I bought this book from Books of Wonder when I came to NYC to look for an apartment last October. I knew nothing of the book, nothing of Fangirl… I didn’t even read my first Rainbow Rowell book until months later. But everyone was excited about this book, and I wasn’t going to pass up a signed copy.
I held off reading it until I had a better reference on Rainbow Rowell. I had read 2 of her books by the time I started this book, and I decided to read this book before Fangirl, as my friend kept talking about how much she loved it. 522 pages later, I’m a Simon+Baz ‘shipper.
by Rainbow Rowell
Published October 2015
Format: Hardback (Signed copy – whaaaaat)
Genre: Fantasy, YA, “Fanfiction”
Rating: 4.5/5 Moose
Simon Snow: chosen one. A 17-year-old boy destined to heal the magical community. Too bad he sucks at magic in a general sense. He can’t handle a wand, and he’s a bit like a boiling pot when his emotions get too much. And his roommate Baz (who Simon is convinced is evil and a vampire) won’t let him forget it.
Carry On is the final book in Simon Snow’s series, culminating in the final showdown against the Insidious Humdrum. As the boo says itself, it’s a ghost story, love story, mystery and melodrama. With lots and lots of monsters.
Simon Snow –
Harry Potter The Chosen One. He’s the first Normal, non-magical lieage person to have magic. He’s starting his last year at Watford, a magical school in the UK. He is a bit of a doof but good heart-ed and brave. He is blonde and thin, as he’s lived in and out of foster care his entire life. He is burdened with the idea that he is the chosen one, as he considers himself average at best.
Basilton “Baz” Pitch –
Draco Malfoy Baz is Simon’s roommate. He is missing at the beginning of the book, which causes Simon to obsess about where he is. He’s from one of the oldest and most prestigious families in the magic community – his mother was the former headmaster of Watford. It is suspected (by Simon) that Baz is a vampire. Simon and Baz have been mortal enemies since their first year.
Penelope “Penny” Bunce –
Hermione Granger Penny is another member of a prestigious family in the magical community. She is Simon’s first (and essentially only) friend. She is brilliant (Second best in the class after Baz), and stands by Simon constantly.
Agatha Wellbylove –
Ginny Weasley or Cho Chang Agatha is Simon’s girlfriend, just short of his finace honestly. She is a conflicted character, torn between her support for Simon and her desire for a normal life.
The Mage –
Dumbledore The headmaster who took over after Baz’s mother’s death. He is grumpy and dresses like Robin Hood.
Rants, Raves, and General Thoughts
Before I start, I am just going to say that I absolutely love fan fiction. Harry Potter, Arrow, and Divergent FF are currently on my ereader, and I also love crossovers. Hell, my Camp NaNoWriMo story was 20K words of fanfiction.
But I was a bit apprehensive about this book. I started it in December, but the first chapter turned me off a little bit. It has always bothered me that Fifty Shades of Grey is profiting as it is a Twilight fan fiction that just has names changes. So reading a novel that was, in my mind, essentially a Harry Potter fan fiction…I felt slightly hypocritical. Because really, the book read like a fan fiction of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
And the book, that theoretically read like it was number 7 or 8 in a series, had way too much explanation in it. I half appreciated it as I knew nothing about the series (duh), but it didn’t ring as realistic.
Reasons I was wrong:
1. I hadn’t read Fangirl yet. (though I have at the time of writing this.) Carry On is Cather’s fan fiction of the Simon Snow series, so it is another layer separate from Harry Potter.
2. About 100 pages into the book, I stopped thinking of Simon as Harry, Penny as Hermione, etc. I think this is because Baz finally enters the picture, and the story changes.
I really enjoyed the twist that Rowell puts on the magic world and the school. The students are required to learn how to do their clothes. Spells are based in common / popular phrases, rather than Latin. And (I’m probably in the minority on this) I think Agatha might be my favorite character. She’s suffocating from what’s expected of her, silently – she is a mage that doesn’t feel that having magic is a benefit. She doesn’t want to be Simon’s prize, and while she cares for Simon, she doesn’t care enough to lay down her life. She was the character in the book that I feel like most background characters feel like: this idiot!boy is going to get me killed, and all I want to do is graduate and get away.
I love that you get a sense that The Mage isn’t purely a good, fatherly figure. I wasn’t sure how much we were supposed to love and trust him (or see him as Dumbledore), so when he first shows up in the book, I thought the villain was wearing his face. He’s probably a complicated character in the series. I think I would have liked to see more of him, though we do get a good bit of his character in this book.
And the bromance. I almost didn’t write about the romance! Simon and Baz are adorable. I like reading the start of their relationship from both view points. It made me want a mortal enemy that might secretly be in love with me.
When I finished this book, I originally gave it 4 moose. I enjoyed it, but wasn’t as girly over it as everyone else I had read seemed to be. I immediately read Fangirl after, and reading that added an extra .5 moose to my review. But seriously – I love Fangirl more. I’ll review it tonight or this weekend of course!
If you love Harry Potter and its fan fiction, read this book. If you like urban fantasy books with a cute love story between the monsters and vampires, read this book.