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Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow Paperback – 25 Feb 2016
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One of the most anticipated YA titles of the autumn . . . this will be a big one. (The Bookseller)
Rowell's magical world is finely drawn (Guardian)
Thrilling and sexy, funny and shocking, deeply moving and very, very magical. Trust me, you have never, ever seen a wizard school like this. (Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians)
The funny, wised-up dialogue, the tumultuous, sweet, and sexy love story is grade-A Rowell . . . a book that readers will find almost impossible to put down. (Publishers Weekly)
Full of heart and humor, this fantastical tale is a worthy addition to the wizarding school genre. (People Magazine)
Rainbow Rowell continues to break down boundaries with Carry On, an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestselling book, Fangirl.See all Product description
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One of the main problems of the YA genre as a whole is that it is often the case that GLBTQI+ characters are not often seen as the main protagonists. Actually, fiction as a whole has an issue with diversity, but let's focus on this one right now. Simple to say, this book does not have that problem. As it is based off of Cath from Fangirl's fan-fiction, the book is primarily about the development of a romantic relationship between characters Simon Snow - the worst Chosen One to ever be Chosen - and Baz Grimm-Pitch - clearly a vampire. There is also - as any good magical 'series' should have - a mystery to be solved, and a big evil to fight. And the twist on that big evil is so damn clever that I could not stop squeeing about it. Seriously, I think I annoyed the person I was talking to.
The characters are so memorable in this novel, it genuinely did feel like I was coming back to a set of characters that I had known for years. This was actually my first Rainbow Rowell novel, and I have been assured that this is a common thing of her books. Penelope may be one of my favourite ladies of all time, and I loved that the relationship between her and Simon was shown to be platonic love at it's best and that there wasn't even a question of them ever hooking up. When accused of disliking Simon's relationship with girlfriend Agatha, Penelope answers with a basic "it was making you both miserable" which is true. Speaking of Agatha, she's an interesting character. Rowell has succeeded in creating a character whom I hate, but at the same time I completely understand why she is doing the things she is, and I support her decisions and just want her to be happy in life. That is a special talent.
Simon and Baz are the focus of the novel and their characters are the most fully developed as well as the most fun to read about. I'd say it's especially fun to read Simon's point of view, and then to straight to Baz's, simply because of how wrongly Simon reads things. He may be the Chosen One, but he is an oblivious idiot. Which, actually, makes him the type of hero character I enjoy. I have a type. I do not see this as an issue.
I would love to say more about this novel, but I feel like even spoiling the smallest thing about it could completely ruin the experience for someone else. Needless to say, this is one that I think people should pick up. Especially if they liked the Harry Potter series. Rowell drops us into a world fully created, and yet we never feel lost or as if we're missing information. We run alongside the characters as their problems escalate at a rapid speed, and never feel as though the pacing is off. It's a slow build leading to an explosive finale, and I'm glad I read it.
...I really would love to read some of Simon Snow's other adventures too.
However, Carry On totally surprised me in the best way!
Although the inspiration is evident, Carry On is very much its own story. At the beginning it may be inevitable to draw comparisons between the characters and the places in Harry Potter and Carry On, but the more I read, the more I forgot about it and found the characters and story unique and utterly fascinating in their own right. The world building and magic system was also fascinating, - funny and ironic at times – and never felt underdeveloped.
I also loved that the story was told from different points of view - mainly Simon’s and Baz’s but also some secondary characters’. It worked really well with this kind of story and made me more invested in all the character. Baz was definitely my favourite, his point of view one of the most interesting. And I absolutely loved the romance!
Overall, Carry On was such an enjoyable and fun read!
It's incredibly readable and good fun. The characters are believable and relatable, and the plot is interesting (although a little too well-trailed for my tastes - each hint felt like it was bludgeoning me over the head).
So why just three stars? Well firstly, it absolutely piggy-backs on your existing knowledge of Harry Potter. The first few chapters are basically a lightning exposition-dump, saying "this is like HP, this isn't - get ready, story begins soon". To be clear, the characters and setting are original... but they're absolutely defined by their similarities and differences to HP.
Secondly, and I guess as a result of that... it never felt to me like a world in its own right. The whole experience just seemed that little bit less substantial, as if it was always going to be a be a brief jaunt and then over.
So, 3* as it won't stick with me. But for the brief time I read it, especially in the final two thirds of the book, I really enjoyed the characters' company. I'm glad I read it and I had a lot of fun and laughter.