Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On is a 522-page fantasy novel by Rainbow Rowell, published by St. Martin’s Griffin in October of 2015.

23734628Simon Snow, a wizard in his eighth year at Watford School of Magicks lives with his evil, vampire roommate Baz and is constantly worrying about and fighting against the Insidious Humdrum. The story shifts between Simon, Baz, and their friends Penny and Agatha’s points of view.

Okay, this book is actually a continuation of a fanfiction series that Cath (a character from Rowell’s Fangirl) writes online with her twin. It’s basically a fanfiction of year 8 of the Harry Potter series if Draco (Baz) was a vampire and Harry (Simon) were roommates fighting Voldemort (Insidious Humdrum).

I recommend either reading Harry Potter or Fangirl before venturing into Carry On. The plot probably wouldn’t stand up on its own, because it jumps right into the problems and politics of an established magical world. While Rowell’s world is a little goofy, it seems intentional. The characters make fun of the Insidious Humdrum, which is both amusing and creepy at the same time (the Humdrum takes the shape of 11-year-old Simon).

On big change from HP is the fact that Baz is in love with Simon, which plays up the teenage love triangle in an interesting way. Another, an improvement, is the building tension surrounding the Mage (Dumbledore), who isn’t as squeaky clean as he appears to be. The exploration of his past and motivations is my favorite part of the entire novel.

The teen angst was nice. The romance was nice. Everything ended up pretty nice. That’s great and all, but I wish the novel were darker. It certainly has dark scenes, but it didn’t reach that heart-rending depth of darkness that Harry Potter achieved (though it may be unfair to compare anything to HP). At least Carry On doesn’t take itself too seriously, which I think The Magicians (another book riffing on an established world–Narnia) suffered from at times.

Overall, this was an incredibly fun book, a quick and light read, and a fantastic “What if?” of the nonexistent year 8 of Harry Potter. I definitely recommend it for fans of the HP series and for anyone who enjoys fantasy and fanfiction.

TITLE: Carry On
AUTHOR: Rainbow Rowell
PAGES: 528
ALSO WROTE: Eleanor & Park, Landline
FIRST LINE: I walk to the bus station by myself.
FAVORITE LINE: Just when you think you’re having a scene without Simon, he drops in to remind you that everyone else is a supporting character in his catastrophe.

136251 6101718


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