By: Hannah Rapp, Teen Librarian
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or talked to me about books at all, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. So when I heard she was coming out with Carry On, a fictional book based on the fanfiction written by Fangirl’s main character Cath (complicated enough for you?) I was thrilled. Luckily for me, Rainbow Rowell never disappoints!
What I Just Read: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
What’s It About (Jacket Description): Rainbow Rowell continues to break boundaries with Carry On, an epic fantasy following the triumphs and heartaches of Simon and Baz from her beloved bestseller Fangirl.
Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.
Do I Like It: As far as I’m concerned, everything Rainbow Rowell writes is wonderful!
Thoughts: If you’ve read Rainbow Rowell, and especially if you’ve read Fangirl, I’m not sure how much I can say that you don’t already know. Like every Rowell book, Carry On has remarkably well-realized characters, beautiful relationships between them, and conflicts that matter as much because of character as plot. Like the description says, there’s plenty of talking and kissing – plus monsters!
But there are two things that particularly struck me, despite being a Rowell aficionado. The first is how much Carry On, especially at the beginning, is somehow both a love letter to Hogwarts and a more modern, realistic take on the magical boarding school. I love the Harry Potter books and Hogwarts dearly, so it was wonderful to read something so clearly influenced positively by the books and (fictional) place I love so much. But Carry On is so much more realistic and less fantastical than the Harry Potter books, despite the magic, that it made sense for Watford to also have laptops, soccer, and significantly more cursing than Harry Potter. The balance between homage, modernization, and originality was just perfect.
The other thing that I wasn’t expecting but that absolutely blew me away was the friendship between Simon and his best friend, Penelope. It’s clear pretty much from the first pages that Penelope is the most important person in the world to Simon, even above his girlfriend, and that their friendship is strictly platonic. There are so few books that feature real, deep, friendships between men and women, without any hint of romantic tension, that just the existence of it was wonderful. And the dynamic between Penelope and Simon was the best – absolute love and devotion, but also a friendship that encompasses Penny’s complete acknowledgement of Simon’s faults, and Simon’s characteristic blindness to Penny’s faults because she is his favorite person. I’m always a sucker for good friendship stories, and Carry On’s central friendship is one of the best.
I could rave forever about Carry On, but I’ll close with this: if you’re a Harry Potter fan, this is a must-read. If you’re a Rainbow Rowell fan, this is a must-read. And if you’re not a Rainbow Rowell fan yet, Carry On is a great place to find out what you’ve been missing!