Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.
Alright. I went into this with a little bit of trepidation. I absolutely loved Fangirl, I loved Rowell’s writing, and like I said before, I didn’t mind the fan fiction aspect of the novel. It was a cute little addition. So when I discovered that Rowell’s next novel was an entire book dedicated to Simon Snow, I was a little bit unnerved. Sure, I liked the direction Cath took with the fictional characters of the fictional ‘Simon Snow’ universe, but I didn’t know how it would carry in a novel. But I read it anyway, out of curiosity more than anything else. And holy smoking crackers, I LOVED IT.
Where to start?
First off, a little bit of background about me. I am an absolutely hopeless romantic. There. I said it. And when I say hopeless romantic, I mean the kind that faints at the slightest hint of romance in any book, film, picture, you name it. I don’t care who the people/ fictional people are, their race, orientation, or backgrounds. I just love romance between two people, for romance’s sake. Now you know.
The second thing I love more than anything (this will be mentioned in a Top5s somewhere down the line) is a good love-hate relationship. The kind where two people spend so much energy hating each they don’t even realise the moment they started falling in love. You see? I’m hopeless. And yes, this book has both of these things. Do you know what it did to me? Exhibit A:
WHAT I LOVED:
The characters. Simon Snow is a useless Chosen One. The magician that must stop evil at its source, except for the fact that he can barely summon a spell. Baz is an in-denial vampire/magician who scoffs at the world. And yes, they are roommates. And yes, they despise each other. The story picks up in their final year at school, so as a standalone novel it skips a lot of potential world-building. But that really ends up not mattering a bit. Because this story isn’t just a build up for a grand magical battle. This story, first and foremost, is a story about love.
“What you are is a fucking tragedy, Simon Snow. You literally couldn’t be a bigger mess.”
He tries to kiss me, but I pull back- “And you like that?”
“I love it.” He says.
“Because we match.”
This story has been compared to Harry Potter, and I agree. I always presumed this was supposed to be the Harry Potter of the Fangirl universe. And there are some similarities, but not any I minded. It felt like a parody, a comedy almost. It was hilarious. Witty, sarcastic, with great characters and, dare I say it? Romance.
I also quite liked the fact that the book was in the LGBTQ+ category. It was nice reading about two non-straight characters (or one definitely gay character and one seriously unsure but presumably bisexual character?) because I really don’t feel that there is enough representation of LGBTQ+ characters. And I liked that they weren’t stereotypes. It was really lovely watching their relationship grow as they realised that their feelings for each other outweighed their hatred for each other. It didn’t feel forced at all. And that’s a pretty big accomplishment, given that we’re introduced to these characters, their background and relationship, in just one novel.
A final point. I really liked the writing. Not because it was complex, because it wasn’t. It was actually quite simple, but it captured the characters’ voices perfectly and it wasn’t pretentious. The story follows a couple of teenage magicians, and it read like that. The writing was a little mature in nature, with plenty of swearing. And you know what? I liked that. Because teens swear. It felt so much more realistic and it was so refreshing, reading about teens thinking and talking like teens. The romantic scenes didn’t sugercoat anything either. You know what it said when the characters kissed? It said the characters fricking kissed. They touched. There was no flowery evasiveness. And it was so refreshing.
So if you found yourself even mildly interested in the Simon Snow story, read this book. If you liked Fangirl but didn’t really care for this, yet you like Rowell as an author, read this book. If you’re not interested in Simon Snow at all but you’re a sucker for romance, my GOD read this book right now. What are you even doing? Why are you not reading this book? Why?! Go do it right now! You’re missing the romance!
5/5 stars on Goodreads, for being a purely enjoyable read.
P.S. The magical conflict in the novel is pretty cool too. You might notice it more than I did, because I was too busy flicking back to interactions between Simon and Baz and fangirling. Hard.