This Review contains spoilers.
“Just when you think you’re having a scene without Simon, he drops in to remind you that everyone else is a supporting character in his catastrophe.”
Published: 2016, by Macmillan.
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Fiction, Romance, LGBT
Contains: Strong Language, Violence, Death
‘Carry On’ is a sequel of sorts to Rainbow Rowell’s bestseller ‘Fangirl’, in which the protagonist, Cath, writes fan-fiction about two wizards, Simon and Baz, who attend a wizarding school. ‘Carry On’ tells their story, where Simon is in his final year of magical schooling, and is prophesied to defeat the Insidious Humdrum, a magical force destroying the world. So, it’s a story inspired by a novel of her own, which was inspired by a well-known fictional series.
I wanted to like this book more than I did. There was so much hype online for it, and after reading Fangirl a few years ago, I thought it was time to return to Rowell’s work and discover exactly why everyone adored this story so much. Plus, it was in the YA LGBT section in Waterstones, which never takes me much convincing.
However, the story itself let me down on one major level. It was was intentionally unoriginal to a level that made me uncomfortable. I know that Simon’s story deliberately mimicked elements of the Harry Potter universe in the introductory story (Fangirl), however, I expected it to be slightly more subtle in this. It is a standalone novel after all, and a bestseller at that. Considering there was no notice within the book that the story is a tribute/parody/nod to J.K. Rowling’s world, I expected more originality to play safe. However, what I got was a boy wizard (“The Chosen One”) prophesied to fight evil, a smart female friend, a friendly groundskeeper, a powerful wizard who tells The Chosen One nothing, and a sworn enemy from a notably dark family. Sound familiar? Yet, unlike Harry Potter, this world wasn’t near enough magical. Yes, there was creatures, and schooling, and spells, yet the amount of humour pulled me out of the world too much. I assume the spell names were supposed to be comedic anyways, yet at times I just found them unimaginative and cringe-worthy.
I didn’t completely dislike this novel, the rest of the story was entertaining and somewhat comforting at times. The writing itself is beautiful and easy to read, making it the perfect lazy day read. Regardless of the plot, I found myself anticipating picking the story up again. In particular, I loved the characters. Baz was a character I found myself enjoying, loving the chapters written in his point of view. He had the most notable progression, from being portrayed as an antagonist at first, into Simon’s love interest by the end. The final chapter and epilogue, for example, shows him comforting Simon after the trauma he suffered, as he previously ridiculed him. The relationship between the pair was admittedly adorable, loving their teasing dialogue and interactions throughout the story. (I mean, it’s a wizard and a vampire, what’s not to love?!)
I also liked Penny, Simon’s best friend, who’s known for her maturity and brain, yet the one thing she couldn’t understand was the relationship between the two main characters. Her strength was inspiring and enjoyable to read, having deeply cared and protected Simon throughout the story.
Overall, I’d probably recommend this novel to people in the future, if only for the cute characters rather than the story line.