Review by: Ava
“Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who has ever been chosen.”
This… is true. It’s also pretty safe to say that Baz is the worst (or the best??) roommate in the history of boarding school, and “The Insidious Humdrum” is the least threatening name for a villain since little Darla Dimple from Cats Don’t Dance. Do not be fooled, however, by all the negative language in this description. It turns out that a failing main character, an antagonistic sidekick, and a more amusing than sinister villain is exactly what was needed to create one of the best YA novels I have read in a very, very long time.
Where to start… first of all Carry On is a rather glaringly obvious fanfiction of Harry Potter, and I seriously recommend reading it that way. The parallels and easter eggs hidden amongst these pages are an absolute delight to come across, and there really isn’t a shortage of them. Although the world in the Simon Snow series (Carry On being the first book), is very similar to Harry Potter, the writing style and plot is wholly original and breaks many stereotypes for YA fantasy. One reason for this I believe is the fact that Rainbow Rowell herself is a traditionally contemporary author. I fell in love with all the characters, even if I didn’t necessarily like them, and Rainbow Rowell’s method of playing with the reader’s emotions is nothing short of witchcraft.
As far as parallels, it is important to note that Carry On is in some ways a sequel to Rainbow Rowell’s best selling novel, Fangirl. In this story a young college student by the name of Cath is OBSESSED with the Simon Snow series. Fangirl was such a great hit that Rainbow Rowell had to actually write the Simon Snow series, and it is such a great thing she did! Although I didn’t personally read Fangirl, I’ve heard from a lot of other enthusiastic readers that benefitted from reading Fangirl first, and enjoyed the process of reading Carry On just a little bit more.
Now, if you still don’t know whether Carry On should be the next book that you pick up, let me explain a few things. Simon Snow goes to the Watford School for Magicks, and he loves it. At the start of Carry On he is beginning his 7th year at Watford, and it’s going to be great. He has a girlfriend, a best friend, and this will hopefully be the year he can finally defeat his arch-nemesis, the Insidious Humdrum! Things take a turn for the worst however when Simon’s other nemesis, AKA his vampire roommate Baz, does not show up for school. For the rest of the book Simon and his friends take the readers on a whirlwind of adventure, magic, ghosts, kissing, and a whole lot of plot twists! In this book there is a great representation of an LGBTQ romance, as well as a variety of character personalities. At some points in the story it felt like every individual character was their own mystery and subplot, and honestly, I’m not complaining.
Overall I’d say Carry On is the perfect novel for anyone looking for a book that is different from the traditional genres of either ‘adventure’ or ‘contemporary’. I devoured this book, and can definitely forsee it becoming a book I reread many times in the future!