When I Rainbow Rowell announced that her next book would be Carry On the entire internet let out a huge SQUEEEE!! For those who may not be familiar with her work (which really you should) in her 2013 novel, Fangirl, she introduced us to Simon Snow, a Harry Potteresque “chosen one” and his nemesis/roommate Baz. In Fangirl, Simon and Baz are characters in a beloved fantasy series that Cath was writing a fan-fiction for. We got a few snippets of Simon and Baz through Cath’s writing, in which she took the characters from enemies to lovers. Cath spends Fangirl trying onto finish her fan-fiction before the author of Simon Snow series, Gemma T. Leslie publishes the final book. Carry On is the final book of the Simon Snow series but it’s not Cath’s story or Gemma T. Leslie’s story it’s Rainbow’s story. I guess that’s sort of meta. Rainbow isn’t really writing her own fan-fiction. How can an author write a fan-fiction of her own work? I guess this is more canon then anything else since she is the original creator. Cath and Gemma, don’t actually exist. I would say it’s in it’s own unique category. The other thing that makes this different from Rainbow’s other book is that it’s a full fledged fantasy novel. Her other books have all been contemporary novels though Landline does have the fantastical element of having a magical phone that allows Georgie to talk to her husband Neal from the past. So this is new territory for her but she passes with flying colors. In a way, Carry On is much a love letter to the fantasy novels of her life. Obviously, Harry Potter is a huge influence but so is Chronicles of Narnia and a little Twilight among others. She’s able to give little winks and even a little commentary on other franchises while still remaining it’s own thing.
Simon Snow is the most powerful mage of all time. He is the Chosen one. The one who is has come when the world of the Mages need them the most. The Insidious Humdrum is draining the world of magic and only Simon can stop him. Unfortunately, Simon can’t control his own magic and is beyond obsessed with his roommate Baz, who is a vampire! When Simon comes back to school for his final year, Baz is not there and is missing for weeks. Simon tries everything to track him down and figure out what evil plan Baz is concocting now. Unfortunately his best friend Penelope and his girlfriend Agatha are not really all that interested. Now when I say he is obsessed with Baz, he really is. He spends the first part of the book doing nothing but thinking about him. Describing him in such a detailed manner that only someone who pays attention or cares for notices. He may not see his attraction to Baz but as readers we can see it. When Baz finally returns we learn that he also in love with Simon but at least he knows it. It excites him but also scares him because he knows that they can never be together. Most likely they will end up killing each other since they are on opposite sides of the war and yeah, he’s a vampire. He’s cruel and mean to Simon because he loves him and tries to push him away.
When in Baz’s dead mother appears to Simon and tells him to search for Nicodemus and avenge her death, he and Baz team up to find out what really happened the night she died and Baz was turned. They soon realize that they have more in common but they truly feel for each other. It’s a gradual process but when it happens it’s breathtaking. There was nothing strange or unusual about Simon and Baz falling in love except that they are two boys. You could changed the gender of one of them and it would still work as a love story. I think that’s important. We’ve talked before on how important representation is important in books, especially in kids and teen literature. Here we get two boys falling in love. One knows he’s gay and the other still figuring out his own sexuality but it’s still beautiful. It’s wonderful to have this positive relationship out there. Not just for LGBTQ teens but for straight ones too. Love is love.
Now let’s talk about the girls. Penelope is Simon’s best friend. She’s smart and no nonsense. She knows who she is and not afraid to stand up for herself. She’s also Indian descent. She is always there to help Simon and helps him out of some really scary situations. She also willing to roll with anything that Simon does or feels. She doesn’t trust Baz at first but sees that Simon is set on helping him so she goes all in. Agatha is a little more complicated. She is Simon’s estranged girlfriend. She loves Simon but not in love with him. She’s struggling with the expectations of what others expect from her and what she wants. She has friends outside the Mages world. She knows there is more to life outside her closed circle. She’s also tired of being just the girlfriend who Simon has to come and rescue. She doesn’t really know what she wants but she knows it’s not that.
I truly enjoyed this book and I do hope that Rainbow writes more fantasy but I don’t care what she writes because I will read and love it anyway