Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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WARNING: “Book review” is a bit of a misnomer for what follows. My reaction to this book is basically *FLAILS AROUND IN FANGIRL ECSTASY*

Alright. Time to calm down and do this.

Carry On is a companion piece, of sorts, to Rainbow Rowell’s 2013 book Fangirl. Cath, the protagonist of Fangirl, was obsessed with the made-up, Harry Potter-esque Simon Snow Series by Gemma T. Leslie. Rowell works the series into the book, using excerpts from the Simon Snow novels, Simon Snow fan fiction, and even a Simon Snow wikipedia entry to build Cath’s world. While I really liked Fangirl, I actually found the Simon Snow elements the least engaging part of the book. When I heard Rowell would be writing a book featuring Simon and Baz, my response was a big ol’ shrug. I didn’t find Simon and Baz all that interesting. My days of reading fan fiction are in the past. I just really didn’t think I needed this book.

Little did I know…I NEEDED THIS BOOK SO BAD. Carry On is the story of Simon Snow’s last year at the Watford School of Magicks. He’s got a lot on his plate: fighting the Insidious Humdrum, a mysterious creature draining the world of magic; relationship troubles with his girlfriend Agatha; and his arch-nemesis roommate Baz. What follows plot-wise is somewhat predictable, very competent Harry Potter fan fiction. There are some fun twists on the Harry Potter universe–Penelope Bunce (Hermione) is mixed-race (which is a totally legit per Rowling); Baz (Draco) is a vampire; Eb (Hagrid) is super powerful; spells all come from common sayings, cliches, song lyrics (the title is from Bohemian Rhapsody!); and the line between good and bad gets pretty blurry. It’s all good fun, but this is not why I flailed.

Why did I find myself literally squeeing in my car while listening to the audiobook? Because Carry On is not canon–the real last book in the series, according to the made-up wikipedia article is Simon Snow and the Eighth Dance–and we get the Simon/Baz pairing that we all deserved. THERE’S JUST SO MUCH ANGST AND YEARNING AND TENSION AND FIGHTING AND MAKING OUT AND NOW I’M CAPSTYPING AND I CAN’T HELP IT! AND THE AUDIOBOOK IS SO GOOD!! AND RAINBOW ROWELL LIKED MY TWEET ABOUT IT!

Sorry about that. I told you this wouldn’t be much of a review. I just enjoyed the hell out of this book. There are certainly flaws: the pacing is a little off; it’d be great to have a female character who isn’t an accessory; there’s a weird refusal to identify Simon as bisexual; and the world building relies a bit too much on reader knowledge of Harry Potter. Don’t care. This book helped me remember the thrill of being a fan and how great fan fiction can tap into that excitement and joy.

5/5 stars. Because I am a shameless, unrepentant Harry Potter fangirl.

Now I’m off to ponder a 2016 Harry Potter re-read.

2 comments

  1. Oh my goodness I loved this book too!!!!! I absolutely adored how Carry On was so self aware and managed to both parody HP and pay homage to it!! Couldn’t have been happier with this book! (And Rainbow Rowell liked my tweet about it too *squeals*)

    Liked by 1 person

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