Title: Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Fantasy, Sword and Scorcery, Young Adult
Publisher: Macmillan (8th October 2015)
SIMON SNOW ID THE WORST CHOSEN ONE WHO’S EVER BEEN CHOSEN.
That’s what his roomate, 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 Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.
Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story, and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.
Rating: **** (4 stars)
CARRY ON: THE RISE AND FALL OF SIMON SNOW by Rainbow Rowell is a standalone novel, which is linked to her young adult novel FANGIRL (review). CARRY ON tells the final part of the Simon Snow series which readers of FANGIRL will be familiar with, as the Simon Snow series is the fandom that Cath, the main character of the novel, is immersed in. Rowell gives readers a glimpse into the world they’ve only heard about through Cath, and her love of it.
Although I did not love FANGIRL, I did really enjoy the concept of the novel and the ideas that Rowell explored with in it. So when I heard that she was going to be writing a novel based on the mysterious series within the novel, I was curious to see what it would be like. CARRY ON was in many ways what I would expect for a novel within the young adult fantasy genre, but in a lot of ways it was also a lot more. And although Rowell dives in, straight to the last book I think it works very well – we do not need the rest of the series, which isn’t to say I maybe wouldn’t have liked to read it, but I think it works well – and perhaps it’s strength is – as a standalone.
When CARRY ON starts Simon Snow is going back to school for his final year at Watford School of Magicks; he has spent the summer separated from his friends in a children’s home. Snow is just what you would expect from the hero of any magic school set fantasy series since Harry Potter – he lives in an orphanage, he’s very powerful, he grew up in the non-magical world, he’s handsome, and he has a best friend who is very bright. Snow is also somewhat hapless, and he’s also very kind. Snow is also the subject of a prophecy, and one of the things that I really enjoyed about CARRY ON was how Rowell explores this idea.
The book is mainly narrated by Simon, but his friends – and enemies – also sometimes add their narratives to the story, so as a reader you can get a pretty broad overview of what is happening within CARRY ON. I thought that this split narration on the whole worked well, as it allowed a better insight into the characters, but there were times when I felt it was a bit much. Having said that, I really enjoyed reading the book and I think Rowell created an interesting world. The book kept me guessing until the end and although there were things that I guessed were going to happen, there were plenty more I didn’t.
If you have read an enjoyed FANGIRL, then CARRY ON is definitely a book that you should add to your to-be-read pile because it adds to the story in FANGIRL. I also think you don’t necessarily have to have loved FANGIRL to enjoy this book; I think if you come to this book with a love of the magic school genre and enjoy fanfiction then you will almost certainly enjoy it too.