A Review of Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Don’t get confused, this may be a review but this is still a part of the blog challenge. I’m not forgetting my duties here. This prompt does align more with interests than some of the other’s do. For instance; I want to do book reviews on this blog. I don’t think I have the commitment needed to be a full-fledged book blogger, but books have always been a big part of my life. This blog is like a representation of who I am and my life so why shouldn’t I include the things I’m interested in.

So without further ado…

Cover Appeal

Back when I was a disciple of the Rainbow Rowell fandom, I followed the lead up to Carry On like a hawk. Like many other Carry On readers, I was introduced to Simon and Baz through fanficion written by Cath Avery, a character from Rainbow Rowell’s book Fangirl.

So I was there when she released the special edition cover where you could color in the booksleeve yourself. It was awesome, and I’m not gonna lie and say I didn’t want one, because I did. But I think I like the cover Rainbow ended up with. It matches the spirit of the book, a stand alone fantasy book that works in a universe like it’s just one in a series, but the real fans know that Cath “wrote” it all along. So that homemade marker look works well in a fun whimsical way.

Synopsis

It’s Simon Snows last year at Watford and he’s dreading leaving the place for the last time. He’s in a weird place with his beautiful, angelic girlfriend Agatha Wellbelove, after seeing her holding hands with his arch nemesis Basilton Pitch. Meanwhile his mentor, The Mage (who is also the headmaster of Watford) is ignoring him in preparation of a final battle with the great Humdrum and the Great Families of the magical world.

Confused yet? Well, so am I but I’m not finished.

With the help of his best friend, Penelope Bunce, Simon has to figure out why the Mage is being so secretive, when and where the great Humdrum will strike next, and just what Baz is up to this year.

My thoughts

First off; What!? Who?! Where!? And, most importantly, WHAT!?

I’m apart of that group of people who actually had a heads up about the Simon Snow series being a seven book phenomenon in the world Rowell created for Cath, and I’m still confused. The book starts much like the sequel to a beloved book series would. There’s no need for any character introductions because it all happened several books ago. But because the story is in fact, new to a lot of us, it still would have been nice to give back story.

My main issue is with perspective shifts and how dumb Simon Snow is. While it’s true this is supposed to be a parallel version of the Harry Potter series, that doesn’t excuse how dense Simon is for a large portion of the book.

He obsesses to the point of making himself sick when Baz is missing for the first week of school, which some people would say proves he always had hidden feelings but I disagree. He’d rather ignore the rather pressing issue of where his relationship is going with Agatha, which is understandable of a teenager. He blindly trusts his mentor despite ample proof of the fact that the Mage often does shady shit without talking to anyone about it. Baz has pretty much given up on making Simon suffer, but Simon is so stuck up on how things were before, that he doesn’t even realize Baz isn’t all that concerned with what he does.

Also, Baz is hopelessly in love with Simon, and is maturely trying to give the Chosen One some space, despite his family chomping at the bit to cause Simone and his mentor harm. Baz is stuck in a rock and a hard place and honestly just wants to suffer in silence while everyone around him is up in arms about some cause and expecting him to help out.

Not to mention, SPOILER ALERT, the Mage is obvi evil. He’s basically a dictator of the magical world who’s expected to run a school and the government of the magical world all at once. Who gave someone that kind of power?

The shifting perspectives takes away from the story to the point of redundancy. Usually, when a part of a story is told from another persons perspective, the information imparted upon the reader is then given to the rest of the characters. And heres where Simon’s thick skull come into play. He’s visited by a ghost he’s never seen before, and assumes its his roommates (Baz) mother, he spends a week deciding whether or not to tel his roommate that his DEAD MOTHER CAME TO THEIR ROOM TO IMPART A MESSAGE TO THEM, only to have the message be imperative to defeating the great Humdrum.

Forgetting of course that Baz’s mother is a highly prolific woman whose photo has to have been taken once. And no matter that Simon was raised as a human before joining the magical world, Baz’s mother was the former Mage and dean of Watford. There had to be portraits or at least photos of the woman lying around. Not to mention Penelope, Simon’s best friend, is a freaking genius. She should have realized that maybe fact checking Simon, who’s dense on a good day, about the ghost he saw in the middle of the night would be better than blindly believing the guy who vacations in denial.

What I Liked

I did like how complete the world seemed. Sometimes it’s nice to be dropped in a  world and not lose precious story development to exposition. I liked how their magic was used and distributed. Their magic was based on words and how frequently their used in the English language, or any language. It’s a lot better than Rowling’s “latin”. It makes magic seem more real, the fact that some people are just inherently more talented and than others.

Plus I’m a big language nerd, so the fact that magic is basically dictated by the current slang and be corrupted by linguistic shift just opens up so many possibilities. It’s something I’ve never seen before in a fantasy novel and I liked it.

Would I Read Again

Yes, but not for story purposes. Penelope Bunce is really quite likable as a character. She’s intelligent and real and loyal, a lot like Ron Weasley. Baz is also a character I can really identify with, why he’s interested in a block head like Simon Snow I’ll never understand.

The story overall seemed like an after thought to me. There were deaths that didn’t have too much weight for me because I didn’t know the characters anyway so why should I care. The eventual climax was pretty lackluster, especially since it kept flipping between perspectives which really fucked with the pacing

Rating

✰ ✰ ✰

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