I finally got around to reading a book by Rainbow Rowell! And quite honestly, how I ended up with Carry On in my hands is a story almost as quirky as the book itself!
Let me take you back about 3 months ago, and to my sister’s house in St.Paul….What does this have to do with me writing a book review about Carry On? Well, I’m getting there. You see, my sister had an interesting roommate. (I will not name names) And also, only my sister knows her so it wouldn’t matter to you, anyway. BUT. At the end of the school year, at the end of college – for my sister and this particular roommate – Adri and her roommates were all in the process of moving out of their shared house. However, this particular roommate left many, many, many, many (you get the point) things left behind without looking back. Quite a few of these items – books! How could a person leave their books behind! It’s criminal, honestly. On the flip side, my sister and I did not shed tears and as the phrase goes: “One (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure. That is the tale of how I acquired a copy of Carry On.
I’ve never been much of a contemporary fan. SciFi YA, sure. Dystopian YA, I’ll do it. Fantasy YA, hell yeah! But contemporary…eh. Which would be why I never read Fangirl, arguably Rowell’s most popular and well known book – and also contemporary. I’d seen Carry On in all the usual places – B&N New Releases, Goodreads book of the month, etc.. I ignored it. That is, until I ended up with a copy of Carry On because my sister’s roommate didn’t take it when she graduated from college and I took it because I recognized the author and also because it was free. Weird, right? I told you.
So now I had this free book. And what did I do with it?? Read it?! Haha, but no. I used it to complete my rainbow TBR bookshelf! Who has that many books with a yellow cover, right?! So it sat there on my TBR bookshelf, making one beautiful and completed book rainbow for about three months.
I know I said I didn’t like contemporary much. But then again, sometimes I do. Hardly ever though, just to be clear here. (*insert that white guy in a suit with his chin resting on his hand*) “I don’t always read contemporary…..but when I do it’s because it’s summertime.” I know some of you will understand. I’m not always in the mood for contemporary, but when I am, it’s because I’m in the mood for cheesiness and gooeyness. Summer is perfect for that. I might hate the heat and humidity, but the sunshine and the flowers and (the idea of) summer flings and grilling out and lake nights…you’ve gotta admit it – it’s the perfect recipe to get you in the mood for a light-hearted and sappy book.
*spoiler-free review* (yes, there is actually a book review hidden in here somewhere)
Now that I was in a rare mood for contemporary, I thought I might as well pick up Carry On. Guess what, it’s not contemporary. Guess you didn’t see that one coming, huh? Me neither. What else I didn’t see coming – that this book was signed, too!! (which makes it even more sacrilegious that my sister’s roommate left it). Turns out this book is about Simon Snow, the most powerful mage to have ever existed and it’s his last year at the school of magic, Watford. I was, of course, more interested once I discovered this.
Carry On, to start, takes place in the UK. Simon Snow, Penelope Bunce, and Bastilion (Baz) are all very British and with very British names to boot. They are also a very quirky bunch. Simon can’t control his magic. Penelope has two and a half friends. Baz is a vampire (at least Simon claims he is). Simon and Baz are roommates, much to their dismay, of course. (They rather hate each other, or is it love each other?) Penelope and Simon are best friends, and Baz and Simon are nemeses. They make quite the group.
In Carry On, Simon, Penelope and Baz battle the great and evil Humdrum (and each other, too) and attempt to learn how to get along together without killing someone. An admirable feat, truly.
Carry On really surprised me (and not just because it wasn’t contemporary). It was a very quirky book and all of the heroes and villains just as quirky. And, it’s also a revamped version of Harry Potter – but one that addresses many of the issues Rowling’s books glossed over. The Mage is Dumbledore, Simon is the Chosen One, Watford is Hogwarts, etc. But what really *carried* this book was the characters, anyway. It’s hard to talk about the fact that this book features a gay couple without spoiling what happens, but I’m going to assume most of you already knew that Simon and Baz totally had the hots for each other, and go ahead and talk about it. Carry On is really about friendship and acceptance, especially accepting who you are. Whether you’re a vampire, the most powerful mage in existence, a Normal, you have a tail, or maybe just if you’re gay. I mean sure, they’re trying to save the world of mages, too, but mostly, Simon and Baz are just trying to make it through their final year of school alive and while working on accepting who they are. Carry On is charming, hilarious and powerful. Simon and Baz are utterly and ridiculously romantic and what I loved most – real. They make mistakes, they fight (ALL THE TIME), they suck at communicating (A LOT), they make out a ton and they struggle a lot – but through it all, they Carry On.
Hey you, you should read this one. It’s worth your time. It’ll make you smile. And laugh. And cry…possibly.