I take back every negative thing I have ever thought or said about Simon Snow.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is canon fanfiction. That in itself should capture your interest. As she explains in an author’s note, Carry On is not part of the book series featured in Fangirl, nor is it Cath’s fanfiction based on the book series. It is Rowell’s version of these characters, and what she ultimately calls “canon.”
Confusing? Maybe. Cool? Obviously.
If you’ve read Fangirl, then you already know the characters (to a degree) and some basic plot points (which I won’t spoil here). Honestly, the entire reason I read Fangirl was because I wanted to read Carry On (and because my friend Joy kept bugging me about it), but you don’t need to read it to enjoy this novel. I liked Fangirl (you can read my thoughts about it here) but I LOVED Carry On.
Okay, sure, Carry On is similar to Harry Potter. But any book about wizards and magic, especially magic schools, is going to be compared to Harry Potter for at least the next 40 years. So yes, they share a lot of similarities, but they are also extremely different and unique in their own right. In fact, a lot of the aspects ignored or brushed over in Harry Potter are explained in ways that make sense in Carry On (such as technology– really, how can the wizards know absolutely nothing about “Muggle” technology?! Carry On explains this by stating that no, wizards live among “Normals” because Normals are actually the source of their powers. Cool, right?). Carry On also shares a lot of similar character types with Harry Potter but each character is still different and unique enough to stand on their own.
Which brings us to Baz and Simon.
I cannot get enough of these boys. Baz and Simon are obsessed with each other. The novel for the first half or so leaves it up to the reader to determine what the obsession is really about, and whether it’s a good obsession or not. If you’ve read Fangirl (or even if you haven’t), then you can definitely pick up on a homoerotic subtext that really isn’t a subtext at all. Will they? Won’t they? Are we reading too into this? Are we just seeing the gay aspect because we’ve seen Simon and Baz through Cath’s eyes already? I’ll leave this for you to discover.
The book leaves you hanging as it sets all the pieces in front of you, but doesn’t connect them until the very end. It’s delicious in that way, but it can also be frustrating (especially with the two boys mentioned above). But frustrating doesn’t have to be bad. I sent many a message to my friend, yelling at her because of how the characters were acting, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love every second of it.
My only complaint, and it is a small one, is the prose style. I didn’t like all the first person narrators (although only 3 or 4 were really focused on). I felt like Agatha didn’t need a first person voice, nor did some of the other characters who had a chapter or two. This is my only complaint, but I didn’t mind too much. I loved getting to see the story from both Baz and Simon’s point of view, and I loved Penny’s perception too. It just gets a bit exhausting, having to switch from one character to the next, and sometimes they’re characters we barely know.
I’m not going to lie. I genuinely love Carry On. Maybe it’s not the most sophisticated, or original, but that doesn’t mean I can’t love it. In fact, I cried a little bit when I finished, just because I was so sad that it was over. These stupid idiots are going to stay with me for a long, long time; I can’t stop thinking about them, and mourning the fact that I don’t get to read about them anymore.
Well. At least there’s always fanfiction.
5 mages out of 5.