Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: October 6, 2015
Genre: YA Fantasy
Length: 528 pages
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, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.
That’s basically how I feel whenever I talk about this book. Just, !!!!
I always love it when authors write about fictional books in their books that their characters love – and I’ve always wanted those fictional books to be real books, so that I could read them and understand why the characters loved them so much. This most notably happened when I read The Fault In Our Stars by John Green for the first time – I spent ages searching for An Imperial Affliction online before I was forced to come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t a real book. I immediately wanted John Green to write it, and make it real.
I didn’t necessarily feel this same urgency after reading Fangirl (for those of you who don’t know: Fangirl is the book in which the world of Simon Snow first appears – Fangirl’s MC writes Simon Snow fanfiction) but I became unbelievably excited when I found out that Rainbow Rowell had made that world a (fictional) reality.
I actually borrowed it from Makayla @ Invisible Reads, who is my favorite thing ever, and read it at the airport + hotel whilst travelling – I finished it in less than 24 hours, and oh my GOD was I in love. I’m going to hurry up and get into the more technical review of this book before I just end up blabbering about how much I loved it.
Carry On’s packaging is just as adorable as it is for the rest of Rainbow Rowell’s books – I know there’s another version of it, too (its original version), but I personally prefer the one shown in the featured picture more. I also really loved how the cover hints at the LGBTQIA+ relationship featured in this book!
I’m not going to lie – because I’ve come to associate Rainbow Rowell so closely with contemporary, I was a bit apprehensive about her writing a fantasy novel. I just wasn’t sure how it was going to work out, but it honestly worked so well. Rainbow was able to prove that her unique voice is not restricted by any genre, and incorporated the best of her writing style in this book – such as her vibrant characters and her wonderful dialogue.
Because the world of Simon Snow was first created by Rainbow in Fangirl to act as her characters’ version of our Harry Potter, this book definitely initially reads as a heavy Harry Potter fanfiction. However, through the world-building in the beginning of this book, we soon begin to see the ways in which the world of Simon Snow deviates from the world of Harry Potter – and by the end of the book, it’s so easy t0 separate the two because of all the unique aspects Rainbow incorporated. I was so pleasantly surprised by all the thought Rainbow put into creating the world of Simon Snow – from the way that magic works to the way that it is passed on to the spells themselves (which could be absolutely hilarious, by the way), the world-building was genuinely so well done from something that you know was initially meant to be a Harry Potter fanfiction.
The writing does seem to grow a bit silly at times – from some of the magical creatures’ names (Numpties) to the names of the primary villain (the Insidious Humdrum), but it doesn’t make the read seem nearly as immature as I would expect??? Honestly, everything was just done SO WELL.
The characters !!! I adored the way the characters in this book were written. At first, like this book’s world itself, some of the characters seem to be cookie cutter models of characters from the Harry Potter books – however, this isn’t the case at all. These characters are all so wonderfully unique and well written and vibrant, as Rainbow Rowell’s characters usually are. I can honestly say that these characters are so three-dimensional, and that nothing is at all what it seems.
At the beginning of this book, I thought that Simon and Baz had the classic Harry and Draco relationship going on, as featured in the Harry Potter books – but nope, Aleister Crowley (subtle Carry On ref), nope. <Spoiler> Simon and Baz are so in love, and I couldn’t be more pleased about it </spoiler>. Like I said before, nothing is the way you might initially expect it to be – although those who have read Fangirl know that Simon and Baz are a popular pairing, certain things didn’t happen at all like I expected them to.
I really liked Simon, loved Penny, and really liked Baz – but I loved reading about the three of them together. I just thought they came to share the most unexpected, but hilarious and solid, friendship.
Like most people, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Agatha, but I didn’t hate her – not at all. I think that, in the end, I understood her, and I think it was important for a character like her to be written about.
The multiple POVs in this book were honestly really important, too, and I’m really glad that Carry On was written the way it was. None of the POVs struck me as unnecessary, but instead were vital to telling the whole story.
Carry On isn’t a book that I would describe as having a singular, main plotline – there are multiple plotlines that take place throughout this book for the sake of this book, as well as one central plot that is always on the back of our minds – aka, will Simon manage to defeat the Insidious Humdrum?
The romance also played a pretty big part in Carry On – <spoiler, but you can read this spoiler if you’ve already read Fangirl> Baz and Simon becoming a couple is something that constantly lingered on the back of my mind, as I had read Fangirl and suspected that it would happen (the cover art just encouraged my suspicion), but I didn’t know it would happen the way it did. </spoiler>. I just love reading about LGBTQIA+ couples in general, and I think that the romance in this book was really well done.
Carry On is filled with twists and turns that I really didn’t see coming – I think that Rainbow anticipated that readers would expect Carry On to read like a Harry Potter fanfiction all the way, complete with Harry Potter’s characterization and main plotline, and really utilized that to incorporate plot twists that went against our expectations and were genuinely surprising.
I personally loved the major plot twist in this book, and the way that Carry On ended – it’s all really bittersweet, but was so unexpected and so perfect. I love it when I’m genuinely surprised by the direction a book ends up taking, because I’m usually able to guess how things will end. Things still ended up making so much sense, though, and I was just really satisfied. I’m trying to be as vague as possible because I don’t want to risk spoiling ANYTHING for anyone who hasn’t read Carry On yet – I want everyone to be able to have the same experience with the plot twists as I did.
I honestly just loved Rainbow’s take on the Chosen One story – I’ve honestly never read anything like this, and it just made things even more satisfying for me.
I am so in love with this book. Carry On is definitely my favorite Rainbow Rowell book so far – I just loved so much about this, and it was completely unexpected in almost every way. I’m really hoping for a sequel here, because I want more from the world of Simon and Baz and Penny – Carry On’s ending was just so bittersweet, and there’s just so much that I still want to happen.
Above almost all else, Carry On really opened the door for me desperately wanting authors to write the books that they wrote about their characters enjoying in their other books – I really want Morgan Matson to pull a Rainbow with A Murder of Crows, HAHAH.