Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On CoverBook: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Published October 2015 by St. Martin’s Press|522 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Fantasy

Blog Graphic-What It's About

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 starts 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 – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

When I heard that Rowell was writing Carry On, I was so excited, because I LOVED Fangirl so, so much, and I was really curious about what a Simon Snow book would look like if we actually got one.

BUT.

Simon Snow lost the magic that it had in Fangirl.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the impact that Simon Snow had on Cath in Fangirl, and as a Harry Potter fan for life, I related a lot to the fictional phenomenon that is Simon Snow.  It’s just…I think the magic was in the little snippets we got in Fangirl and FOR ME, it didn’t work as a full, fleshed-out novel.

I definitely appreciate Carry On as an ode to the chosen-one novel that clearly has inspired Rowell, and I appreciate it as a fictional parallel to the awesomeness that is Harry Potter, but it also relied too much on the nostalgia of Harry Potter.  But as it’s own story?  Not so much.

Let’s do random bullet points, because this is probably going to be all over the place.

  • I wanted more plot!  I mean, I know Simon is trying to defeat the Insidious Humdrum and all, but everything felt random and all over the place, and it was just weird.
  • The bits with Lucy were weird and out-of-place until the end of the book when it actually made sense.  At that point, it was too late for me to care about the random chapters narrated by Lucy.
  • The multiple narrators didn’t work for me at all.  I thought they were absolutely horrible!  Of course, there’s Lucy, who didn’t make any sense until the end of the book.  Of course, there’s Simon and Penelope, who I didn’t care about at all, Bas, who was actually the most interesting character in the book, and Agatha, who…why was she there?  It seemed pointless to me to have her in there, because she didn’t add anything to the book except be part of a trio.  It seemed like an unbalanced trio to me.
  • Anyway, with the multiple narrators: it randomly switched and it was always jarring, especially when we were going back and forth between Baz and Simon every couple of sentences.  It was quite dizzying and not in a good way.
  • I was really disappointed in the Mage.  He became an evil villain sort of guy, and I wanted someone more like Dumbledore.  I guess that’s because Rowell was doing a fictional parallel to Harry Potter but still.
  • I wanted something more fun, and I felt like Carry On took itself a little too seriously.
  • I know it’s Rowell’s take on Simon Snow, and that it’s NOT Cath’s fanfic or the 8th and final book in the Simon Snow series, but I really felt like we were just thrown into this world with not enough backstory.  It has been a while since I’ve read Fangirl, but Simon’s world seemed more confusing than it should have been.  Maybe I’m not as well-versed in Chosen One stories as I thought I was, or maybe Rowell tried to explain things without actually explaining things or both or other things I’m too lazy to think of at the moment.
  • It felt like we were just supposed to know this world and how the magic works and that seemed a little unneccessary.  I needed more world-building for some of the more original elements of the book, and Rowell did not deliver on that.
  • Have I mentioned that there’s no plot?  Because there really isn’t.  I kept waiting for something to happen, and it didn’t.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

2 stars.  I wanted to love it, but instead, I am so ambivalent, I don’t care enough to actually hate or dislike it, even though I didn’t like it at all.  I just didn’t care as much as I thought I would.  I can see why people like it, but it’s not for me.

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