I was provided with a free copy of this book by the UK publishers as I am a UK Rainbow Rowell Fangirl. My opinions have not been altered by this and are all still my own.
I don’t know I’m supposed to even begin talking about Carry On. I have no words, (something I find very ironic as the entire magickal world in this novel relies on words).
This book was utter perfection. There are a lot of books I have really enjoyed in my lifetime and this one is definitely up there.
To help me begin to think logically rather than fangirlly about this book, I’m going to split my review up into sections.
Rainbow Rowell managed to find the perfect balance between subtle, clever references to Harry Potter whilst also creating an entirely new and unique world that hasn’t ever been seen before. As a words girl myself, I loved the fact that common phrases, popular references and even songs were used as spells. In my mind, this was not only amusingly witty, but really allowed Rainbow to personalise her Wizarding world.
One thing I found particularly unique about this novel is that it is set in the final year of Simon Snow’s time in Watford, meaning the reader is really plunged in his world. Due to Fangirl, readers already have an idea of what this magickal world is like, but starting at the end put such a unique spin on this novel and made it even greater.
The characters is this novel was great. Although they often had nods or links to some of J.K. Rowling’s characters, they were all also completely new characters.
Let’s start with Simon. Simon is possibly the world’s worst Chosen One ever, but always made me laugh and had some great character quirks such as always wearing his uniform and eating butter with a spoon. For a great wizard, Simon doesn’t really seem like it at all, which makes him very relatable. Even though words are so important in this magickal world, Simon isn’t very good with them and would rather use a sword. Another thing which I love about Simon is he’s not even sure he’s gay as he makes out with Baz, but at the same time figures he’s got bigger problems to deal with. If only we could all be as blasé as him.
Baz. How do you even start to talk about Baz? I loved him so much. He was supposed to be a bad guy and at times he tried really hard to be, but he just couldn’t do it. I loved it when he reminisced on the year where he wanted to either kiss or kill Simon. Quite an unusual combo. Baz has a tough home life and spends the first 7 years of his Watford school career, trying to foil Snow’s plans but to no avail. Those two were destined to be together. As a couple, the two of them are just so adorable. They continue to squabble and take a while to figure out how it’s going to work becuase it’s always a challenge going from enemies to lovers.
Penelope Bunce is an obvious link to Hermione, but for some reason I didn’t quite connect to her in the same way I did to Hermione. Don’t get me wrong, I liked her, but she wasn’t my favourite. Penelope always has the answer, Simon knows that, Agatha knows that and even Baz, as loath as he is to admit it initially, also knows that. Somehow she is luckily saved from the curse of being an insufferable know it all, by her personality and her family circumstance.
Agatha. Agatha. Agatha. I really don’t know how I feel about her. On one hand I feel sorry for her, whilst on the other hand, she bugs the crap out of me. It’s a really interesting idea that Rainbow chose to explore. The idea that a wizard might be born with magic but not actually want to be part of that world. Even though I would find it unbelievably epic to be a witch, I can kind of understand where she is coming from.
The Mage is an interesting character. Now I know I shouldn’t keep making direct comparisons to Harry Potter but he was obviously a less cool version of Dumbledore. Despite the fact we as readers looked at his past as well as reading the present from his POV, I just couldn’t really click with him. In my mind, he felt more like an explanation than a character.
I would talk about the Insidious Humdrum but I’m afraid if I was to do so this review would have to reveal lots that isn’t mentioned in the book until the very end. All I’m going to say is that this character is a plot twist in itself.
The plot of this novel is very similar to Harry Potter in many regards, however at the same time, the novel is completely itself. It starts in a similar way to all the Harry Potter novels, with the hero returning back to school. The novel then continues in a traditional Harry Potter style, going through the term before a long Christmas break with lots of action.
Overall I think the plot of this novel was engaging throughout with lots of twists and turns and POVs from people you didn’t even know who they were. There was certainly never a dull moment when reading Carry On. This novel was paced perfectly meaning that I was either learning new things abotu the wizarding world or in the middle of the action so I just had to keep reading.
I loved all the references to popular British culture, that wasn’t cliché and proved Rainbow Rowell had really done her research. I completely forget this book was written by an American. It just feels so unapologetically and unrestrainedly British, which I absolutely adored. Very few books have such an authentic and clear sense of place when set in Britain. This was one aspect of the novel I was concerned about but clearly I had no need to worry!
Overall definitely a five star read in my book!