Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

5 September 2019



Hello Readers & Friends,

I'm very happy to be writing a 4* review today for Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.
I had no clue what to make of this book at the start, and I really wasn't sure about picking it up. If I'm honest I did that annoying thing where I bought it because I really loved the cover.

So if anyone read FanGirl you may know about Carry On. FanGirl is basically by Rainbow Rowell and about a girl who writes fanfiction about a wizard called Simon Snow. And then Rowell went on to take the idea of Simon Snow and make him into a full-blown book called Carry On and here we all are today.

The blurb is as follows:

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.


Reasons I wasn't sure about it before starting:
- I read FanGirl and skipped all the excerpts about Simon Snow because I found them boring. I never like 'stories inside stories' - it's just a personal thing.
- I also skipped them because I hated the fact it was a parody of Harry Potter. HP is sacred and not something to twist for fan-fiction.

When I started it I really wasn't keen. The issue Rowell had was that she started the book in the middle of the action, meaning she had to spoon-feed us all as much information and backstory about the characters and world-building at the very start. The first few chapters are quite a jangled wordvomit of 'this person is this person and they've never gotten on with this person because of this and this happened one time and this happened two years ago as well' and I thought, God this is rubbish.

BUT, it was all worth it.

 


If you ever found yourself wondering, 'why didn't Harry Potter just magic himself clean?'
'Did Harry Potter eat curry?'
'Why don't they just magic themselves to London?'
'Why don't wizards drive or text it's just convenient?'
'What happens when spells go wrong?'
Then this is the book for you.

It takes every fantasy cliche and rips the piss out of it. It's nothing like Harry Potter. It's a hilarious almost-fantasy-parody with quick, witty and clever storytelling and world building. It does everything you don't expect it to, and everything that goes against traditional fantasy stories.
My particular favourite is the way that the spells aren't magic spells as such, but more famous idioms that are re-used. I really like how they study the evolvolution of language and create new spells from this.
(For example, U Can't Touch This is a spell to protect you, but only if the person you cast the spell on knows the MC Hammer song.  Sorry, but how funny and ingenious is that?!

So we have the main characters as follows:

Simon Snow, the hero and I guess to some extent, built off Harry Potter. The Chosen One who is essentially rubbish and can't get anything right. He's okay. He does his best but his best isn't good enough.

Baz, who is a Draco Malfoy. Simon's vampire roommate and arch nemesis. Baz is, quite frankly, great. I love him. He's miserable as sin, just like me.

Penny, the Hermione mirror. Simon's super smart sidekick. Also, she's Indian. So love that.

Agatha, the pathetic Simon Snow love interest who is beautiful but totally useless and annoying. (There had to be one classic YA cliche in there, after all.)

The Insidious Humdrum, who is the evil they must defeat. Have you ever heard of such a great name for an antagonist as The Insidous Humdrum? If this doesn't reflect what to expect from this book, I don't know what will. Also, the twist at the end with this was great. Just GREAT. 

It was all about self-acceptance and basically I just really, really enjoyed it. Oh, did I forget to mention? It's LGBT. Yep, you heard that right. And the romance was great. It was the first LGBT book I had read and I loved it. Wayward Son is out soon so I can't wait to continue this story :)

My only qualm is that Penny should have made the cover too. She was integral to everything and a total GirlBoss and I loved her.

Love,
C x
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