Review: Carry On
Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor 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 hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll 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 to relax and savor anything.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.
Rainbow Rowell, let me love you. Goodness gacious. I have such an author!crush you don’t even know. Do I want to be friends with her or do I just want to be her. I don’t know. I just know that actually she can do no wrong. HOW DOES SHE WORDS.
“He’s a book full of footnotes brought to life. He’s a jacket made of elbow patches."
How. Does. She. Words.
In case you missed my prior Rainbow love-ins, I talk about Eleanor & Park here and about Fangirl here. I’ll also be back soon to talk about Landline soon. Right now though, you guessed it (and pull up a seat and flail with me, or if you don’t like Rainbow’s other stuff then you know, don’t because this book is so Rainbow Rowell) I’m talking about Carry On and how it delighted me from start to finish. Seriously. Delighted me. & if you stop here often you’ll know that occasionally I lose all coherency and just shout a little about how much I love a thing. I’m about to do that right now. Sorry not sorry.
I out and out cackled when I found out that Carry On was going to be a thing. I mean a book that originally existed as a fictional book in one of Rainbow’s other books about a girl that writes fanfiction and that is clearly a tongue in cheek look at the whole fanfiction world in general and specifically (or so I thought anyway) the whole Harry/Draco fandom becoming it’s own actual hard-backed fully fleshed story. WHY WOULD YOU NOT WANT TO READ THAT and how gloriously excellent and amusing is it that Rainbow Rowell made it happen.
GIVE ME ALL THE WONDERFUL META.
Also: insane. This book is fucking nuts I swear and it’s brilliant. It’s like Harry Potter gone batshit crazy and at the same time it’s….I mean you start off comparing to HP a little because it’s a book about a magical school and a war against a Big Bad and this one student that’s The Chosen One even though he doesn’t want to be really, and is sometimes a little bit shit at well, life, so how can you not.
(Just when you think you're having a scene without Simon, he drops in to remind you that everyone else is a supporting character in his catastrophe.)
Ha ha and also ha.
Pretty soon though you forget the whole Potter thing because there is so much going on here, this whole brand new world, these brand new characters, and whilst you still totally gigglesnort a little at the occasional tip-of-the-hat you mostly just get totally swept away in the Watford of it all, in Simon and Baz and spells that reference Bohemian freaking Rhapsody and the fact that it’s so gay.
And also marvellously diverse in the way that all Rainbow’s books are and everybody else’s books should be. Example one, because I’m nice like that
“I didn’t know someone like you could be named Penelope,” I said. Stupidly. (Everything I said that year was stupid.)
She wrinkled her nose. “What should ‘someone like me’ be named?”
“I don’t know.” I didn’t know. Other girls I’d met who looked like her were named Saanvi or Aditi—and they definitely weren’t ginger. “Saanvi?”
“Someone like me can be named anything,” Penelope said.
“Oh,” I said. “Right, sorry.”
“And we can do whatever we want with our hair.” She turned back to the assignment, flipping her red ponytail. “It’s impolite to stare, you know, even at your friends.”
Also. Baz and Simon.
Everyone knows that hate/love is an excellent trope, right? I mean it’s where the whole Harry/Draco ship stemmed from isn’t it. & it goes back so much further than that. Let’s make a list of the great love stories that stem from this trope. Or let’s not because ain’t nobody got time for that. Point is, I love that trope & this book, it’s the stuff dreams are made of I swear to God. Rainbow takes all that tension and all those misunderstandings and all that anger and all the shitty spiteful comments and makes it all her own and THEN THE CUTE BOYS DO KISSING. & obviously you know there’s something there because Cath ships Baz/Simon in Fangirl with the fire on a hundred burning suns and it would have been weird for that not to have been a thing here but I didn’t know how subtle a thing it might be (partly because Baz and Simon aren't canon in Fangirl), how much reading between the lines one might have to do *coughRemus/Siriuscough* but, well, nope not subtle at all and it makes me hope for a world where LGBTQ characters are so common a thing in books that it goes without saying.anyway, both boys are excellent in their own right and they're gorgeous together and I swear nobody writes falling in love, being in love, love like Rainbow Rowell. I said it about E&P (and I am still not over that) and I said it again when I read Fangirl and I say it again now: she just gets it and wow can she carve a sentence from your very heart.
Sharing a room with the person you want most is like sharing a room with an open fire.
He's constantly drawing you in. And you're constantly stepping too close. And you know it's not good--that there is no good--that there's absolutely nothing that can ever come of it.
But you do it anyway.
Well. Then you burn.
He's still looking in my eyes. Staring me down like he did that dragon, chin tilted and locked. "I'm not the Chosen One," he says.
I meet his gaze and sneer. My arm is a steel band around his waist. "I choose you," I say. "Simon Snow, I choose you.
Also. This book is funny. . And also also there is dialogue like this:
“I can’t believe there’s a part of your body that grows when you need it. You’re like a mutant.”
“I’m a vampire,” Baz says, “and can you hear yourself?”
She told me later that her parents had told her to steer clear of me at school.
"My mum said that nobody really knew where you came from. And that you might be dangerous." "Why didn't you listen to her?" I asked.
"Because nobody knew where you came from, Simon! And you might be dangerous!"
"You have the worst survival instincts."
"Also, I felt sorry for you," she said. "You were holding your wand backwards.
& does Rainbow Rowell have a professional Brit-picker because for the most part this book is so gloriously British and I loved that.
I want, I WANT, I want the other 7 books. I’m not going to lie; I would read every single moment of Simon and Baz’s school experience in the same way I read Harry’s. ALL THE FEELS. One book was not enough even though it’s a long and very pretty book. & holy smokes is it pretty.