Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Published October 6th 2015 by St. Martin’s Griffin.
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. (Goodreads)
I was extremely excited to hear that Rainbow Rowell was working on another book. She instantly became my favorite author after reading Eleanor & Park. Although Carry On did not live up to my expectations, Rowell will remain an auto buy author. You win some, you lose some.
The idea for this story began when Rowell wrote Fangirl. In Fangirl the female protagonist, Cath is in love with a fictional character named Simon Snow. She and her twin sister Wren hang out in Simon Snow forums, write Simon Snow fan fiction, and dress up like the characters for every movie premiere. Wren starts outgrowing the fandom but Cath can’t let it go. Rainbow admits she wasn’t able to let go of Simon’s character after writing Fangirl so did her own version of his story. Hence Carry On. When I first heard about Carry On I was super hesitant because I am the first to admit the fan fiction parts in Fangirl were not my favorite. Just knowing Cath wrote fan fiction was enough for me, but because I didn’t enjoy that bit I rated the overall story 4 stars. As hesitant as I was I knew I loved Rowell’s writing and that she would make it entertaining at the very least. There were definitely entertaining parts. The romance was what kept me reading. Everyone knew there was going to be romance, but it was vague who the romance was between. There’s a small cast of characters to choose from and I think the obvious choice is made, but it’s one not written about much in YA. Simon Snow falls in love with Baz (hint – they’re both male characters).
I loved that Baz wasn’t in the story right from the beginning. I enjoyed the wait. I knew he would make a grand entrance. Baz fairly early on lets on that he is in love with Simon, but Simon seems to have absolutely no clue and I spent much of the book mentally shoving Baz at Simon. What happens in Carry On is written so much better than I imagined. So the romance gets an A+ from me. The rest of the story mimics Harry Potter. Simon is the Chosen One, the trio is trying to figure out what is going on, defeat the bad guy, etc. It’s definitely not a parallel story there are huge differences. The writing was definitely not as smooth as in her previous books. The decision to include UK jargon and spelling was confusing and unneeded. There were many pop cultural references, but I think instead of helping the story it a.) dates it, and b.) comes off as lazy. One example of this is a dining room looking like the set of Downton Abbey. I’ve never seen the show so that description, or lack of description, was completely lost on me. The antagonist isn’t really explained well. The mage seems corrupt, the Hundrum doesn’t make sense, and the spells were just silly. People die and I just shrugged my shoulders. While I am impressed with the way everything was tied up at the end it definitely didn’t feel like a proper ending. What started out as a great story turned into a complete mess somehow. I rated Carry On by Rainbow Rowell 3 sad little stars.