Book Review – Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell

Two years ago (!), Ms. Barrows and I were singing the praises of Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. The book stars Cath, a young woman in her first year of college. Cath loves the Simon Snow books, and writes fanfiction while awaiting the last book in the series. While reading Fangirl,  I desperately wanted to read the Simon Snow books that Cath was so obsessed with. I must not have been alone, since Rowell went ahead and wrote that last book.

Carry On is the eighth book in the Simon Snow series, but it’s also the only one that actually exists. Reading it is almost like reading Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows without having read the six other books that came before it. It’s a fitting comparison – Simon Snow is a student at a magical boarding school. He’s an orphan. The school’s headmaster is his mentor. He has a smart, bossy friend. He’s supposed to save the magical world from a big bad guy. There’s a groups of old magical families who oppose the headmaster and his policies. Simon’s nemesis at school, Baz, is from one of those families. Baz is Simon’s roommate, he might be a vampire, and Simon wants to punch him. Maybe.

I’m not going to claim this is deep fiction. I found the central mystery pretty easy to figure out. And the hazard in writing a standalone book that is also (supposedly) the last in a series is that there are lots of callbacks to past events and adventures that feel both too fleshed out and not fleshed out enough. But it’s a fun book, and it was nice to spend time with these characters. The relationship between Simon and Baz is the real draw of the book. Rowell switches perspective between characters, and Baz’s chapters are probably the best of the lot. Come for the quasi-meta-fanfiction, stay for the scene that is essentially “Harry Potter has dinner at Malfoy Manor.”
Signing off, James Gette (if Hogwarts won’t take me, maybe Watford will?)

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