Tuesday 8 March 2016

Review Time! - Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On Rainbow Rowell book coverTitle: Carry On

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Genre: YA, Paranormal, Fantasy, LGBTQ+ (M/M)

Amazon: USA

A few starting notes:

I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publishers Pan Macmillan via NetGalley. NetGalley provides review copies from publishers in exchange for fair and honest reviews.

I had the opportunity to review this in connection with the new edition released by Pan Macmillan on 25th Feb.

I've heard loads about Rainbow Rowell, but had never read any of her books before (I can hear your collective gasping from here.)

I figured 'Carry On' would be the Rowell book I'd be most likely to enjoy, so decided to give it a shot.

I know this is kind of a spin-off of Fangirl (UK - US) - but figured since it was a book based on the fictional series mentioned in Fangirl (so... it's a book based on a series in a book about fanfiction... my head hurts,) that it would be OK to read it standalone (and it was.)


Simon Snow is a Mage; probably the most powerful Mage ever to live. And with the World of Mages about to fall into about ten kinds of war, that's probably not the best thing to be.
And then there's his room-mate: Baz. Who may or may not be a vampire. And who may or may not be plotting against Simon.
Alongside that is the threat of a mysterious force called the Insidious Humdrum, and a mystery surrounding the death of Baz's mother.
Lots of challenges ahead for Baz and Simon: will they face them as friends, foes, or something else?

Best bits:

This book was like Harry Potter fanfiction on steroids - and yes, that's a compliment. (From me, that's a compliment.) 

It takes a Harry Potter-esque world and gives it a healthy dose of the 21st Century; it works.
I loved the sense of humour here - it's not a book that takes itself overly-seriously. And the school being at Watford? Just brill.
It's witty and self-knowing - which I really enjoyed.
The characters are great. Particularly Baz - Rowell knows her audience, and has created a deeply vulnerable Draco Malfoy/Loki hybrid; he's sharp, he's smart, he gives all you fangirls the feels. Well done Ms Rowell, well done.
I also loved Agatha - a sentiment that isn't shared by everyone, I'm sure. I think that the problem is, she's a fabulous character... who belongs to a different story.

She's not a part of this story - she's a part of her own; so she always feels a little out of place.
I also adored the way that spells are created from language - from the way people use language, and the way that it evolves. I thought that was really poignant.

Not so great bits:

This book, to me, waxes and wanes - there are parts that are slow, and parts that are fast. And, personally, there are aspects I would've explored to greater depth, and aspects that I would've trimmed down a little.

That's fine - and, obviously, down to personal preferences. But I can't help but think that with a few changes it could've been something truly special.

And the first quarter-ish of the book is basically Simon having a small pout over nothing and everything. Hold on - it gets so much better!

I also predicted all the twists - it didn't bother me that much, because I was just chuffed that I'd figured it out, but I know a lot of people don't like to be able to figure out plot-points.

There's also a bunch of the usual: some swearing, some violence, etc. If that stuff bothers you then it's maybe not the book for you.

And not everyone is going to appreciate the humour - but, personally, I loved it.


I surprised myself by really enjoying this book. True, there were some minus-points, but they didn't really detract from the whole. And I love Baz; he's just awesome.

UPDATE: 16th May 2017 - Some people have problems with this book with regards to bisexual erasure. If anyone has any blogposts or reviews which discuss this, please let me know!

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  1. Glad you enjoyed this, Cee! I really need to start reading this book again- I always hear so much about Baz- and I haven't gotten to a Baz-intensive part yet! :/

    1. Hold on and get there! Honestly, it all becomes so much better once he turns up - the first quarter of the book is just needless Baz-waiting-time. :)

  2. I had mixed feelings about this book as well! I thought that it was really done well for a Harry Potter fanfiction, but it was very predictable.

    1. Like I said, I didn't really mind the predictability (I like to be right! :P ) but while I enjoyed it, it could've been *so* much more awesome. I suppose mixed feelings is the right way of putting it :)

  3. Sounds like you liked this way more than me. It was a bit too slow for me and I didn't care for the plot. I really liked Baz though!

    1. fair enough - I can understand that. The first part in particular was like, 'when will something happen?' :)

  4. I personally feel like I should finish the Harry Potter series AND also read Fangirl before trying to get through this one, so it might be a while before I actually get off my lazy butt and read this. But it does sound promising even though it has its slow and better parts like any other book as well!

    1. Like I said, I haven't read Fangirl, and it still made sense to me. Although, I think you should finish reading the Harry Potter series first - not so that you can read this, but because HARRY POTTER! (Sorry - a lot of coffee this morning) ;)


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