ARC Review: Carry On

Carry On
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is so meta, that it is a fanfic based on a book about fanfics of a series similar to Harry Potter. Simon Snow first appears in Fangirl, as the titular character of the series Cath Avery loves and writes fanfics about. From that book, not much was known about the series aside from the fact that the rivalry between Chosen One, Simon, and his roommate/nemesis Baz hides a deeply passionate love. But Carry On is neither that nor the original (or canon in Fangirl universe); having a story that is deeply involved in the characters and blends magic, comedy and loads of shipping. Simon is back at Watfords for his final year (something Harry Potter never got) and he is sort of tired of his Chosen One status that has been thrust upon him since the day he came into his powers. He is in love with Watford, and everything that it stands for but his powers are as unpredictable as Baz’s moods, and he fears the day he won’t be able to come back to it.

For the final year, Simon is deeply melancholy and when Baz doesn’t return for the school year at the start, he gets worried that he is planning something. In the World of Mages, there is a power struggle going on and these two are on opposite sides of that war. But when Baz’s mother’s spirit comes to Simon, he and Baz share a truce to investigate her murder. Soon enough Penny (his BFF) and Agatha (his ex who likes Baz now) are roped in, but they are missing parts of the equation when it comes to the Humdrum (sort of like an anti-magic vacuum) and the circumstances around the attack on the school. As Simon and Baz become sort of friends, Simon realizes that he might be gay, but he doesn’t concern himself over figuring it out; bigger problems and all that, but it isn’t swept aside either. On the other side, watching Baz trying to get over Simon was hilarious at some moments (he pushed him down stairs!). These two dorks are too adorable and I loved how the book ended – in a bittersweet way, but with good resolution of characters’ arcs.

Received a free galley from Pan Macmillan, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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