Sunday, September 18, 2016
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell - Review
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Baz says Simon Snow is the worst chosen one. Even though Baz, Simon's roommate and nemesis, is a vampire and an annoying jerk, he's probably right since half of the time he can't even make his wand work. It's their final year at Watford School of Magicks and the Insidious Humdrum, a magic eating psycho who is currently wearing an eleven year-old version of Simon's face, is planning a huge attack, his girl friend, Agatha, has dumped him, and his mentor, The Mage, is avoiding him at the time Simon needs him most. The least Baz could do is bother to show up.
Ever since I finished Fangirl, I've wanted to delve into the World of Mages. I loved how we had little snippets of Cath's fanfiction peppered throughout her story so I was very excited when I heard that Carry On was actually being released, but I was very nervous to see how it would actually turn out. Luckily for me, I loved it - maybe not 100% loved it, but probably somewhere around 95%. In the beginning of this standalone companion novel, it parallels Harry Potter, like it appears to in Fangirl, but it becomes more and more unique as it goes along with plenty of twists and turns to hold your attention.
There's so much to love about Carry On, but Rowell really succeeds at creating and developing her characters, all of which are different from the cast of Harry Potter. Many characters get POV chapters, but my favorites to read from were Simon Snow and Baz. Who am I kidding? My favorite character hands down is Baz! He gets some of the best parts! I also feel like I should mention that The Mage, who has some pretty intriguing differences from Dumbledore and some fantastic reveals, has the best "uniform" - it's described as very Errol Flynn from The Adventures of Robin Hood. I think that should get a star right there!
I also particularly enjoyed just how clever the story and characters (Baz!) are. On the same note, the sense of humor is great. I actually laughed out loud a few times - like I said earlier, Baz gets some of the best lines - and the magic words, of course, can be pretty humorous. Like I've probably mentioned in other reviews of Rainbow Rowell's novels, the writing itself is fantastic. I didn't want to put it down and I felt compelled to keep turning those pages. I just had to find out what was going to happen and how the story was going to conclude. It's great to be able to say that about a book that's over 500 pages long - that it grabbed me right from the very beginning and wouldn't let go.
Lastly, I want to mention two things I didn't like quite as much. Primarily, there's a big info dump at the start where we get told seven years worth of backstory, since of course we're coming into a series right near the very end we have a lot of catching up to do. Once we get caught up it's fine, but the seven years takes a little time to work through. Secondly, I think I would have preferred it if the novel only had two POV characters - Simon and Baz - versus all of the ones we actually end up reading. It would be much easier to keep track of what's going on, who's speaking, and when it's happening if the number of POV characters were trimmed down. On the other hand, though, we do get some valuable information directly from those other characters from time to time.
Overall, I adored Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I can't speak highly enough about it. If you enjoyed the "World of Mages" fanfiction from Fangirl, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, and/ or The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, you will probably enjoy this standalone companion novel. I can honestly say that I want to see more of Simon and Baz.
I read this novel from August 11 - 25, 2016 and my review is also on Goodreads.