Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
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, 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.
I’m still not sure how I feel about Carry On. It was … quite different from what I was expecting. Sort of. It also sort of wasn’t. As always, I adore the way Rainbow Rowell writes romance. It’s like we’re soul mates or something. But I’m not sure I like the way she writes fantasy.
Warning, semi-spoilery, because I figure if you’re reading this review you more or less know what this story is about. Okay then.
I’ve never read enemies-to-lovers written quite so intense before. Like, one second I want to literally kill you, and the next second I’m kissing you. INTENSE. I also don’t know that I’ve ever read it so convincing. It’s not this slow “I stop hating you because we’re forced to spend time together” thing that you usually get. It’s a sudden realization that I’ve always been obsessed with you, and maybe I didn’t understand why.
I also loved that she wrote two characters who were in different places regarding their sexuality. Baz is pretty confidently gay, even if nobody outside of his family really knows about it. But Simon thinks he likes girls. His attraction to Baz confuses him, and he doesn’t know if it makes him gay, or bi, or what. I think there are a lot of teens like Simon, just trying to make sense of their feelings.
The blurb says “as much kissing and talking as you’d expect”, which made me laugh because this book is basically nothing BUT talking and kissing. Which, I think, is the main thing I didn’t like about the fantasy aspect. The world building was all there, but the adventure wasn’t. She hints that the characters have gone on these grand adventures in the past, every year, even. But this year the adventure is literally them writing what they know and don’t on a chalkboard. More than once. For the supposed finale of a Harry Potter-eque 8 book fantasy series, I guess I would have preferred more quests.
I’m also not crazy about how many points of view were present. It’s mainly written from Simon and Baz’s POV, and the occasional chapters from the ghost were suuuuuper interesting because by the end of the novel you know more than the characters do, which is pretty unique. But I didn’t like the random chapters from everyone else’s perspective. Even Penny, the best friend, felt unnecessary to me.
It’s weird, because this is the first Rainbow Rowell book I haven’t been completely obsessed with. Honestly, I was nervous to read it, because it didn’t sound like something I would like. But it turns out that the things I didn’t care for were completely different than the things I was worried I wouldn’t like.
In the end, the way Rainbow’s books make me feel won out. I devoured this book in about 48 hours, and like I always feel when I’m done with one of hers I want MORE. I love her writing, and I love her characters. And nobody writes PG-13 kissing like Rainbow does. *swoons*