Over the last few years multiple people have recommended Rainbow Rowell to me, but as her books are also classified as YA contemporary (a genre with which I have a complicated relationship to say the least) I had been putting of her books for the time. Not in the least because I feared a repeat of the John Green disaster (see also my review of TFIOS). However, when I saw Carry On, which takes place on a wizard school (and I love me some wizard school), I was finally swayed and decided to read it figuring that if I wouldn’t like this novel I probably wouldn’t like any of her books.
Carry On turns around Simon Snow who knows nothing is the Chosen One according to the school’s Headmaster who’s also ignoring him for most of the year. While a war is raging Simon mostly worries about his sworn nemesis/roommate Baz (yes, with a Z) who has not returned for the last year of wizarding fun.
To be honest, when I started reading I was really questioning myself. The first, I guess, 20% were very difficult to read. While I’ve found that all books about wizarding schools I’ve read in the last few years share some resemblance to the Harry Potter series, this book WAS HP. It read like fanfiction. Considering the fact the book was over 500 pages long, I worried my eye-rolling-muscles might get overworked as I struggled through the story.
At some point though, I think I might have found some peace and just tried to enjoy it even though it was fanfiction (which I don’t usually read, because I don’t like it). It was also around that time that I found out this is actually a fanfiction from a book that plays a role in one of her other books. Yes, it’s that complicated, and while it reeks of ‘look at me I’m soooo interesting’ I kind of liked the idea.
Add to that a long train ride home, which would have boon inconsiderably boring if not for Carry On and I ended up having not such a bad reading experience after all. Which makes me realize I haven’t said a single thing about the story and the characters yet. Well, think HP, two sidekicks and the sworn enemy of the sidekick who’s probably in league with the very big bad guy who eats magic. Simon is the Chosen One, the special snowflake (Hell, even his name is SNOW), the strongest wizard of possibly all time. At the same time he’s just another teenager. He’s really taken in with himself (‘But I’m the Chosen One!’) and that doesn’t really make him a likely character.
The only other character who I found had at least some depth was Baz, the others were just there to fill the space I guess. One thing the books certainly wasn’t missing was loads and loads of a) POVs (why?) and b) super short chapters (I’ve raged about them before). I will not say too much about the story for fear of spoiling, but let’s say it suffices to say it resembles HP fanfiction. So much so, that I’ve started calling the book Harry On*.
I really disliked the first part, but the rest was a very fast read and enjoyable. It is these mixed feelings that cause Harry On to stick at three stars. And now I’ll have to read Fangirl, since I want to know how this story is portrayed there.
*Used with a CC licence, after my sister first canned the phrase 😉
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Carry On (Simon Snow #1) – Rainbow Rowell