Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: May 9th 2017
Length: 522 pages
Description from Goodreads:
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.
So a little backstory: the characters of Simon and Baz were first introduced in Rowell’s novel Fangirl, where the main character is writing fanfiction about the Simon Snow series, which was clearly a representation of Harry Potter in that world (I definitely recommend reading Fangirl too, btw, it’s great).
The book does not preface itself by explaining any of this, at least not on the Kindle version. Maybe the physical book indicates this on the back or on a sleeve, I don’t know. She does talk about it in the acknowledgements, but since that comes after the story, it doesn’t really feel like it counts?
Anyway, if I had not read Fangirl, I might not have realized what Rowell was going for. I wonder if I still would have enjoyed it as much going in blind, or if I would have been in the mindset that it was trying too hard to be like Harry Potter (a lot of reviews on Goodreads complain about this and I wonder if those people would have thought differently about it knowing a bit of the history behind this book).
Starting off, it definitely did give me some Harry Potter vibes, but the further I got into this book, the more I felt that it was unique enough on it’s own, even though it did pull its initial inspiration from Harry Potter and similar works. It still shares a lot of similarities, but there are also a lot of differences, which makes it feel as though I’m not just reading a Harry Potter rip-off, but rather something that drew some inspiration from Harry Potter to create a new story.
A few chapters in, I felt like I was trying to point out similarities to Harry Potter, but I soon realized that wasn’t fair and tried to refrain. Carry On is Carry On, not some HP fanfiction. It is its own story and I think it should be viewed that way.
This book starts off in Simon’s last year of school, which means the world is already established. I kind of liked this approach instead of having to learn about this world along with Simon, watch friendships be formed, etc. It’s interesting from the start.
Plus, we pretty much know who the main villain is from the start, so from the beginning the stakes are pretty high, which hooked me in from the start.
We get to jump right into the story with fleshed out characters. I pretty much loved all of the characters. The main friend group in this story is Simon, Baz, Penelope, and Agatha. I thought they were all super different from each other, which made their interactions really interesting.
Plus, Rowell is a fantastic writer and does a great job with character development. The story is told from multiple perspectives, which helps with that. Rowell did a great job of giving each character their own unique voice.
I really loved getting to explore Simon and Baz’s relationship. They are too damn cute. I’m the type of person who usually cringes at romance in books, but I loved it here so much. I could write an entire post about how much I love both Simon and Baz, but it would get kind of spoilery so I won’t do it here.
A few negatives: I was not a fan of how this book dealt with changing perspectives. I LOVED getting different perspectives, sometimes even within the same scene, but it did get confusing, especially in short chapters where as soon as I got used to who was talking, it would switch.
She also doesn’t really say who’s talking usually, which contributed to the confusion. There’s a lot of “he said/she said” rather than saying “Baz said” or “Simon said.” I would be sitting there in the middle of a chapter, stating at the page, hoping one of the characters would refer to the other by name so I could get myself back on track.
She also makes a lot of weird grammar choices, and I’m not really sure why since it doesn’t really add anything to the story other than annoy me since I reread a sentence three or four times like ‘does it really say this?’
Despite these issues I had, I’m still giving it 5/5 stars, which is super rare for me. The enjoyment I felt reading and the nostalgia I felt for reading a wizard school/chosen one story definitely outweighed the negatives for me.
Rainbow Rowell is working on a sequel, but it’s not expected to come out until 2020. I CAN’T WAIT THAT LONG.