Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: Macmillan Children’s Books, 2015
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy
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4 out of 5 stars
A Chosen One was foretold: Simon. The greatest Mage the magical world would know; one to defeat the Insidious Humdrum and save magic. Simon though doesn’t have the whole Chosen One thing figured out. If only he could find a way to focus his magic, control it…
After loving Fangirl – where Carry On originated from – I was looking forward to the release of this book – I look forward to any book by Rainbow Rowell. I’ll admit I was a little nervous: Will I love it as much as her other books? especially because the Carry On parts weren’t my favourites in Fangirl. Carry On sadly didn’t start off fantastic for me, but it certainly improved. I think I shall compose a list… Prepare for bullet points.
- Simon, I’m sorry to say in the beginning felt a bit flat for me. I don’t know what it was. It’s odd, as I liked him but I couldn’t quite feel too much for him; he wasn’t quite three-dimensional enough? I don’t know…I don’t quite understand it myself. But good news people: he grew on me. As time went on, I came to really appreciate his selflessness and desire to always do the right thing. The fact that he couldn’t immediately realise why he was so obsessed with Baz had me amused and dying for him to realise and it all happened rather, lets say…rather suddenly? It felt kind of unexpected in that moment, but at the same time you know it’s coming, eventually.
- Baz is not a character that I would usually love. He can be arrogant, cruel and well, a total arse, but…he is probably my favourite character. In the beginning, Baz is not present – we only hear about him from Simon – and I couldn’t wait for him to show up because like Simon I really wanted to know where he had been. When he showed up the book improved for me. There’s much more to Baz and I enjoyed seeing that; it was nice to see his personal growth. He is full of confidence but at the same time still struggles with what he is. He is determined to not be a monster.
- Baz and Simons’ relationship: seriously people, I ship these two boys so much! In an article, I’m sure I read that Rainbow Rowell said that she’s made it no secret that this is a love story between two boys, so feel as though I’m giving nothing away talking about this. It’s that story of, I hate you in public but secretly I’m madly in love with you. We’re on different sides of a war, so it would never work anyway. The way in which Simon being gay or not is handled was nicely done, I think. He didn’t really think about it too much – he had other things on his mind – and I think it kind of leaves it open, in a way… Why does there have to be such a focus on labels? Why does he have to label himself gay or straight? What if he likes both girls and boys? He was dating a girl to begin with, which doesn’t mean he isn’t gay, but it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like girls as well. Why can’t he just like who he likes without there being such a big headache over labelling it? Rainbow once again writes beautiful relationships.
“I was eleven years old, and I’d lost my mother, and my soul, and the Crucible gave me you.”
“‘You were the centre of my universe,’ I say. ‘Everything else spun around you.'”
- Penelope and Simon: yay! A strong female-male friendship. They are best-friends and are always there for each other, and it’s just wonderful to see.
- Words. Words are important for spells in the world of Carry On, which I appreciate but at the same time I found it kind of juvenile? The spells were kind of silly and quite bothered me in the beginning. Simon is eighteen but, at times, I felt like I was reading a ‘younger’ book in YA, if that makes sense?
- The ‘Harry Potter’ similarities also bothered me in the beginning and I had to remind myself that this started as ‘Harry Potter’ fan fiction, so of course there are similarities. The references don’t just stop at ‘Harry Potter’ though: in the same interview mentioned above, Rainbow talks about how these references are intentional and that she wants people to notice these and go Oh, I see what she’s done there. After this I then came across a Twilight reference and burst out laughing.
- Unanswered questions. The end pages of the book moved me and made me smile but I finished it feeling as though there were a couple of unanswered questions: Nicodemus and the issue of whose Simons’ parents are. It’s not possible to talk too much about Nicodemus without revealing things, but he seemed to just disappear – although he wasn’t featured too heavily in the first place – and I would have liked to have seen his reaction to something that took place. It wasn’t too difficult to work out whose Simons’ parents are but Simon doesn’t work out who his parents are and I would have liked him to have found out.
Carry On didn’t have me convinced in the beginning, but slowly drew me in and kept me riveted. The element which really won me over though, were the character relationships. Rainbow Rowell certainly knows how to weave captivating relationships between people. So, if you were thinking of reading this, go forth and do it – Carry on, people.
“They make me crave Watford like, I don’t know, like life itself.”