Carry On, written by Rainbow Rowell, is a book you’ll fall head-over-heels for.
Simon Snow just wants to relax and savour his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to stow him away in the mountains where he might be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get the chance to relax and savour anything.
I can’t even express how much I loved this book. Right now, I’m trying to control myself from falling off my chair and rolling around on the floor with Carry On held to my chest. It was magically, jaw-droppingly good. Ever since I read Fangirl, I wished I could read more about Simon and Baz. Well, I got my wish, along with the many other people who have fallen head-over-heals for Rainbow Rowell’s writing. I was literally counting down the days until this book was released from about 90 days out. When I finally got my hands on this book, I couldn’t contain myself. I immediately put down the other books I was reading and devoured Carry On in just two days. If I had no other life obligations, I can assure you that I would have just sat on my bed and read it from start to finish in one go.
For those of you who don’t know, Carry On is the fanfic which a character in Fangirl writes, which is based off a fictional series about wizards. This series and the fanfic that Cath writes is very similar to Harry Potter in many aspects, so some may think of it as just a well-written Harry Potter fanfiction. Except different. And surprisingly, even more swoon-worthy. I absolutely loved finding the parts of Carry On which were explicitly mentioned in Fangirl and sometimes I would have the books opened side by side, comparing the magic of Rainbow’s writing. I truly can’t wrap my head around how amazing this book was.
Maybe we’ll talk a little about the world-building now, shall we? For starters, this book felt very British. If you know anything about Rainbow Rowell, you might know she’s not British. However, this book felt researched to ensure the characters sounded British and were kind of British in their actions. This book could have easily felt really American, and then it wouldn’t have achieved one of its purposes. So that’s basically all I wanted to say about the Normal world – the Mage world is far more interesting. It’s rare that I can immediately sink into the world of the characters, particularly if it’s different to our own. But with Carry On, in an eery sense, it felt like I was coming home. In many ways, it is similar to Harry Potter, so that may have helped, or maybe I was just so relieved to be back in a magical world. Nevertheless, I felt comfortable at Watford and like I could be dropped into their world and already have a clear picture of their school. And also, I’m not sure about all versions of this book, but my paperback version had a map of the school on the inside of the cover at both ends, which was also helpful – not to mention cute and quirky!
Let’s just touch upon the fact that this book has incredibly cute works of art of the characters / scenes at the beginning of each “book”. Some of you might be like – each book… what? Well, this book is split into a few different “books”, but it’s practically just a fancy chapter break. One thing I really liked about this book was the flow of it. I was constantly engaged and on the edge of my seat. There wasn’t a single part of this book that seemed to be lacking in lustre. I’d finish each chapter thinking – just one more chapter – no matter how late it was getting. Or should I say, early.
Okay, I think it’s time to talk about characters. *deep breath* *tries not to smile ridiculously* *fails* So first of all, Simon. Simon was just such a sweetie. What I loved most about him was that he wasn’t perfect. Yes, he may have been the “Chosen One”, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect. He was far from perfect, and that made me love him even more. He wasn’t particularly good at using magic sometimes, he wasn’t good at verbalising his feelings and he’d make mistakes with his friends, but that made him all the more endearing. What he was good at was never giving up and being determined to do the right thing. He was a beautiful character to follow and it was really interesting to get to know what happened to him in the past and what made him what he was. There was also an element of mystery surrounding that which made this novel all the more addictive. I desperately wanted to know what was really happening with him and the truth about his past. I had never guessed what was revealed, and that was the best feeling in the world. I love being surprised while reading, and that’s definitely what I got with this book. There were twists around every corner and each character had multiple dimensions to them. It was phenomenal.
Now Baz. How do I even begin to describe Baz? I liked Baz even more than Simon. Yes, he may have been a vampire. And yes, he did have urges to kill people. Maybe it’s just the hopeless teenage girl inside me that always falls for the vampire. There’s nothing more romantic than blood-sucking, stunningly attractive vampires, am I right? Vampire stuff aside, I just loved Baz’s personality. He could be sarcastic and unpredictable, but deep down, he was sweet and desperately wanted to find out the truth behind how his mother died and who was responsible. There was a massive change in his character from the beginning to the end. He became more empathetic and less cold as we got to know him. I loved learning about his past as well, and seeing what made him who he is today. His past was quite saddening and my heart broke for Baz. He was often misunderstood, and it honestly warmed my heart to see him finally being accepted for who he really is at the end of Carry On.
Agatha and Penelope were lovely characters to get to know. I enjoyed their part in the book, Penelope’s especially. I liked how Penelope was such a big part of Simon’s life and how they would spend so much time together. It was hilarious when Penelope complained about her roommate. She was such a lively, opinionated character and she was great to read about. Agatha was… different. I never really knew whether I liked her or not, but I tended to swing towards the latter. She seemed a little stuck up at points and she was rude to quite a few characters who I felt protective over. Nevertheless, all the secondary characters were really well-developed and fun to read about.
Finally – it’s time. Let’s discuss the romance between Simon and Baz. Their transition from enemies to friends to something more was one heck of a roller coaster to be on. There were certainly a lot of bumps in their relationship, but they always came back to the same underlying feelings. I knew that there was going to be romance between Simon and Baz because of Fangirl, but I didn’t predict it would be as cute and swoon-worthy as it was. Their first kiss was electrifying. That part of the book would definitely have to be my favourite. In this part, the book alternated between Simon and Baz’s point of view, which was useful and sweet to see. Each chapter had the point of view from one character and these characters would not just be the primary characters. In this moment especially, I loved how Rainbow could write from everyone’s point of view with it feeling realistic and honest.
The ending of this book, in my opinion, couldn’t have been done any better. I never predicted how it would end, well, except for one part, and it was happily surprising. I couldn’t be more thrilled with how this book turned out. It was definitely worth the wait. If you’ve read Fangirl, reading this book is a must. If you’re a fan of other Rainbow Rowell books, you’ll fall head-over-heels for this one too. Even if you’ve never heard of this book or of Rainbow’s other books, you can start with this one. Reading Fangirl definitely isn’t a necessity as you won’t feel left out of anything by reading this one first, but I definitely recommend reading both of those books regardless. I’d give Carry On by Rainbow Rowell a score of 10 out of 10. SO – have you read this book yet? Have you read any other books by Rainbow Rowell? Do you like the sound of this book? I’d love to know! 🙂
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!