ve known for a long time” while Simon is like “hmmm, excellent question. I’ve never really thought about it”. Their relationship was natural and wasn’t used as a plot twist in any way.
What I liked most about the book is the ending. I loved that I thought I knew who sent the Vampires half way through the book and was all set up to be disappointed that I guessed it so easily. Then BAM it wasn’t what I expected.
So, whatever you’re doing to keep us hooked, Rainbow, Carry On!