Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Book Review: "Carry On" by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell is definitely an author whose books I have loved over the last few years. Her books Eleanor & Park and Fangirl both made my list of my favorite books in 2013, and her novel Landline definitely appealed to my not-so-inner sap.

Needless to say, when I heard she had a new book coming out, I was tremendously excited. And when I heard that the concept of Carry On was the expansion into novel form of fan fiction written by a character in Fangirl, I was intrigued, and wondered how this meta-concept would work.

Simon Snow is apparently the most powerful magician in the world. And that's not bad for a teenager who never knew his parents, who found himself being enrolled in the Watford School of Magicks, and was taken under the wing of The Mage, who oversees all of the magic in the world. It's been prophesied that Simon will be the magician to save the world—all he needs to do is be able to harness his magic properly.

While Simon has the support of his much-smarter best friend Penelope, and his girlfriend Agatha, he faces two major challenges: the world is being threatened by the Insidious Humdrum, a magic-eating villain who looks like Simon as a child, and Simon's biggest nemesis, his roommate Baz, is missing at the start of their last year at Watford. And when Baz returns, he and Simon enter into a shaky truce to solve a mystery that changed Baz's life and affected his entire family, if not the whole magickal world. What's the world's most powerful magician to do?

So yes, the story feels more than similar to the Harry Potter series in so many ways. In fact, I'll admit that through most of the book I couldn't shake the images of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Tom Felton, even though these characters weren't completely like Harry, Hermione, and Draco. For about the first quarter of the book I couldn't really understand why Rainbow Rowell had decided to write this particular story, and I felt that I was dropped into the story in about Book 7.

Then Baz returned, and (ironically) breathed life into the whole shebang. The dynamics between Simon and Baz were absolutely fantastic, and the action, magic, mystery, and romance all ratcheted up from that point on. Rowell once again proved she has a knack for creating memorable characters and touching your emotions, even in a story that feels a little too familiar, although with a twist. Carry On is a little braver emotionally than the Harry Potter series, although the latter definitely has more to offer in the magic-and-evil domain.

Carry On is fun, sweet, and perfect for those of us who haven't quite felt the same since we said goodbye to Hogwarts and Fillory (if you haven't read Lev Grossman's Magicians trilogy, it's pretty fascinating). It's not a perfect book, and while I'm still not 100 percent sure if the gimmick worked (especially some of the slang and exclamations the characters use), I still wouldn't mind another installment in the adventures of Simon, Baz, and Penny.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful book. I was a hesitant at first, since the book is basically Harry Potter slashfic and I'm not currently in a J.K. Rowling mood. But this is a delightful novel, with an irresistable romance between two magical students at odds with one another. It's written in rotating first person POV and is a fast, fun read. It's YA, essentially, with a compelling and absorbing male/male romance at the heart. There's no explicit sex, and the violence is in line with most fantasy novels. It would appeal to teens or adult fans of fantasy and romance.