Recommendation: If you are a young adult reader I recommend a buy for you on Carry On, with a bump up on your TBR list to high, and if you are a not a young adult reader, a library borrow when you want something light and easy to read with YA romance. Rowell takes on the “chosen one, magician school” genre with satire, a gay romance, and a story that straddles the line between something clever and fan fiction.
Carry On is a magician school story about a chosen boy that will destroy the great evil plaguing the school. It is purposefully a Harry Potter rip off and the book is featured in the book Fan Girl by Rowell, where that main character loves this fictional book. There is as much romance in this book as there is fantasy, so fans that are looking for a purely fantasy book, look elsewhere. The book is a multiple point of view story that is told in first person. At the top of each new section, the author makes sure to tell you which character’s point of view we are now seeing the world through.
Simon Snow is the chosen one, the one with the most magic of any magician ever, and his nemesis is called the Insidious Humdrum. Snow can’t really control his magic but he is able to, in the right moment, stop the Humdrum with a blast of uncontrolled powerful magic. Baz, his roommate, and his arch rival at their school, is Simon’s worst enemy other than the Humdrum, and a vampire. The funny thing is that Baz is actually secretly in love with Simon.
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell has some great characters that really grew on me. Simon is just a complete mess, he doesn’t really think anything through, and acts incredibly impulsive all the time. I like how he is a super powerful magician but can’t really control his magic at all. Baz is probably my favorite character and in my opinion the main character of this book. Baz’s struggle to be Simon’s enemy but also having deep feelings for him is interesting to read. He is the character in this book with the most depth. Penelope is Simon’s best friend and just overall female buddy. This completely platonic relationship between Simon and Penelope is fantastic and their friendship is great to read about.
The strength of this book is really the relationship between Simon and Baz. Simon and Baz’s relationship just kind of makes sense with these two characters and was great to read. Readers looking for more gay main character relationships in their books should definitely check this book out. The adolescent romance didn’t annoy me at all and that is impressive considering a lot of YA like relationships annoy me. I think it didn’t annoy me because these two characters had such a history together.
The characters is what made the book for me and the reason I liked it but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was reading fan fiction through out the entire book. I guess it makes sense because the book is a fictional book in another book about a girl that writes fan fiction about this book. Then again, I just wasn’t impressed with Rowell’s writing. I’ve heard a lot about Rainbow Rowell in the last few years and I’ve wanted to read one of her books but I think the fact that YA is not something I usually enjoy is the reason I felt her writing was weak. I felt the plot was horribly predictable and the resolution seemed too easy. I wanted more mystery and more exploring of the school in the book. The school setting was extremely under-utilized, I think she could of added a lot more imagination, and the magic system needed more conditions and too simplistic.
Overall I enjoyed Carry On. I don’t read many books with gay romance in them, it was nice to read one that I enjoyed. If you are a person to gush over LGBQT centered books, I think you’ll love this book, especially if you are a YA reader. I’m glad I read this, it was an enjoyable quick read, but YA romance books are just not my thing.
14/25 Possible Score
Plot – 2(O.K.)
Characters – 4(Strong)
Setting/World Building – 2(O.K.)
Writing Style – 2(O.K.)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 4(Strong)