Carry On by Rainbow Rowell | Review

Posted January 11, 2017 by Cristina (Girl in the Pages) in Reviews / 6 Comments

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell | ReviewCarry On by Rainbow Rowell
Also by this author: Eleanor & Park
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on October 6th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 522 •Format: HardcoverSource: Purchased
Goodreads
three-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.

I love love love Rainbow Rowell, and Carry On was the last novel of hers I had left to read. I put it off for quite some time, I think mostly because I was a bit wary of one of my favorite contemporary authors writing in a completely different genre. I was scared I wouldn’t love it as much, and I’ll admit I did some skimming during the Simon Snow portions of Fangirl. While my feelings about Carry On aren’t as vast and burning as my love for Rainbow’s other novels such as Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, I’m so glad to have it as a part of my collection.

So first off, let’s discuss the Potter-shaped elephant in the room. Is this book similar to Harry Potter? Definitely. Fangirl gives off the vibe that the Simon Snow books are in Cath’s universe to what the Harry Potter books are in ours, with a Draco/Harry shipping fanfiction twist. The parallels are impossible to ignore, with a trio of friends, elitist old magic families, and even a “Hagrid” type character who herds Watford’s ghosts and has a checkered past. However, I went into this book almost expecting it to be a bit of a parody on Harry Potter, and I found it to be really fun and funny. Yes, it’s very meta and self-aware in some ways, especially in the ways it integrates pop culture references and non-magic society so seamlessly, as opposed to HP’s closed off system where Hogwarts doesn’t have a whole lot of interaction with Muggle popular culture. A lot of the characters also seemed to be hilarious caricatures of HP characters (Penny is the smart and sassy friend who is always getting Simon out of his messes, Simon is like Harry if he was all brawn and no brains, Baz is Draco from every fan fiction writer’s fantasies, etc.) Halfway through the book though the plot starts to diverge from HP and become a bit more unique, so it’s not unbearably similar, although the resemblance is undeniably there.

While Rowell’s writing is delightful as ever, I did find this novel lacked a coherent feel that the rest of her novels do (coherent as in she writes delightful standalones that feel fleshed out and well-thought out). Carry On is obviously supposed to be a last book in a series, so the feeling of missing out on a certain amount of context and the need for info dumping is rather inevitable. However, I would have appreciated a least a bit more explanation regarding how the magic system (based on words) worked, and the running motif of magic being finite, something that can be “used up” or wasted.

But let’s talk about BAZ. I LOVE HIM. He is my precious, angsty bb. Even though I found Simon to be highly, highly annoying I couldn’t help but root for their romance because I wanted Baz to be happy and to be his authentic self despite all of the old magic family high expectations placed upon him. He’s pretty much everything my 13 year old fanfiction loving self wanted Draco to be (I was big into the Draco/Hermione FF, not gonna lie). I pretty much knew going in what was going to happen with the romance after reading Fangirl/reading reviews/general book community discussion, but I still think Rowell did such a great job building up the romance and showing the sometimes tenuous line between love and hate (I mean Simon’s chronic obsession with Baz, even when he still hates him, is pretty telling).

Also, although I’m not sure this is a book I’d reread I’m absolutely obsessed with the new paperback cover that’s coming out in 2017. I may have to buck all of my book buying resolutions for 2017 and have Amazon Prime ship it straight to me please&thankyou.

Overall: Carry On bears strong associations with the Harry Potter series, but becomes it’s own, fun story if you stick with it. While the novel is subject to a lot of info-dumping and feels about 150 pages too long, Baz and Simon’s story is silly and fun and just meta enough to put a smile on your face. I liked Carry On, but it doesn’t quite compare to my love of Rainbow’s contemporary novels.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Goodreads Challenge 2016
  • Must Read in 2016 Challenge
  • Rock My TBR 2016

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6 responses to “Carry On by Rainbow Rowell | Review

  1. Great review! I adored Fangirl, but I’ve been skeptical about this one. I don’t know…I just find it weird that this got turned into a book? Like you said, it’s supposed to be the last book in a series.I’m still going to read it eventually, of course, because, like you, I just really love her contemporary novels so I can’t NOT read this one. Thanks for the review!!

    – Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover

    • Yeah, that’s exactly how I felt going in. I ended up enjoying it, but it was sort of jarring and I felt like I bought it a bit out of a sense of obligation since I have read all of her other books. I love the new cover though…I wish I had that one!

  2. Carry On is the only Rainbow Rowell novel I haven’t read yet! But it does sound like it’d be a lot of fun. I really hope I get a chance to read this one soon (and I do think that paperback cover looks really awesome) 🙂

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