Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Series: Simon Snow, Book 1
Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: Reprint edition – May 9, 2017
Paperback, 529 pages
Amazon  Goodreads

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 starts 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.

Rating: 5 stars

Goodreads needs a supernova exploding stats rating. 5 stars is not anywhere near enough stars for this book.

I started this book and I was like “Ughhhhh I don’t know about this…” Told my BBF (Best Book Friend) about and my summary was so far it’s basically a sort of spoof on Harry Potter. There’s the Chosen One, Simon Snow, an orphan raised by Normals (muggles) who is crazy stupid powerful and has some sort of link to the Bad Guy, the Insidious Humdrum (He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named). Then you have Simon’s best friend Penelope who is the smartest witch/mage/whatever in school (who somehow manages to be very Ron & Hermione at the same time), his sort of stick-in-the-mud girlfriend Agatha (who has Hermione’s more tattle-tale characteristics), his nemesis/roommate Baz who is from an old mage Family (pureblood), beautiful and cold, and a vampire to boot (lookin’ at you, Draco)… They’re in their final (8th) year of magic school, and there are casual mentions of all the dangerous adventures Simon and Penelope have gotten into in their previous years, with the head of the magic school The Mage aware of and casually throwing them into danger (Oh, Dumbledore… You horrible, horrible warden of young children.) Anyway, point being I was like “Oh, this is just Harry Potter fanfic that is trying to not get sued by J.K. Rowling.”

Wrong. So very wrong.

Carry On is a look at Chosen One tropes and it sets them up and knocks them down again, twisting them, flipping them on their heads, and/or pointing out how ridiculous many of them are. Simon is a Gryffindor to his core, rushing in without thinking and punching things that he sees as evil/bad/a threat. I LOVE Baz. Baz 4ever. This book is told in the first person present tense and switches off between the POV of several different characters, including Simon, Baz, Penelope, Agatha, The Mage, and a (ghost?) named Lucy, as well as a few other side characters with some very short bits of input. The Lucy chapters really help the reader piece together what happened and the overall story. I love getting the inside look inside each of these characters, because the reader gets to see motivations and drive that they otherwise wouldn’t get with a single or even dual first person POV perspective.

This book is a big bowl of vanilla ice cream with those fudge-filled chocolate stars, chunks of peanut butter cups, and a fudge ribbon. I gobbled it all up and then licked the bowl.

My ONE major problem with this is the bi-erasure happening. If you are into girls, and then are also into boys, that does not mean you were straight and now you are gay. Being bi is a thing, and it’s a VALID thing, and I just wish Rowell had straight up said that the character in question is bi. I’m going to be so crabby if the sequel comes out and he’s just “Gay For You” because that trope is stupid and awful.

There will be another book in the series coming out in 2020, but Carry On is definitely a complete book in and of itself, with a full storyline that comes to a very definite conclusion. And I’m calling it a romance because it has an HEA/HFN, so neener neener. The sequel will be called Wayward Son and Baz and Simon totally look like Sam and Dean on the cover, and it makes me wonder if Supernatural will be the next fandom to get Rowell’s spoof/parody treatment. …I kind of can’t wait.

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

  1. I enjoyed this book a lot, with two big Buts: the ending felt weird to me (I can't remember very well because it's been a while, but I think it was about it not being tight enough, like they could've done a better job with the resolution or something); and the second and most important: the Bi erasure. The character reactions were mostly understandable, people think and behave like that, but Rowell did nothing with her narrative to point out that the were wrong. Know what I mean? It felt like she was validating those opinions, and thus INvalidating bisexuality (and I'm using it as an umbrella for bi/poli/pan sexualities, it wasn't *just* Bi people) which as a bonus is what I happen to identofy as.So I'm really wishing she fixes that in her sequel, because if she doesn't it would turn what seemed an honest mistake (in an otherwise delightful book) into a deliberate (and horrifying) message.


  2. I 100% agree on the bi/poli/pan erasure happening in Carry On, and I also hope it's addressed in Wayward Son. For me, the ending to me felt like it was sort on in-transition, settling from this dramatic movie (ala Harry Potter) into a TV sitcom or something.


  3. I quite enjoyed this book too Elley! I didn't know it was getting a sequel! It felt totally complete to me too. i hope its a spoof of Supernatural, that would be most excellent! Great review. ❤️


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