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.