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Carry On: A Novel (Simon Snow Series (1)) Hardcover – October 6, 2015
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"Rowell imbues her magic with awe and spectacle. It's a powerful, politically minded allegory about sexual, ethnic and class identity - with a heady shot of teenage lust." ―New York Times Book Review
"It’s a brilliantly addictive, genuinely romantic story about teenagers who can’t be neatly sorted into houses, coping with stress and loss and the confusion of just trying to be who they are. It’s as if Rowell turned the Harry Potter books inside out, and is showing us the marvelous, subversive stuffing inside." ―Time Magazine
"Full of heart and humor, this fantastical tale is a worthy addition to the wizarding-school genre." ―People Magazine
"Carry On is the fantasy book I didn’t know I’d been waiting for for years...Rowell’s mystery, magic, and political intrigue is the sexiest love story I’ve read in a long time." ―Julie Beck, for The Atlantic
"The funny, wised-up dialogue, the tumultuous, sweet, and sexy love story― is grade-A Rowell...almost impossible to put down." ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Stock up on copies―this one begs to be reread." ―Booklist (starred review)
"With rock-solid worldbuilding, a sweet and believable romance subplot, and satisfying ending, Carry On is a monumentally enjoyable reading experience. Hand this to fans of Rowell, Harry Potter, love stories, and magic." ―School Library Journal (starred review)
"Carry On is a triumph. Thrilling and sexy, funny and shocking, deeply moving and very, very magical. Trust me, you have never, ever seen a wizard school like this." ―Lev Grossman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians trilogy
“Absolutely captivating.” ―Kirkus (starred review) on Fangirl
“Rowell manages to capture both the wildly popular universe of fanfic and the inside of an 18-year-old's head. Consider me a fangirl of this charming coming-of-age tale.” ―Entertainment Weekly on Fangirl
“A deliciously warm-hearted nerd power ballad destined for greatness.” ―New York Journal of Books on Fangirl
“A funny and tender coming-of-age story that's also the story of a writer finding her voice . . . touching and utterly real.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Fangirl
“The magic here is cast not with wands but with Rowell's incredible ability to build complex, vivid, troubling and triumphant relationships.” ―Booklist, starred review on Fangirl
“(A) charming coming-of-age novel . . . filled with complex subjects (such as divorce, abandonment, and mental illness) handled in a realistic manner, and the writing effortlessly and seamlessly weaves these threads together.” ―School Library Journal, starred review; Best Fiction Books of 2013, on Fangirl
“As funny as it is embarrassing, and as charming as it is true-to-geek-life . . . Fangirl is a cute and poignant read for fangirls and fanboys of all ages.” ―Tor.com on Fangirl
About the Author
Rainbow Rowell writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (Attachments and Landline). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (Eleanor & Park, Fangirl and Carry On). But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they're screwing up. And people who fall in love.
When she's not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don't really matter in the big scheme of things.
She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons.
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I didn’t give “Carry On” five stars just because it’s amusing, literate, gripping, and filled with fascinating young characters. This marvelous book by Rainbow Rowell, a best-selling YA author of whom I’d never heard before, has given us the gift that J.C. Rowling never did.
“Carry On” is a rather startlingly obvious take-off on Harry Potter and the world of Hogwarts. It is clearly deliberate, and part of the fun of reading it is to see how the author has tweaked every little detail to both remind us of Rowling’s epic series and to affirm that Rowell has made it entirely her own. My favorite detail is the name of the magic school itself: Watford School. For all of its medieval antiquity and mysterious changeable buildings, Watford is a bland suburb near London (with its own well-known football team). Rowell’s magical folks live entirely among the Normals. They have to: their ability to control the magic around them and within them depends entirely on their skills with human language. It is a brilliant conceit that becomes the lynchpin of the entire, page-turning story.
Simon Snow is a foundling, abandoned or orphaned as an infant. He was found by the Mage, a powerful magician who is both the headmaster of Watford and the head of the Coven—the governing body of the magical world. The Mage made Simon his heir in order to get him a place at Watford—because Simon, it turns out, is the most powerful magician ever born, and is destined to save the magical world from some terrible evil.
Simon’s best friend is Penelope Bunce: super smart, obsessive about history, fearless. His girlfriend is Agatha Wellbelove: blond, beautiful, but more interested in her horse than in her magical heritage (or in Simon, as it turns out). Simon’s archnemesis and roommate is Baz—Tyrannus Basilton Pitch-Grimm: aristocratic, brilliant, clearly up to no good. He’s been trying to kill Simon ever since they started Watford at eleven years old. Baz’s family wants to oust the Mage and return control of Watford to the old magical families. And Baz, it seems, might just be a vampire.
You see the parallels, but it’s all a bit off, and that off-ness makes it fresh and contemporary and somehow more real. These magical teens have cellphones (at home); they know pop music and films. They use lyrics from Queen to power their spells. And the thing that makes it most wonderfully off is that, right at the bright, pulsing center of this story, is an unexpected recognition of love between two boys. But only unexpected if you aren’t paying attention.
The book is set up as if it’s the last chapter in a long series. It feels like you’ve dropped into the story with no bearings, but skillful writing fills us all in on the essential facts of the past half-dozen years at Watford. And this is where it all gets so deliciously twisted: our understanding of good and evil does not entirely mesh with what we understand to be right and wrong. As the story moves forward, things only get more complicated. Simon and his friends—and this includes Baz—must ultimately decide what they have to do, whether or not it jibes with what they, as children have been taught by the adults in whom they have placed their trust all their lives.
Rainbow Rowell is s straight woman from Nebraska, and I’m a little floored at how briliantly she pulled off a gay YA story set in England. “Carry On” had its origins in “Fangirl,” one of Rowell’s best-selling YA novels, and therein one sees how, and more importantly, why it is connected to the Harry Potter world. For the legions of gay Harry Potter fans who have consistently felt cheated by J.K. Rowling’s refusal to include an LGBT character in her fictional world, Rowell has given us a pearl of great price. Rowell’s power as a highly successful author within the confines of mainstream publishing made this possible. I hope other successful mainstream writers in all genres will follow her example.
Carry On is a full length Simon Snow novel. Simon Snow is similar to another series with a famous boy wizard, but it is wholly original. Carry On takes place during Simon’s eighth year at Watford, a school for magical children. Simon plays a unique role in the World of Mages; he is seen as the Chosen One, who will deliver them from evil. Namely, the Insidious Humdrum, who takes on the form of Simon as an eleven-year-old boy.
Simon has a best friend- Penelope, and a girlfriend- Agatha. Simon also has an archnemesis/roommate- Baz. When Baz doesn’t return at the beginning of term, Simon is suspicious. Is he planning something? Tensions are running high at Watford, and there is a divide between the Old Families and people who want social and political reforms.
When Baz finally returns at Watford, things are different. Instead of hating Baz, Simon is concerned about his welfare. And instead of wanting to kill Simon, Baz only wants to kiss him. As the World of Mages begins to crumble, Simon and Baz realize that they are stronger as allies than as enemies.
I loved this book. I loved everything about it. I loved Simon, and I loved Baz. I especially loved Penelope; she was smart and confident, and her fierce loyalty to Simon was so poignant. I loved the allusions to previous Simon Snow escapades that took place before Carry On; coming into the middle of the story was fascinating. I loved the way that Rowell developed her own language of magical spells by taking snippets of songs and popular phrases. I loved the multiple narrators; everyone has their own perspective, and the whole story wouldn’t have resonated as well if we only had Simon’s point of view. I loved the way that the tension between Simon and Baz built up slowly, so when they finally did come together, it made sense and it felt right.
I would absolutely recommend Carry On. I loved the Simon Snow excerpts in Fangirl, and I was so thrilled when Rainbow Rowell announced that she was going to write a Simon Snow novel. I devoured Carry On, and I know that this is a book that I am going to read multiple times. I have an Audible credit in my account, and I am going to use it to buy Carry On- probably as soon as I post this review! My only regret is that this is probably the end of Simon Snow- is receiving the rest of the series too much to ask for?
Top international reviews
O livro é do c*ralho e chegou em ótimas condições. comprei no sábado e chegou na terça-feira, amei amei amei
One of the main problems of the YA genre as a whole is that it is often the case that GLBTQI+ characters are not often seen as the main protagonists. Actually, fiction as a whole has an issue with diversity, but let's focus on this one right now. Simple to say, this book does not have that problem. As it is based off of Cath from Fangirl's fan-fiction, the book is primarily about the development of a romantic relationship between characters Simon Snow - the worst Chosen One to ever be Chosen - and Baz Grimm-Pitch - clearly a vampire. There is also - as any good magical 'series' should have - a mystery to be solved, and a big evil to fight. And the twist on that big evil is so damn clever that I could not stop squeeing about it. Seriously, I think I annoyed the person I was talking to.
The characters are so memorable in this novel, it genuinely did feel like I was coming back to a set of characters that I had known for years. This was actually my first Rainbow Rowell novel, and I have been assured that this is a common thing of her books. Penelope may be one of my favourite ladies of all time, and I loved that the relationship between her and Simon was shown to be platonic love at it's best and that there wasn't even a question of them ever hooking up. When accused of disliking Simon's relationship with girlfriend Agatha, Penelope answers with a basic "it was making you both miserable" which is true. Speaking of Agatha, she's an interesting character. Rowell has succeeded in creating a character whom I hate, but at the same time I completely understand why she is doing the things she is, and I support her decisions and just want her to be happy in life. That is a special talent.
Simon and Baz are the focus of the novel and their characters are the most fully developed as well as the most fun to read about. I'd say it's especially fun to read Simon's point of view, and then to straight to Baz's, simply because of how wrongly Simon reads things. He may be the Chosen One, but he is an oblivious idiot. Which, actually, makes him the type of hero character I enjoy. I have a type. I do not see this as an issue.
I would love to say more about this novel, but I feel like even spoiling the smallest thing about it could completely ruin the experience for someone else. Needless to say, this is one that I think people should pick up. Especially if they liked the Harry Potter series. Rowell drops us into a world fully created, and yet we never feel lost or as if we're missing information. We run alongside the characters as their problems escalate at a rapid speed, and never feel as though the pacing is off. It's a slow build leading to an explosive finale, and I'm glad I read it.
...I really would love to read some of Simon Snow's other adventures too.
Then I got over myself, because it’s not like Rowling invented the ‘Chosen One’ story or wizarding schools, and while Carry On is very much a response to Harry Potter, it still feels like its own thing.
(Also, unlike Harry Potter, Carry On isn’t afraid to be queer as hell.)
Written as the final book in a series that doesn’t really exist, Carry On is surprisingly easy to follow and, when we’re told what Simon’s already been through, it doesn’t feel like an info-dump, which is quite a skill considering we’ve missed out on around seven years of adventures.
Simon Snow is the chosen one, plucked from foster care by The Mage when he was 11 to fight the Humdrum, an entity that is essentially an absence of magic terrorising the magical world.
Simon is the first student from the Normal world to attend the Watford School of Magic which was previously run by a headmistress who believed the school should teach only the most elite. The Mage took over the school after she was killed in a vampire attack in which her son, Baz (who just so happens to be Simon’s worst enemy and, unfortunately, roommate), was turned into a vampire himself.
Simon and Baz have never seen eye-to-eye, in fact they hate each other, but when Baz doesn’t show up at the start of the school year and Simon receives a visit from his mother’s ghost, he knows something isn’t quite right. And that’s all I’m going to say, because this novel is so much more enjoyable if you let the story unfold for you one piece at a time.
I’ve read Rainbow Rowell before – her adult novel Attachments and her short story in My True Love Gave to Me – and didn’t love either of them (although I didn’t dislike them either) so I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of this novel. If nothing else, I knew Rowell’s writing style is incredibly readable and, even though this book is on the chunkier side for a YA novel, I flew through it and ended up really enjoying it.
One of the things I was most nervous about was Rowell, an American, writing about British teenagers, not because I think authors should only write about people of their own nationality – that’s ridiculous – but because I think teenagers in particular can often be written badly, even by authors who do share their nationality. Thankfully the British slang Rowell used never felt out of place; Simon and his friends all sounded British, and not in a Hugh Grant kind of way either.
Considering there’s so much we don’t know about this world I thought Rowell did an excellent job of explaining everything, so much so that this world felt real to me. It’s very heavily inspired by Harry Potter, but rather than feeling like a rip-off it feels like a response to it. While Hogwarts is staffed by House Elves who seem to do all the cooking and cleaning for no apparent pay, Simon tells us how the kids at the Watford School of Magic serve their own meals and do their own laundry. Where Harry himself is our narrator throughout his series, albeit in third person, Carry On is told from multiple first person perspectives so that we get to know Baz, Simon’s friends and even some of his teachers as much as get to know Simon.
It was little tweaks like this that made this story so refreshing, as well as how utterly and unapologetically queer it is.
I ended up loving Simon and Baz’s relationship a lot more than I expected to. I love a couple with good banter and these two have plenty, but there are also moments of genuine warmth and tenderness that made the romance in this book so lovely to read as well as so validating.
J.K. Rowling told us Dumbledore is gay after she wrote the series and then continued not to write him as gay in the Fantastic Beasts films, whereas in Carry On Baz says the words ‘I’m gay’, and it makes a difference. Not everyone uses labels, and that’s fine, but when authors don’t use labels and also don’t make their characters’ potential non-heterosexuality clear in some other way, it doesn’t have the same kind of impact that saying the words outright does.
I loved this book. There’s very little I want to say about it in a review because I think the real joy of this book is reading it for yourself and finding all those tips of the hat to Harry Potter alongside a much more inclusive, much more queer, wizarding world.
It's incredibly readable and good fun. The characters are believable and relatable, and the plot is interesting (although a little too well-trailed for my tastes - each hint felt like it was bludgeoning me over the head).
So why just three stars? Well firstly, it absolutely piggy-backs on your existing knowledge of Harry Potter. The first few chapters are basically a lightning exposition-dump, saying "this is like HP, this isn't - get ready, story begins soon". To be clear, the characters and setting are original... but they're absolutely defined by their similarities and differences to HP.
Secondly, and I guess as a result of that... it never felt to me like a world in its own right. The whole experience just seemed that little bit less substantial, as if it was always going to be a be a brief jaunt and then over.
So, 3* as it won't stick with me. But for the brief time I read it, especially in the final two thirds of the book, I really enjoyed the characters' company. I'm glad I read it and I had a lot of fun and laughter.
However, Carry On totally surprised me in the best way!
Although the inspiration is evident, Carry On is very much its own story. At the beginning it may be inevitable to draw comparisons between the characters and the places in Harry Potter and Carry On, but the more I read, the more I forgot about it and found the characters and story unique and utterly fascinating in their own right. The world building and magic system was also fascinating, - funny and ironic at times – and never felt underdeveloped.
I also loved that the story was told from different points of view - mainly Simon’s and Baz’s but also some secondary characters’. It worked really well with this kind of story and made me more invested in all the character. Baz was definitely my favourite, his point of view one of the most interesting. And I absolutely loved the romance!
Overall, Carry On was such an enjoyable and fun read!
Once I had realised this, a lot of things that had niggled me about the book began to make sense. When reading this book, you feel like it is one in a series and yet there are no earlier Simon Snow books published. This is because there are fictional earlier books (mentioned in Fangirl) but not real ones! I presume Rainbow Rowell originally created the idea of this book, if she didn’t actually write it, so that she could refer to it realistically in Fangirl. I suspect, although I could be wrong, that she didn’t originally have any intention of publishing it. I’m so glad she did!
This is a great (ironic) take on the magical-high-school-in-a-normal-world book. It definitely has references to the Harry Potter series, although this is not the Harry Potter world. The book is funny, very well imagined and definitely worth reading even if you have never tried Fangirl. There is wonderful sexual tension between the main protagonists. It was a pleasure to read, although I have to admit in places I did get a bit confused and had to go back and re-read. But it was so enjoyable I didn’t mind. I’d rather there was a lot happening in a book than not enough, especially when it involves characters I love.
A great book that is a must for any Rainbow Rowell, J K Rowling or Cassandra Clare fans.
I really liked this book, okay. I’m not sure I can say I loved it but I think it’s completely adorable and I certainly did love Simon and Baz and their relationship.
Also, Simon’s friendship with Penny was the loveliest thing! They were just so loyal to each other and you could just feel the love they had for each other every time they were together. One of the nicest friendships I’ve read in a book.
As far as the story goes plot-wise, I felt some of it was a little predictable. Like the villain at the end and the truth of Simon’s parentage. However, it didn’t make the book any less enjoyable.
Something else that niggled at me were the spells. I understand they had to be words that were always relevant to the culture or time period, that got stuck in people’s heads, but I just found them quite silly and couldn’t take it seriously when people were casting them!
But overall, I thought Carry On was just the cutest thing. Full of humour and that satisfaction you get when two characters you want together finally get together. Ugh, so satisfying.
Summary of pros and cons:
+ Simon Snow: constantly hungry magician, brave, loyal, a man of his word.
+ Baz: Beautiful, brooding, snarky vampire desperately in love with Simon.
+ Penny: Simon’s best friend, powerful, funny, as loyal to her best friend as he is to her.
+ Simon & Baz: a relationship I’ll be shipping endlessly. I LOVE THEM.
- The spells: I just couldn’t take them seriously but maybe that was the point?
- Agatha: boo Agatha, didn’t like her at all.
- Predictable: only a few things and it didn’t make the story any less enjoyable (so only a small con on that part).
Do I recommend? Absolutely.
There are not many things of which I am absolutely certain: I am not sure of my future; my weak memory has ensured I am unsure of my past; a niggling thought in the back of my mind tugs on the possibility that someone has withheld it from my knowledge that I'm actually a witch - maybe my letter to Hogwarts was shredded because my mum would miss me too much.
I am not certain.
I am, however, absolutely certain of 2 things: Rainbow Rowell is a fabulous author, a mage - in her own right - of manipulating mundane words to portray beauty, and overlooked characters to occupy depth; and Carry On is my favourite novel of the year so far, maybe even ever.
As aforementioned, my weak memory makes it so that I struggle to remember things like how good previous books were. I do commonly get a familiar feeling when I think of my favourite books, though. A brief rush through my diaphragm, a tingling in my fingertips to pick up a book.
This novel is already giving me these feelings. I loved it that much.
Firstly, what I should acknowledge is that if you haven't read Fangirl, you can still read this book. Frankly, I'm looking forward to reading Fangirl after reading this book.
Rainbow Rowell first created the character of Simon Snow within Fangirl, a character that Cather Avery had manipulated to suit her fictitious theories surrounding her favourite book series. Rowell concluded that she was able to let go of Cather and her story with love interest Levi - she was content with their ending. She could not, however, let go of Simon and Baz. She felt as though she owed them a full story. And that is Carry On.
And that, I would say, is beautiful.
Carry On is haunting me, and this is both because of the meaning, and the depth. Rowell is never afraid to challenge normal concepts, and I love that.
Whilst Carry On reflects both Harry Potter, and the fanfiction written about it, I would not hesitate to say that it exists in its own right - J.K. Rowling has never made me feel like Rainbow Rowell has. Of course, Rowling is a talent, a soul that has generated the most well-known series in history, enjoyed by the old and young alike. But Rowell...Rainbow Rowell gives me butterflies. Frankly, Rainbow Rowell makes the whole zoo erupt in my stomach. She destroyed me with Fangirl, and Eleanor & Park, and Kindred Spirits, but I have never felt so much towards one book - Carry On has consumed my heart.
Anyway, as I was saying...
Carry On is a book in its own right, despite its nature as a compilation of all the stereotypical Chosen-Ones. I find it difficult to compare it to any other book.
The book opens with our protagonist, Simon. It is clear from the outset that Simon thinks about Baz - his arch enemy - a lot. He is consistently talking about his annoyances, and how annoying it is that he hasn't even appeared for the final year of school. We are trained to think negatively of Baz. That is, until, we read the first chapter in his point of view...
This book switches a lot between POV, which I think really helped the pace, and ensured the book was constantly engaging. It was also really nice to have an insight into all fo the character's inner thoughts.
Likewise, this novel is impossibly hilarious. On many occasions, it was laugh-out-loud funny. Rainbow Rowell possesses a great sense of wit, and mentioned many a thing that resonated with me as comedic. Because the book has a current setting, and the characters were very much aware of life outside of magic, it was very easy to relate to.
I went into this novel expecting big things. I went into this novel expecting a journey, and - as usual - Rowell did not let me down. This book is a roller-coaster for your emotions, a medley of meaning and emotion that will resonate with every part of your personality.
The pace of this novel is consistently ideal for the happenings. It never feels too slow, and each internal monologue from each character is endlessly interesting, endlessly thought consuming and provoking.
The characters are laden with depth - each has their own woes, and each has multiple dimension, just like everyone in the world. These characters are hyper-realistic, despite their unnatural setting - the people you would meet in the street, or sit next to on the bus, unknowing the trouble their going through, unknowing of the life pumping through their veins.
I feel like I'm rambling, so I'm going to wrap it up!
If you enjoy fantasy, teen angst, and soul-consuming romance, Carry On is the book for you. Trust me. I'm not even a fantasy lover, and I adored this book, explaining as to why I awarded it 5/5 stars.
The downside for me was a couple of plot holes and the fact that RR sometimes tried too hard to give the characters British voices, thereby inserting British slang that actually no 18 year old would use ;)
Still, the characters are so likeable and the romantic side of the story is so lush that I read it twice in one month. :D
As usual with Rainbow Rowell, I adored her characters. Each character was their own individual, unique person and I either loved them or just kind of loved the fact that I hated them. Baz was definitely my favourite, he’s adorably evil and utterly fantastic. I also loved Penelope, she was smart, loyal, a bit dotty but happily herself. Agatha was a character I loved to hate and although I liked Simon, I also think I didn’t?! He was another character I kind of liked to hate. He was a bit annoying but in a ‘you’re annoying but I can’t dislike you’ kinda way. Let’s just pretend and hope that makes sense… :’)
I loved the relationships in this book, the relationship between Baz and Simon, Penny and Simon, Penny and Baz, Penny and Agatha, Agatha and Simon etc, etc. They all had their own relationships and dynamics and it was brilliant! I’ve not personally read many LGBTQ+ books (which is something I need to change) but I loved the way Simon and Baz’s relationship was written. It wasn’t this massive *BAM* plot twist and it wasn’t made out to be the huge ordeal. It was normal (well, as normal as any relationship can be when vampires and mages are concerned) and simply a relationship between two people who really, really liked each other and I really enjoyed that. I liked that Simon didn’t feel the need to put any labels on himself, or at least not yet, and instead simply live in the moment. He knows who he likes and that’s what matters to him.
The one thing I did find slightly difficult with this book were the obvious similarities with the Harry Potter series. At times I was wondering whether I was loving this because it was fantastic, or whether I was loving it because it was so fantastically like Harry Potter? I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it was a wonderful blend of both.
The short version; it's glorious, go read it, you won't be disappointed.
The longer version; if you have ever read any of Rainbow Rowell's other books you know what to expect. Romance (obviously) and sass and pop-culture references. If you're looking for a modern Giovanni's Room look elsewhere. This is unashamed YA nonsense and it's distractingly wonderful. Funny, sweet and with rather more monsters than you might expect. I laughed, I read bits out loud to my friends, I gasped, I cooked with only one hand and when I finished it my only regret was that it didn't have another eight sequels and a Netflix series that I could binge on.
I’m such a sucker for a good story which involves two people who are clearly meant for each other but either can’t see it or stuff keeps getting in the way… until it doesn’t. Note I said “good story”: this formula doesn’t always work, but Rowell is rather good at it. I like her writing style: it doesn’t draw attention to itself and allows character and plot to grab all your attention.
And I want to say: points to Rowell for nailing the Britishness. I was looking out for anything that would give her away and there wasn’t a single thing. I’m pretty sure if I ever tried to write a book set in the US a sneaky “wardrobe”, “motorbike” or “biscuit” would give me away.
Overall: if you enjoyed the short snippets of Cath’s Simon Snow stories in Fangirl, I would encourage you to pick up Carry On. It’s fun, absorbing and cute. To give you an idea of just how cute: I’m still smiling while writing this.