Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (October 2015)
Author’s Info: rainbowrowell.com
Wendy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Reading and/or writing fanfic is a fangirl/boy rite of passage and it’s the tie that binds Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl together. As the main character of that story made her way through the trials and tribulations of family life, relationships, and her first year at college, it’s Cath’s fanfic that helps her through it all, with each chapter starting with an excerpt from “Carry On.” Those little excerpts offered glimpses in a fascinating Harry Potter-esque world that is now the main focus of this new book.
I enjoyed the Harry Potter series, but it’s not my fandom of preference. There are many things about the series that trouble me, more so because Rowling never really addresses them. Carry On is not only an excellent story in its own right, it serves as a very creatively powerful analysis of those problematic areas in Harry Potter. At the top of the list is the real villain of the story, Dumbledore. His character is known simply as The Mage in Carry On and he is the orchestrator of all things.
Carry On stars Simon Snow as the proverbial Chosen One who, unlike Harry, actually is a powerful mage himself. Also unlike Harry, he is not the centre of this story. Well, he *is*, but the other characters get their fair share of attention with chapters told from many different points of view that remind us of how important each and every character is — even the minor ones — within Simon’s story and as part of the mysteries and the great mage family war that threatens. Rowell explores their feelings and their opinions on Simon and the situation through dialogue and descriptions that are always on fire.
Carry On takes place during Simon’s last year at school, yet Rowell so easily paints a moving image of Simon’s life and all the elements surrounding it — past, present, and future — all in a single book. Of course I’d like to read more about his battle with the Chimera, or their kidnapping and other encounters with the Insidious Humdrum – the great evil that haunts them wearing Simon’s face. Yet when Rowell tosses out these encounters through conversations and recollections, I don’t feel at a loss for not having read them fully. Rowell has managed to wrap so much in a single book through crisp and pithy writing that is often funny, endearing, and powerful.
What would fanfic be without some hot and heavy romance? Harry’s relationships were always so meh to me, but once again, Rowell brings the fire in true fanfic style by forcing Simon to bunk with his mortal enemy, Baz, a vampire who, on the first day back at Watford School of Magicks, does the unthinkable: Baz does not show up, leaving Simon to fear the moment when Baz will leap out from a corner and attack. But is there more to these feelings? OF COURSE THERE IS and that’s really what we’re here for right? Because just look at that gorgeous cover. unf.