Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy
Synopsis: 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.
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You’d think this book was the best thing since Nutella was first introduced to this undeserving world, what with the amount of hype around it. I read Fangirl last year and I loved it. I thought it was very relatable and part of that had to do with the Harry-Potter-aspect of it. Now, I know a lot of people say that Simon Snow is not Harry Potter, since both existed in the Fangirl universe. But the fact that they both existed was one of the things that bothered me most about Fangirl.
Simon Snow. Seven books. The Chosen One. A magical school. A global phenomenon.
Harry Potter. Seven books. The Chosen One. A magical school. A global phenomenon.
I don’t buy that Simon Snow and Harry Potter are two different things, so when I was first put off by the book, it was because I didn’t want to read a Harry Potter rehash, even though Rainbow’s a fantastic author. But after several people insisting that this wasn’t what I thought it was, I decided to give it a go. And while I enjoyed it, there was something off. And that something was… it was basically… a Harry Potter rehash…
I think what bothers me the most about this book is the fantasy. It wasn’t… good. I’m sorry. There was virtually no world-building, and the some that existed was all over the place. There was a lot of info dumping going on since this book works as the ‘seventh installment’ in the Simon Snow series. If you jump into a series at the seventh book, you’re bound to be confused. And Rowell tried her best to not confuse her readers, but it didn’t work for me. The world didn’t feel cohesive to me. The fantasy wasn’t balanced. What the fuck was up with the Big Bad? I don’t know what went down. There was so much going on – ghosts, vampires, numpties (I don’t even know what these things are), sorcerers, psychology, goats… I don’t know. It felt a little all over the place.
But despite that, this book was fast-paced beyond compare. It moved at a tremendous pace, and I was never bored. It was addictive, and I read it in two days, and it was enjoyable. So if you’re looking for pure entertainment, this is good.
I’m a big fan of Rainbow’s characters. And although I think the characterization in this wasn’t up to par with the characterization in her other novels, it was still good. But maybe that’s just me, because as a human being who has Harry Potter on her mind all the fucking time, I couldn’t HELP but compare. A brave, slightly stupid protagonist, check. A smart, slightly bossy best friend, check. An eccentric, power-driven mentor, check. And a rich, snivelling rival, check. Ugh.
I know. I wasn’t supposed to compare this to the Harry Potter series, but I couldn’t help it! The Mage was a more ambitious version of Dumbledore. Baz was a nicer version of Draco. Hermione and Penelope are virtually the same people, except Penelope is half-Indian (KUDOS FOR THE DIVERSITY THOUGH, RAINBOW!)
But despite the similarities, I found myself invested in these characters. The best part about this novel is the relationships (at least, most of them). Simon and Penny’s friendship was heart-warming and wonderful, and Baz and Simon’s relationship was brilliantly done. I will say that I thought that after the first steps in their relationship were taken, it progressed way too quickly, considering that Simon wasn’t even aware that he was gay. I would have liked to see a little more conflict, but I loved it nonetheless. Simon and the Mage’s relationship was… poor. Simon is clearly dependent on the Mage, and he loves him in a way, but that was all telling, not showing.
I do not understand the point of Agatha’s character. She didn’t need to be there.
Rainbow’s a great writer. I know that, and I love most of her work. But unfortunately, I don’t think fantasy is her thing. Of course, this is her very first fantasy and I might be a bit too harsh, but I don’t think Rainbow’s a great fantasy writer. Sorry. 🙁