Another TBR veteran, conquered! Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is a book that I’ve owned since it’s release in 2015. And as many times as I tried to start it in the past, I was never in the right mood for it to stick. But timing is truly everything, because this book not only cured my month-long reading slump this time around, but also reminded me why exactly I love Rainbow Rowell’s work.
About the Book
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. (via Goodreads).
As fictional fan fiction goes, this book was everything I wanted it to be. If you’re unaware, Carry On is the fan fiction written by protagonist, Cath, in the novel, Fangirl. It’s a fan fiction for a series called Simon Snow, which is the Fangirl-universe version of Harry Potter. Our two main characters are comparable to Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, making Carry On essentially a Harry/Draco fanfic for all intents and purposes. It’s all a bit meta, but as a huge fan of Fangirl (it’s one of my all times favorites), this book ticked all of my boxes.
I found Carry On to be so compulsively readable, laugh out loud funny, and fast-paced. Since this story wasn’t attempting to be the source material for Simon Snow, we’re able to jump right in and forego any unnecessary exposition. Rowell expects us to be familiar enough with the concept of the Chosen One who was orphaned and attends a magical school. Thus, most of the book is focused on demonstrating the complexity of the character relationships, and fleshing out each of their character archetypes. Our Draco-esque vampire character, Baz, is more than just the adversary to Simon. In this book, we see his internal (and external) struggles, and even better–we hear him vocalize and address them. Similarly, from the very start of the book, Simon’s character is characterized as being reckless and heroic to a fault due to the legendary “Chosen One” label that’s been pushed upon him. It was so refreshing to read about such holistic characters, and it made me care for each and every one of them.
Also, though I loved seeing Rainbow Rowell turn the Chosen One trope on its head, she managed to execute it in a way that was self-aware, but not overbearingly tongue-in-cheek. This book was fun and witty—yes—but it had depth too. The story uses elements and character-types that we’re familiar with, but still manages to feel authentic and fresh. That’s definitely not easy to do, and I think it was accomplished extremely well in this first book.
Overall, I loved every word of Carry On and I can’t wait to continue on with the trilogy!
“You have to pretend you get an endgame. You have to carry on like you will; otherwise, you can’t carry on at all.”— Rainbow Rowell, Carry On
Grade Scale: A
Star Scale: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 (4.5 stars)