Review

Review | Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

The pen is mightier than the sword!

Whoa…in the Simon Snow universe, I could probably make Percy Jackson’s sword, Riptide…

…but it’s not for anyone whose been kidnapped by fucking numpties.

carry on cover

Summary

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One to ever be chosen.

At least, that’s the belief of his (unconfirmed) vampire roommate/nemesis, Baz. But Baz isn’t necessarily wrong. With the magic sucking power of the Insidious Humdrum growing, the world may need the greatest power of powers—Simon—more than ever. But Simon can barely perform simple spells, instead exploding randomly with excessive bursts of magic.

In his last year at Watford, there are more problems for Simon than just his inadequacy as a chosen one. His girlfriend breaks up with him, the Mage wants to hide him away, there are visitings from the dead…and Baz is missing.

Which is driving Simon crazy.

Part ghost story, part mystery, part fantasy, part romance that only she can provide, Carry On is Rainbow Rowell’s take on the Simon Snow universe.

Review

So, I’m going to start this off with the general consensus about Rowell’s books: I. SHIP. IT. SO. MUCH.

Okay, we’ve got that out of the wa—SO. MUCH.

Sorry, done. But you see my point? If you don’t approach Carry On as a romance, you’re not going to have a fun time.

Because, like all of her books, Rowell’s focus is her characters. And while I didn’t really like Fangirl, I adore this book so much, and it’s because of the characters. Each character is so distinct in personality, with a balances mix of light and dark.

Baz and Simon are especially good examples of this. Baz—who by all rights is a Slytherin—is actually a really sweet, genuine young man. Simon, on the other hand, while supposedly the good guy/chosen one, is surprisingly selfish and downright violent at times. Simon’s mentor, the Mage, and Baz’s mother, the former headmistress, are also both good and bad. They both have good intentions, but there are both going about them the wrong way. And I like that about these characters. They are complex.

But this side cast. It’s like Rowell heard my complaints about Eleanor and Park and decided she needed a stronger side cast. I love Penelope, the strong, intelligent feminist. But I also like Agatha, the girl who just wants to be normal. And Ebb, a woman with enough power to rule the world, but all she wants to do is tend to goats. And Fiona, the sympathetic but also vindictive aunt.

But the character interactions just push these traits even farther. I love Penny’s interactions and how Agatha reacts to her surroundings. But the really winner is Baz and Simon because…ADORABLE.

To be honest, it almost got to the point where I believed Simon was more in love with Baz than Baz was, but that’s not possible because On love’s light wings doesn’t work for just anyone. 

Carry On is a fun divergence from Rowell’s typical fare. With an alternate universe with magic and mages and it’s own political system, Rowell gets a chance to show off her world building skills. And I have to say, I’m quite impressed. I like the magic system a lot—using common significant phrases to make things happen. It explains the animosity between monsters and mages, as well as understanding how magic works and how it evolves over time.

You can tell that Rowell isn’t that serious with her magical world. There are obvious parallels to Harry Potter, with an interesting but amusing combination of serious and silly. To get at what I mean, some of the magical creatures included are called “numpties” and “merwolves.” ….yeah.

That’s not to say that her world building is terrible, per se, but I just wish there was more of it, a possibly with a tad bit more seriousness. I would gladly read more—a more in depth explanation of the politics, magic system, and social concerns of the magickal world. The setting just never felt complete.

But I like Rowell’s take on the Chosen One plot. As I mentioned before, Carry On isn’t just about carrying on a prophecy, it’s about carrying on in spite of one. Of what happens when you mess with fate, when you try to interpret the future.

And that’s what makes this such a strong novel, even with the predictable chosen one elements and lack of world building—Rowell’s romance supplements her message about the Chosen One story. I really appreciate that about this book.

Recommendation: Buy. Fans of Rowell and chosen one stories are bound to love Carry On. With romance and magic, it’s hard to say no.

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5 thoughts on “Review | Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

  1. I’m so excited to read this!! I trust your judgement, so I’m glad you loved it so much. I’ll be prepared for romance over fantasy, so hopefully that won’t bother me as much 🙂

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  2. Yess!! Hahah, “but it’s not for anyone who gets kidnapped by fucking numpties.” More dialogue that just songs with character and hilarity. Which goes along with your point about how well-developed each character is: all the characters have humor (except maybe the Mage, Ebb, etc), but only Fiona could have said that.

    You reminded me of how much I loved the moral ambiguity of the Mage and Baz’s mom, and how that doesn’t really matter? Baz is pretty sure his mom would have killed him for being a vampire, but he loves her and vows to avenge her all the same. There’s not really good and evil, just people with passionate beliefs and different life experiences. And Simon learns to carry on, even when his dichotomy of good/evil is shattered.

    I agree with your love for the minor characters. And for SIMON AND BAZ. It’s been a while since I’ve shipped a pair so intensely. They’re just so cute together! “Did you think we were going to just kiss all night?” “Well, yeah.” 😍

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  3. OH MY GOSH, MY FAVORITE BOOOK!!!!! I cannot keep my smile off my face. I am also in love with your review,”Carry On isn’t just about carrying on a prophecy, it’s about carrying on in spite of one.” Beautiful. I also agree that the side characters make Carry On one of Rainbow’s greatest masterpieces. I like that she focuses on her characters as much as she does, even if that means losing clarity in her worlds.

    I have a new blog, https://anyways2015.wordpress.com/, if you would like to check it out! 🙂

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