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 starts 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.
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.*
Even as I was reading this book, I knew that I would have to reread it sometime soon because I felt distracted during a lot of it, like I wasn’t fully appreciating what was going on in the story. Part of it was because I didn’t have a lot of solid chunks of time to read, more scattered minutes here and there, but part of it was also because I had just read FANGIRL so CARRY ON felt a lot like one of Cath’s fanfiction pieces more than an actual novel to me.
Since this book is being written about a unique world of magic, the author had to give a lot of background information on the way the world she created works, on who is who, and what has already happened in the characters’ lives before this particular story begins. While it was all necessary information, it made the first 100 pages or so a little tough to get through. Don’t let that throw you if you choose to pick up this book, though, because the story does pick up. It turns into a wonderful, gripping fantasy with a little bit of everything: ghosts, evil wizards (called mages in this world), prophesied “chosen ones”, romance (of both the hetero- and homosexual variety), goblins and dragons, feuding families, and fire (lots and lots of fire).
The magick of this world is extremely unique, as is the force that is threatening to tear the World of Mages apart. That force remains a mystery until close to the end of the book, though there are plenty of frustratingly veiled clues scattered throughout the story as the tangled web of overlapping lives unravels to reveal one timeline of events, as well as the true mastermind behind it all. The mysteries of the Humdrum, the unsolved murder, and the unprecedented attack on Watford School of Magick kept me eagerly flipping the pages to uncover more clues and see if I could work out exactly how they were all related.
I really enjoyed this story because it easily allows for an escape from the real world. The characters are carefully crafted, the world so well explained, and the breadcrumb trail of clues so deftly laid that it is easy to get lost in the book. I give Rowell a lot of credit for the way she wrote the different voices; the story is told from many different perspectives and it always feels that way. It is easy to distinguish each voice rather than having them all sound like forced efforts on the part of the author to sound like someone other than herself.
There are so many different types of readers that I would recommend this book to: Fans of the Harry Potter series; fans of any sort of story involving magic, vampires, and/or prophesies; people who enjoy seeing homosexual relationships represented in literature (it isn’t extremely heavy on the romance, but there are definitely some touching moments); anyone who enjoyed FANGIRL; readers who are interested in the after-effects of a revolution, and how the world rights itself in the wake of that massive change; and those who enjoy stories told from multiple points of view.
I’m excited to reread this at some point, knowing how everything fits together at the end, so I can appreciate even more how carefully laid out everything was from the start.
*Synopsis and cover photo are from Amazon.com.