Last year I reviewed Rainbow Rowell’s novel Fangirl. A large part of that novel is about the main character writing fan fiction about the Simon Snow novels. Simon Snow is a fictional character within a fictional story. How weird is that? Anyway, this year, Rowell published the novel Carry On, which was based on the Simon Snow character. Considering I really enjoyed Fangirl, I was eager to read Carry On. But was it any good?
What is it about?
Once again, GoodReads can summarize the story better than I can, so here it is:
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.
Harry Potter meets Twilight
When I read the book, I was not sure if it had anything to do with Fangirl or not. In the acknowledgements, Rowell says that this was her take on the chosen one stories. She just wanted to take the character she had made up for Fangirl and put her own spin on it. When I read Fangirl I already thought the Simon Snow story was very similar to Harry Potter. I always perceived it as a parody on the Harry Potter series. While reading Carry On, I was still convinced that Harry Potter and partly Twilight were the main inspiration for this story.
Carry On is a cute tale which basically uses all the tropes used in those chosen one stories. That makes the book recognisable for everybody who enjoys such stories. That said, the story did not have enough substance to actually fill those 500 pages. Especially in the beginning, the book was very slow. Therefore it took a long time for me to actually get into the book. It wasn’t until the last 100 pages or so that it finally caught my interest. The fact that it was so predictable did not help. But then again, that is not really an issue for me considering the nature of the story.
Carry On has been written in a rather simple yet accessible writing style. It is a refreshing difference from the poetic prose I’ve had to endure in most of the last few books I’ve reviewed. That said, at times it felt a little bit too simple. One of the things that Carry On has going for it are the characters, While not many of them are fleshed out, they are still fun to read about, While I did not really care about Simon, I did think Baz was an interesting character. I mean, a queer vampire mage? Can’t go wrong with that.
I do wish that some of these characters had been fleshed out more, but all in all they were fun to read about. Another fun thing about the novel is that there is actually a lot of adult language involved. I don’t know why I find that so enjoyable, but it made it a lot more fun to read.
One thing I had to get used to were the spells used in the novel. They were all common sayings and while I appreciate the jokes, it was a bit confusing at times.
A major storyline revolves around the (spoiler) relationship between the two main characters. They happen to be gay and it is not treated as a massive thing. That is good. There is a call for diversity in books, but I feel like if diversity is treated as a pat on the back for the author, it is not genuine. The diversity in Carry On felt authentic and went well with the story. If you are looking for a diverse book, Carry On might be a fun one to read.
There are plenty of reasons why Carry On is a fun read, although it does take a while to get invested into the story. And when the action finally started, I found that I was not as thrilled to keep reading. But all in all, it is a fun and easy read for when you are in the mood to read something that’s not to be taken too seriously.