Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Where do I even start?

Okay. Basically, this book is sort of fanfiction, but it's       fanfiction set in a world the author created. So it's just . . . fiction? I have no clue. Basically, Rainbow Rowell usually writes contemporary romance, but her last book, Fangirl, had a main character who wrote fanfiction for a Harry Potter-esque series called Simon Snow and the Mage's Heir, which is made up in our world but real in hers.

This is the fanfiction that character wrote. But Carry On released on October 6th LAST YEAR, and I am massively behind reading it, so you probably knew all that already. Shall I actually get down to reviewing?

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 sets 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 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.

A lot of people have said that this is effectively Potter fanfiction, but . . . eh . . . nah. It's definitely Potter-esque, it's definitely Potter-inspired, but Simon is not Harry, okay?! The magic is DIFFERENT. And yes, the beginning was tricky to get into, because the first chapter stank of Potter, but Carry On slowly, slowly carved out its own path and started to pull me along with it.

The only other reason I took a while to get into the gist was that it was written as if it was the seventh in a series. I suppose, for the first few pages or even chapters, I felt a little like I'd missed something - but that feeling went away very quickly and was probably just me being a controlling reader in the first place. In fact, I think the author did really well to squeeze most of the emotional investment of a epic series into one book.

So, now I've got my groaning out of the way, I can tell you all about the good things, and that's exciting, because there was a lot of amazingness and by the end I was tied up in knots. Namely:

I was really, really interested in the magic system. The Latin in Harry Potter always had its own mysterious quality, but Carry On's mages can speak magical phrases in any modern language: they usually speak English because it is the most widely-spoken, and 'Normals', or non-mages (ordinary folk like me who can't do magic) give phrases their power. If it's said often, it can do magic.

This was intriguing to me because I'm super into linguistics, and as Simon's headmaster - the Mage, but remember the capital M because otherwise he's just a mage - would say, "Language evolves. So should we." I like the idea of learning about word evolution.

If you managed to follow that nerdy language fangirling, congratulations. We should be linguistic buddies.

The other thing I absolutely adored about this book were the characters, particularly Penelope. You have no idea how much I adore Penny! She's smart but not a Hermione clone, absolutely sassy and condescending, mixed race but no-one cares, and rolls her eyes so much at Simon and Baz that I want to hug her.

And that brings me ever-so-neatly to Simon and Baz. Bimon? Saz? Either way, the ship is amazing and I love them individually, too. This passage basically sums up how unique Simon is as a chosen one:

I mean, a magical hero whose magic is utterly unpredictable and sucks at magical lessons? I've never heard of one of them before - and the conflict it causes is absolutely beautiful. Then there's Baz, who acts so tough . . . but I just want to hug him like a slightly spiky teddy bear. And his POV (Point of View) chapters were just my favourite.

Oh, wait. I loved Penny's too.

To sum up, you should read this book because it has well-imagined settings, amazingly-handled romance and characters anyone would have to squawk over. Yes, it's a bit slow at the beginning and fast at the end, but that isn't a big deal and you might not even notice it (I'm a super picky reader). Carry On is still a solid 4-Star read and I think you're going to love it.
In the comments: Have you read Carry On? Will you fangirl/boy about it with me? What about linguistics?

Okay, maybe that last one was too much to hope for. . . 
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