Rainbow Rowell continues to break boundaries with Carry On, an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestseller Fangirl.
Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.
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 loved Carry On. It was electric, sarcastically dry, witty, and an amazingly written novel. Rainbow Rowell is the queen of romance, and Carry On proves that that romance doesn’t even have to be between a boy and a girl.
First of all, to the Harry Potter similarities/differences. I won’t get too caught up, because Carry On is a novel in it’s own right, and doesn’t need to be compared to Harry Potter, but I will do a paragraph here because I know people are dying to know what this whole world of Simon Snow is about.
There are definitely some similarities with Harry Potter, but Rainbow Rowell has seen this, and tried to keep it to a minimum. There are three “borrowed” characters – Simon Snow (Harry Potter), Penelope Bunce (Hermione Watson) and The Mage (Albus Dumbledore). People are calling this Drarry fanfic, but I don’t really think that Baz is that similar to Draco Malfoy. I mean, sure he hates Simon, but he also loves Simon and is a vampire(that’s on my blurb so I doubt that’s a spoiler, plus it says so in Fangirl). So no, Baz is a completely original creation from Rainbow, and this can barely be Harry Potter fanfic when she’s only borrowed three characters right? The only other thing she’s borrowed from Harry Potter is the world. The world of Mages and Normals, magic or non-magic, magic schools and non-magic schools, etc, etc. So, of course, there are similarities to Harry Potter that you will see when you read the book, but the plot and actions and everything else in the book is completely different. Ok, that’s enough Harry Potter. Moving on. Oh, oh wait, and there’s also no Ron. Harry and Hermione but the Ron representative is officially dead in Carry On.
The first and only flaw I had with the book: the pacing at the start of the book. Because this book is set in Simon’s sixth year or so (I can’t remember, it might be seventh) at Watford (Hogwarts), there’s a lot of setting up. It’s basically like Carry On is the 7th book in a series, and she’s trying to sum up the first 6 in about 50 pages. Therefore, there’s a bit of info dumping at the start, but it’s not boring, because Rowell has thrown in small anecdotes to make things a little bit more interesting, and not so “textbook”. Also, to get some more information across, there’s frequent flashbacks, especially at the beginning. Look out the ellipsis, which usually symbolise the beginning and the end of the flashbacks. But that wasn’t a problem
What I did find a little of a problem was that the novel moves way too slowly in the first 200 pages or so (the book’s about 500 pages, so quite a thick novel). Not much happened, nothing happened between Baz and Simon (actually, Baz is MIA for the first 149 pages and that’s on the blurb as well, so it’s not a spoiler), not much happened apart from planning. But as soon as Baz entered the scene, the book went BAM and shot off like a cart going down a rollercoaster after climbing slowly to the top.
Although Carry On is mainly marketed as a gay love story, I feel like the love was only half the story (I mean, the gay-love thing was only introduced on page 176, when we finally get an insight into Baz’s thoughts). Usually, a lot of Rowell’s novels are based completely on love, and the relationship between two people (*ahem*FangirilEleanorandParkAttachments*ahem*), but because Carry On was a fantasy story as well, there was always heaps happening, and the love was just a section of that. There was the Humdum (kind of like Voldemort I guess) who was trying to destroy magic, and the serial killers who went around killing people’s family members, etc. So although it’s a love story, it’s only 50% a love story (but the 50% love story was bloody good).
Rainbow Rowell has once again, struck with her beautifully sarcastic wit. It’s funny, even at the moments of dark despair and I swear this will make you laugh out loud (I resisted the temptation to write LOL there). I mean:
Micah plays baseball, and he has a face so symmetrical, you could summon a demon on it.
Baz has a wand… But Penny has a ring. And Gareth has a belt buckle (It’s really inconvenient – he has to thrust his pelvis forward whenever he wants to cast a spell…)
Also, it’s refreshingly modern, with references like:
She falls asleep in the middle of telling me about a song she’s heard, a song that she thinks will be a spell someday though I can’t think of any use for “Call me maybe”.
And other examples, like where a moving painting is describes as a “GIF carved into the wall”. It’s relevant and immersing, without making references to “teenagers and their smartphones these days” (ugh, don’t you hate it when old people say that.)
Somebody needs to turn this into a movie already. The writing is so visual, with everything shown through dialogue or actions. There’s very little actual singular thought (and although that sounds bad, it isn’t because all of the emotions are shown through dialogue or actions, which is the definition of show don’t tell). I mean, it’s basically begging to be a movie.
Ok, now to the ending. Wow. The ending. Everything fits perfectly, and suddenly, all the clues that are dropped throughout the whole book make perfect sense, and the beginning slots into the end. It’s like there’s pieces of a puzzle, and nothing makes sense until the last piece is slotted in, or like you’ve drawn a circle, and you’ve finally come back to where you started. It’s probably planned, to fit that well with the beginning of the book, but it doesn’t seem forced, and it’s rare to find a book with an ending that’s actually built up to, rather than just slapped together to tie all the ends together.
Before I leave, I’ll drop you a quote and an iPhone 5 wallpaper. Please contact me through the contact page on my blog if you would like more sizes! Feel free to share, all quotes belong to the amazing Rainbow Rowell!
Thank you to Pan MacMillan for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest opinion!
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆ 9/10
Carry On is out now. Buy at your local bookstore.
- Title: Carry On
- Author: Rainbow Rowell
- Paperback: 521 pages
- Publisher: Pan MacMillan (October 6th, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250049555
- URL: Goodreads