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 sets 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.
Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story, and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.
I wanted to try to collect my thoughts before writing up this review but then we might be waiting weeks because I don’t think I’ll be able to calm down for another month at least. I honestly have no idea why I loved this book so much but it had so many great elements that I loved, including a swoon-worthy romance. MY HEART. BE STILL. This will probably just be a fangirly rant more than a review, but we have an exciting Carry On post planned over at Happy Indulgence, where Jeann, Aila and I will all discuss our feelings!
Carry On is Rainbow Rowell’s take on the Simon Snow series that was introduced in Fangirl. It’s important to note that this isn’t Cath’s Simon Snow fanfiction and it’s also not the ‘canon’ Simon Snow either, so you absolutely don’t need to read Fangirl before reading Carry On! I have to admit that the Simon Snow sections in Fangirl were actually my least favourite bits in that novel and I only skimmed quickly through those parts, because I wanted to get back to Cath and Levi’s story. But even though I didn’t love Simon and Baz (or didn’t read enough to love them) in Fangirl, I’m a total convert and they might even be my OTP of the year (big call, I know, considering I’ve read 175 books so far this year). And I’m probably now going to reread Cath’s SnowBaz fanfiction because I need more!
This is a fantasy story that almost reads like a contemporary. It’s set in our modern world and there are lots of pop culture references and things that I could relate to. It just felt like a very contemporary and fresh take on fantasy. There are lots of great messages about diversity right from the beginning and I really appreciated that.
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.”
I absolutely loved the world in this book. Initially, I drew lots of Harry Potter parallels but I soon started forgetting about Harry Potter because the Simon Snow world is so different and fascinating. I also didn’t mind its similarities to Harry Potter either, because it gave me something to latch on to at the beginning when the story was a little bit slow. Most of the world building happens during the first section of the book and even though nothing much happens plotwise, I had a great time learning about the world and the magic system. I thought the concept behind the magic system was wonderful – that the words they use are so important. I absolutely loved the magic spells that they used and that they can create new spells by putting conviction and magic into random phrases.
Down in the winding tunnels of the Catacombs, I use every revealing spell I know, and every finding spell. (“Come out, come out, wherever you are! It’s show time! Scooby-Dooby-Doo, where are you!“)
Magic words are tricky. Sometimes to reveal something hidden, you have to use the language of the time it was stashed away. And sometimes an old phrase stops working when the rest of the world is sick of saying it.
My favourite aspect of Carry On were definitely the characters. I’ve read all of Rainbow’s books, except Eleanor and Park, and I’m always astounded by how wonderful and relatable her characters are. I was obsessed with Baz from pretty much the very first mention of him. It’s no secret that Draco Malfoy is my favourite Harry Potter character and Tyrannus Basilton Grimm-Pitch is the rich, snobby, sneering Simon Snow equivalent. I loved him so, so much and he didn’t even make an appearance until Part 2 of the novel! I feel like I spent the first part of the book waiting for Baz and when he did finally appear, it was glorious.
I also loved Simon and his voice really carried through and affected me a lot. He was so sassy and snarky. I loved him! He’s been given this massive burden and he just wants to help, but most of the time he just ends up destroying everything in his vicinity. He’s a bit of a disaster but he’s the most adorable and funny disaster ever. I loved his relationship with Baz (of course) and I wish we’d gotten to see them together a lot sooner because I need so much more SnowBaz T_T. Every single moment they were together, my heart was being squeezed in my chest and I was flailing around on my bed. I felt like I was falling in love right there with them. I also really enjoyed Simon’s relationship with his best friend, Penny. She was very supportive of him and always had his back and I loved reading about their friendship. The only character that I did not like at all was Agatha and I wished that she wasn’t in the book at all. But we can’t always have what we want, and we’ve been given so much SnowBaz that I really can’t complain. Except I want another SnowBaz novel… it doesn’t even need to have a plot. I just want to fangirl over them a little bit more.
I thought the plot of the book was amazing. Carry On kept me theorising about what was going to happen next throughout the whole book. There are definitely some things that we’ve seen before in fantasy novels but everything worked so well together that I didn’t mind at all. Plus there were so many surprising and hilarious moments and I loved every single one of those. This book just blew my mind and exceeded all of my expectations. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!
Don’t forget to check out Happy Indulgence on Friday for more thoughts on Carry On! And if you want to discuss SnowBaz or anything spoilery, hit me up on Twitter because I could talk about this book all day!