Title: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: YA – Urban Fantasy
Published by: Macmillan Children’s Book
Synopsis on Goodreads:
“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.”
Easily one of my favourite reads of the year so far. It was full of charm, many laugh-out-loud moments and essentially was just a really fun and light-hearted read.
For some reason, I was put off reading this one for quite a while even though I thoroughly enjoyed the Simon Snow parts in Fangirl. I think that has a lot to do with the beginning of the novel. Every time I thought about reading Carry On and read the first few pages I just wasn’t sucked in enough. And I’m the type of reader that likes to be instantly grabbed by the first few lines. But when I tried to read it this time around, I made myself continue on and, after about three or four chapters, I was completely sold on the story – even if it did drag a wee bit in the beginning.
The humour of Carry On was absolutely my cup of tea. I cracked up so many times whilst reading this and I think that had a lot to do with how British the book felt. British humour will always be my absolute favourite kind of humour and yes, I am being very biased here!
Rowell did an amazing job with making it feel like a British story and it felt like she really took the time to understand all of the details of the culture, however insignificant they may seem to non-British folk. I was very impressed with Rowell in this regard. I’ve read a lot of books where authors put in a British character and have no clue what that changes about them. The author will just throw in words like ‘bloody’ or ‘mate’ and hope for the best, without realising how ignorant they’re being of an entire population of people. Rowell, however, doesn’t fall into that trap and recognises the fact that, just because we share the same language and are quite similar in a lot of aspects, we are not entirely the same. Us Brits are a very proud people (and a very strange people!) and we have certain ways of saying things or going about things or thinking about things that ties into our weird and wonderful culture that we love and is very important to each and every one of us. So a round of applause for Rowell for mastering the British culture!
The magic system in general was so creative and cool and you could tell when you were reading it that Rowell had a lot of fun breathing life into this world. And as a result I had a lot of fun, too. Sometimes I don’t want to feel emotionally drained by a book (as much as I like it most of the time!) and sometimes I just want to laugh, have a great time and just read something that doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is definitely that book.
The spells in particular were a favourite of mine. Such as:
Some like it hot!
Scooby-Dooby-Doo, where are you?
U can’t touch this!
Have a break, have a Kit-Kat!
The characters were wonderful, too. Simon and Baz I really loved but Penelope I adored. Basically, she’s me 😂 But seriously, we have the exact same thought-processes and she’s one of the most relatable characters I’ve read about. I picked out a few of my favourite one-liners from/about her:
Penny: “You have too many friends… There are only so many hours in the day, Simon. Two, three people – that’s all any of us have time for.”
Simon: Penny says she’d like the Mage’s Men better if there were a few women among them.
Penny: “Why do all the gingerbread girls have to wear pink?”
Agatha: “Why should the gingerbread girls feel like they shouldn’t wear pink? I like pink.”
Penny: “Only because you’ve been conditioned to like it by Barbies and gendered lego.”
So my kind of girl. She’s basically a no-nonsense, headstrong, badass feminist who is also incredibly loyal and caring, too. Honestly, we need more Penelope’s in YA fiction. She was so refreshing. I liked so much that she didn’t put up with anyone’s bullshit and that she’d always voice her opinion. I also really liked that she had her own strengths, too, and that she was really valued by her friends. The Watford gang definitely wouldn’t have gotten by without her intellect or her wits. Or her unflinching loyalty, for that matter.
The relationship between Simon and Penny was what kept me reading through those initially boring chapters at the beginning of the novel. Through Simon’s viewpoint you could really see just how much he appreciated Penny. He was always thinking about what she thought of things and the kinds of things she would say and I could really feel how much he valued Penny. Their friendship was based on a deep sense of mutual respect and love and that definitely felt to me to be one of the most compelling elements of the story.
Baz, obviously, was the perfect character. He’s one of those characters where you just love everything they say and who you’re quite jealous of and you wish you could be as quick-witted and as on-the-ball as they are. He was snarky as hell and always made light of a situation which I really appreciated. It’s a pet-peeve of mine when characters never ever laugh or crack a smile. Life’s too short! Lighten up! Stop being so darn unlikable! 😂 But Baz, thankfully, had a comeback for everything, no matter the seriousness of the situation.
BRIEF SPOILER SECTION – TEMPORARILY AVERT EYES
Okay so the only thing I wanted to discuss that had anything to do with spoilers was, of course, THE ROMANCE 😍 Oh, it was adorable. I ship Simon and Baz so hard. And I love that their ship name is Saz. Cracks me up. Purely because it sounds a bit like sass and it rhymes with pizazz 😂 Anyway, I definitely feel like Saz are on par with Simon and Blue from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda for cutest couple award. I just wish (rather selfishly) that we had more romance in Carry On. I need more of them together. I definitely have a newfound understanding for Cath from Fangirl – I totally get why she shipped Simon and Baz as much as she did. Girl, I feel you. I really do. Particularly when this happened:
Baz: Simon Snow is alive. And I’m hopelessly in love with him.
At which point I squealed with delight and hugged the book. And then I got to chapter 61. And all my dreams came true. It was so perfect. I had such a ridiculous grin on my face. And I had butterflies in my stomach and I was just so happy. *Sighs contentedly* Definitely one of my new favourite book couples.
BACK TO NON-SPOILER SECTION
The plot itself was fun and mysterious and interesting enough to keep your eyes glued to the pages.It definitely wasn’t the most complex or unpredictable urban-fantasy plot I’ve read but, that being said, I don’t think those were Rowell’s intentions and that fact didn’t lessen the enjoyment of the novel for me. If you go in expecting a fun, charming read, then you definitely will not be disappointed.
All in all another brilliant book from Rowell (who is fast becoming one of my most-beloved authors). I would love for her to write more stories in the Simon Snow world and I would happily devour each an every one of them. But I won’t be terribly disappointed if she leaves the story here. I could always write my own Simon and Baz fan-fiction!