Book Review | Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Format: Hardcover

Pages: 522

Source: Library

Goodreads

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.

REVIEW

I was interested to read Carry On after finishing Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell earlier this year. Carry On is a fantasy novel featuring the character Simon Snow, and was introduced to readers in Fangirl. Simon Snow is the Harry Potter of in the Fangirl world, and Rowell decided to write her own take on Simon in Carry On. Confused? It’s okay – I was a bit, too. Carry On is basically a Harry Potter satire with its own twist on the magical world.

As someone who grew up with Harry, Carry On was almost insulting to me. It felt like Rowell was using Carry On to rewrite everything she didn’t like about Harry Potter. For example, the students in Simon Snow’s world don’t have servants to bring them food, like Harry does at Hogwarts. Similarly, Simon Snow’s world uses Muggle technology, and mixes with the normal world a great deal. I struggled to get into Carry On for the first 260 pages, but it was due to the Harry parallels. If you’ve never read Harry Potter, or if it’s not a big part of your life, you will probably have a much easier time reading Carry On.

That being said, once a particular scene occurs, I really started to enjoy the book much more. The story was a lot of fun, and I began to enjoy the characters of Simon and Baz. Rowell does a great job in all of her books of creating unique characters that are very intriguing. That is true in Carry On. I also really enjoyed the adventure that takes place within the story, and how intricately woven the plot is.

Moreover, there are a lot of things about Carry On I really did not like. First, the writing style is very experimental, and I felt like it didn’t work at times. For instance, the novel is written in a multiple-perspective format. I did find it cool that Rowell could jump into the mind of any character, but I think the book would be much stronger if she stuck with a few point-of-views. Readers mainly follow Simon, Baz, Penelope, and Agatha, but every once in a while we hear from the Mage (aka Dumbledore) and other minor characters as well. I would have much preferred the book to focus on a few POVs instead of the many represented.

In the same way, I noticed that for the majority of the book the POV changes only when the chapter changes. However, as the book came to a close, the POV began to change in-chapter. I didn’t understand why this format changed so late in the story. While it’s not a big deal, it did disrupt the uniformity of the writing, and detracted from my enjoyment a bit. I also didn’t understand why Carry On was separated into separate books within one larger novel, when each was following the same overall plot line.

Another issue I had with Carry On is the ending. The book is very well-developed and drawn out until the ending, where Rowell provides the reader with a huge info-dump. The big mystery is ‘resolved’ in a single conversation, and Simon is able to figure out the solution to his problem without explaining it at all to the reader. I found this quite disappointing, and was left trying to put together the pieces. I now understand why some people read this book several times over – one needs to, to understand all that happens!

All of the critiques aside, I recommend Carry On if you enjoyed Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I think that I will one day give Carry On another chance, because I do really enjoy Simon and Baz, and I thought the idea behind the story was a lot of fun. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, go in with an open mind and try not to let Rowell’s commentary on Harry bother you. I enjoyed it much more once I got over those parallels!

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