Carry On 
by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin's Griffin | October 6, 2015
     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.
I picked up Carry On from the library knowing almost nothing about it. I knew two things: it's by Rainbow Rowell, and it has LGBTQ+. I didn't know that it's a "canon," I still don't know what that word means. I had already begun reading when I learned that Carry On is a spin-off, of sorts, that originated from Fangirl. After learning that, I understood why I was confused by the book and considered abandoning my current read for Fangirl. I didn't, and I have mixed feelings about my decision.

From the beginning, I thought this book was a fan fiction of Harry Potter. Simon is the chosen one, but he's not great at magic. I immediately summarized the story as, what if Harry Potter was only decent at magic, which is an accurate summary. Also, Penelope is essentially the non-white Hermione "canon," which I love. I've always loved Hermione's character, so I was happy to meet Penelope and see some diversity. Finally, I think Drarry-Draco/Harry-shippers will rejoice over Simon and Baz's relationship; it's everything they wished for, and more.

The beginning is very rough around the edges. I knew nothing about the Simon Snow story, and the info-dumps didn't help. It felt like reading the last book of a series you've never read, and the author's trying to make up for that by throwing all the information she can. This is where I considered reading Fangirl because that book might've shined a little more light and background. However, many readers said that it was unnecessary to do so. It took a while to get into the story, but I enjoyed it, for the most part.

I loved the Baz/Simon dynamic, it's super cute, but the plot wasn't as enjoyable. Virtually nothing happens until Baz appears. Before his appearance, the story is focused on getting readers acquainted with the world and the characters. Once he appears, the plot switches to solving a murder that occurred almost two decades ago. I don't mean to be a bitch, but there are more pressing matters that threaten the magical world, so solving an old murder can wait. This subplot eventually merges with the main plot of defeating the Humdrum, but it takes ages! I have zero patience with these things, that's why I read spoilers. I wished it developed faster. I also thought Agnes was unnecessary/caused unnecessary drama. If she wasn't there, nothing really changes.

I love the characters, the writing, and the concept, but something is missing. I didn't, in my opinion, see any character development. It felt like, "Hey, here are some characters! Read them do stuff for a long time!" Also, the plot isn't particularly strong. I would've liked to see the story taking place somewhere else. The plot is already incredibly similar to Harry Potter, it wouldn't hurt to have it set elsewhere. I know it's a spin-off from another novel, and it's too late to change. The magic system could've been more developed too. Like, how come only certain songs are strong spells? It's not as thought out as it should be.

As always, Khanh's review captures my sentiments exactly with better articulation.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree on the Baz/Simon dynamics! Loved to read that.
    I think I'm gonna read Fangirl one day and then re-read Carry On, yes :)


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