Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

23734628Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Published by St. Martin’s Griffin on October 6, 2015

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary

Pages: 522 Format: Hardcover Source: Library

4/5 Stars

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.

Look! Another wonderful novel from Rainbow Rowell. This woman certainly knows how to bring words together to craft a magical story. Taking the seeds of Simon Snow and Watford School of Magicks from Fangirl, she weaves romance, mystery, and fantasy into another hit: Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow.  Here are the biggest standouts for me:

The Hogwarts Connection

Carry On is steeped in sorcery, saviors, and the threat of world destruction. This story follows so many archetypes that permeate through all of fantasy, dystopias and literature in general but it is very hard to not make comparisons with Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling changed and shaped a generation, Rowell included. I like to view Carry On as a love letter to those tales while still holding it’s own weight.

It was the differences in Watford and Simon Snow’s world that made this book so fascinating. I loved that they didn’t have some uniquely wizard sport but played football like the rest of the world. They have to take cabs and cars to get to Watford. I liked the muddled politics. I appreciated the fact that ghosts didn’t just wander around all the time but appeared during visitings. Not to mention the spells! Nursery rhymes, lyrics, different languages. So cool!

Baz! Baz! Baz!

For the first hundred pages I was worried I wouldn’t like this book but then a certain brooding vampire finally arrived. Oh Tyrannus Basilton Grimm Pitch, how I adore thee! The dark, angry, yet tame vampire with the biggest crush on Simon Snow. Let’s be real here: Baz is the star of this show! His family life and past are so perfectly interwoven into the story. His feelings for Simon, the tension between them, the love-hate aspects of the relationship. Just give it all to me!!!

Onto the other two main characters: Penelope was my second favorite in Carry On. Part Indian, part British, she puts up with all of the crap. She’s willing to break rules and is more understanding and accepting. Plus, Penelope has this buoyant energy that shines through. Simon is lucky to have her. That being said are main character was just kind of there, in his own story, stuck in this precarious position with no idea what he’s doing. The connection between Baz and Simon and their romance carried this story and Simon for me.

Final Thoughts

Overall Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a most enjoyable experience. While I had a hard time getting into it and felt the ending was a bit rushed, it was an amazing read. I definitely want to go back and read this even with its faults so I will whole heartedly be recommending this to a lot of people. Rainbow Rowell does it again!

Favorite Quotes

  1. “I’m not your sidekick,” she likes to say. “I’m your dread companion.”
  2. I’ll never forget my first Watford dinner — my eyes nearly popped out when Cook Pritchard brought out the trays of roast beef. I didn’t care if magic was real at that moment. Because roast beef and Yorkshire pudding are fucking real as rain.
  3. (Just when you think you’re having a scene without Simon, he drops in to remind you that everyone else is a supporting character in his catastrophe.)
  4. “Maybe he evolved,” Priya said from the bathroom doorway, “like a Pokémon.”
  5. I see what he’s doing — this is how my dad is going to keep me safe from the Humdrum. By hiding me in Ohio.
Have you read Carry On by Rainbow Rowell? Are you a Baz fanatic like me? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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