Review : Carry on (Rainbow Rowell)

Title : Carry On
Author : Rainbow Rowell
Published : October 6th, 2015

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Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Rating :

4stars

I HAD BIG EXPECTATIONS AND IT DIDN’T DISAPPOINT

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• my thoughts •

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“What you are is a fucking tragedy, simon snow. You literally couldn’t be a bigger mess.”

.

I’ve had to let myself stew on that for a little while. I finished the book yesterday and if I’d had to write a review then, it would just have been a jumble of half-finished sentences, and none of it would have made sense. The closest thing I could think of that would have summed up my feelings at that moment was this :

And, though accurate, it didn’t feel like enough. This book deserved more.

Like I said, I had high expectations. I saw glimpses of this story in Fangirl and I completely loved it. The fact that I would get to read the full story was pretty amazing in itself, but then it turned out even better.

The tricky thing, though, was to sort of make it seem like fanfiction to the reader, in the sense that we had to feel the sort of familiarity that Cath feels towards Simon’s story : there’s already a universe there, the characters have a backstory with each other. And, of course, it all feels new to us, it’s an original story, but I feel like it had to make us feel like we’ve been on the entire journey with the characters anyway, like we’re really back with them for one last adventure. So, I was interested to see how Rainbow Rowell would bring up all the exposition, and I’m really glad with what she did. She gives us some elements but, for the most part, we’re plunged into the story right away, and a lot of things are mentioned as anecdotes, like, “Yes, we’re talking about this, but you already know about it”, and I love it. It makes me feel included.

So, starting from there, the rest was a piece of cake. There are so many clever things in this story :

  • the different take on magic : magic is theme that’s been done over and over again and, especially with this story and its obvious Harry Potter-vibe, it was absolutely brilliant to take a different route and imagine something else entirely (by the way, they basically have a “Ctrl+F” spell for actual, physical books, and that’s it, I’ve found the spell I need the most in my life !).
  • Baz’s arrival : we know it’s a story about the two of them, and the way the author held Baz back the way she did, how she made us feel as impatient as Simon to finally see him, made his entrance into the story even better. I felt elated and curious and relieved, too.
  • the build-up : what my favorite romances have in common is the insane build-up and slow-bluild that comes before the two characters even acknowledge that there could be more, so I was perfectly happy with how their story progressed. Rainbow Rowell is about to become my favorite author when it comes to romance.

And, most of all, it was the different take on the Chosen One story. I did figure that there would be something along those lines, as I was reading, but I think it’s not something that you often see in Fantasy : that the Chosen One can also be the problem. I think it was handled very well. I also loved that the author didn’t shy away from the post-traumatic consequences, when they’re so frequently glossed over. I loved that she didn’t cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s, that the ending wasn’t an “All was well”.

I just really loved this book, and I’m so happy that she decided to write it in the first place.

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