This review is spoiler free.
“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.”
Series: Simon Snow
Published: 2016, by Macmillan.
Length: 13hrs and 38mins (Narrated by Euan Morton)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Fiction, Romance, LGBT
Contains: Strong Language, Violence, Death, Blood/Gore, Anger, Murder, Mentions of Eating Disorders and Anorexia, Implied Sexual Content
‘Carry On’ tells the story of Simon Snow, a boy known as the worst Chosen one who’s ever been chosen. That’s what his roommate, Baz, says anyway. It’s their final year at Watford School of Magicks, and Simon just wants to complete a school year peacefully. However, when Baz doesn’t show up at the beginning of term, he becomes suspicious, believing him to be scheming elsewhere.
I wanted to like this book. 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. So, expectations were high, however, they unfortunately didn’t match it.
Simon Snow was intentionally oblivious to the world, repeatedly getting himself into trouble with his words and actions, and not once apologising for them. He’s clueless, yet to a point which makes it endearing. Regardless of that fact, his story-line was quite unoriginal, being “The Chosen One”, yet, we’ll get to that later.
Baz, however, was an interesting character from the start and slightly more imaginative. Being a character who was antagonised from the start always draws you in, wanting to picture exactly why Simon Snow hated him so much. Although, that was a gradual process, it was intriguing to read and understand. Plus, his narration was deeply enjoyable, more so than the protagonist’s. His character developed the most out of all the characters within this novel, being the first (and only) to admit his wrongs and act upon them, making for a more interesting read.
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 (Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl), however, I expected it to be slightly more subtle than this. 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 best 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. There was a gap, a hole where the magic should have brought me some joy, but instead there was nothing pulling me into it.
Overall, I’m pretty undecided on where I stand with this story. The characters themselves were interesting, the world fascinated me, and the narration was extremely entertaining, but the execution just didn’t feel right. Originality was missing, and I just couldn’t take it seriously.