Book Review: Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

I’m usually weird about sequels. I’ll either read them immediately after finishing the first installment, or I’ll wait months–or in some cases years–before picking them up. In the case of Wayward Son, I dived right in after finishing Carry On. And what a time it was. (Note: This review will contain spoilers for books one and two in the Simon Snow Trilogy. You can my spoiler-free review of Carry On [book one] here).

About the Book

The story is supposed to be over.

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…

So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.

They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

With Wayward Son, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. It’s another helping of sour cherry scones with an absolutely decadent amount of butter.

Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero’s journey might be over – but your life has just begun. (via Goodreads)

Review

Wayward Son was a fun adventure and antics-filled sequel that was just as readable as its first installment. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from this book (and I’d honestly seen some not-so-great reviews for it over the years), but I thoroughly enjoyed the direction that it took the overall story–and I found that it had a lot of heart, too. Being a sequel to Carry On is a tough order fulfill, but I was overall still impressed at what this sequel accomplished.

Wayward Son served to answer a lot of our questions about vampirism, and ended up being more of a vampire book at its center than anything else. Baz being a vampire was something that wasn’t explored much in the first book, so I thought it was a good choice to not only teach the readers more about the vampires in this world, but also expand the lore outside of the familiar English setting.

The road-trip aspect of the story lended itself well to some fun pit stops (a Ren Faire!)–and even more, it was a clever way of explaining how magic works for our three main characters while in the U.S. The magic system within the World of Mages has its limits, so I loved reading about Penelope and Baz floundering for more “American” spells or needing to rest and recharge before using their magic again. It made the story feel that much more tangible for me, and was a nice touch of character growth for them both.

It was also interesting to see Simon so out of his element. He’s struggling with no longer being the “Chosen One” that he’s been deemed all his life and is also learning to live without magic (save for his now-permanent [maybe?] wings and tail). I appreciated how Rainbow Rowell made the chapters from his perspective so volatile. Simon felt every emotion so intensely and that really translated off of the page.

On the heels of Simon’s intense emotions was the quintessential lovers quarrel between him and Baz, which I honestly didn’t mind. Sure, I didn’t love reading about my ship going through such a hard time, but it felt warranted. Both Simon and Baz have extremely opposite journeys of identity that are explored over the course of this book, so the conflicting feelings about the state of their relationship felt natural. Though, I will say that I am excited to see the two of them on mend in the final installment.

The only drawback for me was the way that the final battle scene with the vampires played out. There were a lot of perspective changes, which made the scene a bit hard to follow. At some points, I wasn’t sure if I had just missed something or if the writing was intentionally vague. However, I don’t necessarily read these books for the fighting sequences, so it didn’t hugely hinder my reading experience.

Overall, Wayward Son did its job as a sequel. I may not have loved it as much as Carry On, but I’m still extremely captured by this series and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

My Ratings

Grade Scale: B+

Star Scale: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)

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