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.
While reading Fangirl, I found myself falling more in love with the fictional world of Simon Snow than with Cath’s ‘reality’. It threw me back to growing up with Harry Potter and how obsessively I loved that world–so much so that I’d consume fan fictions between book releases.
When I found out Carry On was going to be a real, actual Thing, I was beyond excited. No one has really touched the whole Chosen One/boarding school/wizard plot line since Harry Potter (for good reason) and I couldn’t wait to get into something familiar, and knowing Rowell’s work, unpredictable.
Simon is… cool. I guess. There were moments I liked him but mostly he seemed to be there to showcase the real stars of this book: his best friend, Penny, and his roommate, Baz.
I’ve loved Baz since Fangirl and THANK GOD this book did’t ruin him for me. In this multi-POV story, his chapters were the ones I looked forward to most. He’s so self-assured and cocky and I loved how his and Simon’s relationship progressed (actual heart-throbbing love for those two). Simon was never more interesting than when we was with Baz.
And as much as I loved Baz, I loved Penny even more. She was clever, and tenacious, and while she did get carried away with Simon’s plotting, she also seemed to be the voice of reason whenever it was needed. The platonic relationship between her and Simon was refreshing and something I want to see more of in YA.
Plot pacing and resolution
K. So. This is where things get a little hazy. The basic gist of the story is Simon is the Chosen One and he has to go up against the Insidious Humdrum to prevent the World of Mages losing their Magick.
Firstly, don’t worry, this isn’t some Harry Potter knock-off. As Rowell says herself, she wanted to write something both parodying and complementing the Chosen One story line. And she did that pretty well. The world felt real and fully imagined.
The problem was, the plot kind of meandered. Like, one moment the Humdrum (yeah, don’t even get me started on that title) is this massively dangerous, pressing force, and next, Simon is kind of sulking waiting for his roommate whom he supposedly hates to turn up. Despite being given perfectly normal reasons by Penny as to why Baz chose to skip out on school. Then, they’re off on a hunt for vampires, and suddenly a previously boring character is all-important.
Plus, I can’t be the only one who thought the first part of the book dragged. The wait for Baz to show up wasn’t just frustrating for Simon.
Ha! I just realised how much of a downer that was. Let me assure you though, the zig-zagging back and forth was so worth it. The book exceeded my expectations in the one area I was hoping for: it was FUN! And that made it a seriously enjoyable read.
This was pretty much me from the moment Baz turned up onward:
All wrapped up
The conclusion was a serious highlight. It went in a way I totally didn’t expect but it was like the whole book suddenly all made sense. I loved how Rowell wrapped up all the storylines but didn’t try to make everything perfect. It felt way more real and raw that way. As a reader, I’m totally not down with Simon’s end to the story, but as a writer I totally am.
With such an amazing cast of characters, it would have been too easy to draw this book out into a series, and I’m so glad Rowell didn’t go with that option. It works perfectly as a stand alone even though that meant a few of the characters/storylines not meeting the full potential they could have.
Carry On wasn’t a perfect book but that’s totally okay. The relationships felt so real and consuming they made the book what it is. The plot was fun, the writing was fun, and the characters have stayed with me since that final line.
Now, imma leave this here because I think of it every time I read the title.