~ Warning! Spoilers! Book Review – Carry On by: Rainbow Rowell ~
After reading and enjoying Fangirl and Eleanor and Park, I decided that I need more Rainbow Rowell in my life. I immediately bought Carry On especially since the characters were mentioned in Fangirl which I liked a lot. However, I don’t know why after having bought the book, I stalled in reading it. It’s the new year and I finally finished reading it. Now, here are my thoughts.
I thought about writing a summary before going into my thoughts but too much happens where I feel unable to properly summarize it. So, let’s jump into my reading process. It took me a while to start the book, and once I started reading it, it was really easy for me to put it down. I was honestly beginning to question why it is so well-liked. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting into it. I truly thought it would be a book I like. I finally powered through one snowy day, and once I got over ‘book one’, I began to really dig the story. FYI! The book is split into five parts: book one, two, three, four, and epilogue. Looking back, book one was a lot of world and character building and dives straight into letting readers know as much as possible about Simon and his history plus current life which can get tedious to read, for me. Also, I didn’t appreciate the concept of ‘words/phrases’ being spells. It threw me off along with the copious usage of parenthesis and italic. The constant change in narrator/perspective took some time to get use to as well. Yet! Once I adapted and got over book one, I got sucked into the book deep. Ignoring the multiple attempts it took to start the book, I technically finished Carry On in a little over one seating which I think says a lot of for latter half of this book.
Like I said, I was hooked after book one. At first, I wasn’t feeling any of the characters. Initially, I thought there was a realness in Agatha when she explains how her life is just her being a secondary character in everyone’s story and how she doesn’t know if she can fall, fall in love. I pitied her, but then I didn’t. She got the ending she deserved, but it doesn’t mean that I like it. Supposedly, Agatha left the magical world when poor Ebb wasn’t able to and had to die because of magic, but did Agatha really leave magic or is she running away from responsibilities? The whole I am spending my tuition money from my parents to live comfortable in California did not sit well with me at all. Not at all. She went from complaining about being a secondary character in everyone’s life especially Simon’s to wasting it California. That’s what it seems to me. Therefore, she isn’t living it up in sunny California, but doing the bare minimum of ‘living’. But, I guess it’s a believable ending though she could have deserved much more.
Whereas, Agatha disappointed me, all the characters started growing on me. I began to see the tenderness in Penelope though I don’t think I could ever be friends with her. I also don’t get this long distance relationship of hers, but whatever. Because when Baz finally makes his appearance and Simon is no longer a whiny mope, I finally saw what Baz saw in him. Hands down, Baz in my favorite character. His appearance saved the book. I want to go out on a limb and say that Baz is probably everyone’s favorite.
I loved the way Baz loved Simon. I love a good doomed love story. I can’t help it. When Baz was explaining how hopelessly in love with Simon he is, I felt my heart squeeze. Then, the second time Simon transfers his powers to Baz and they are seeing stars. Oh my, I could feel the static electricity/fire. This is one redeeming quality of the book. I think the author does this fantastically in every single book I have read of hers. Rainbow Rowell has this way with words where she is able to make the love feel real and the readers can truly sense it and be a part of it. I wish we could see Simon’s love more, and though their first kiss was a fan girl moment… it might have been too much of a fan girl moment. I still enjoyed it though.
More about the characters, it was quite obvious that The Mage is the real super-villain. I could tell from Fangirl, and I think it was easy to figure out from the beginning that he is probably Simon’s biological father and is the reason why Baz’s mother died. I like how the book tries to throw us off by having Penelope say that it was the ‘murderer’ who was behind Baz’s kidnapping when it was as clear as day that the murderer is The Mage. I wonder how a mad scientist figure like him could hide that side of him to the point of being appointed as The Mage. When he was a student, everyone already thought he was a freak. Poor guy, he had some great concepts with this whole equal opportunity for all with magic to practice it, but then he just had to get so obsessed with power, ‘the chosen one’ aka Simon, and the old families coming after him (though they were). I want to believe that if Lucy didn’t die that maybe, just maybe, he would not have fallen further down the deep end. However great his concepts were and how much good changes he brought to the magical community, he was off the deep end from way in the beginning and I think Lucy just aided him instead of truly helping him. I think it made sense in the end for Simon to not know the truth about his birth – how The Mage is his biology father pretending to be his adopted father (and a shit father at that), how his mother died giving birth to him because he pretty much killed her, how he was created with some voodoo magic solely to be ‘the chosen one’. Wow! The more I think about this the more I think Simon would lose his shit if he found this all out that even Baz couldn’t bring him back. Agatha, keep that picture. I don’t even know how this paragraph got so long. I was ranting and couldn’t stop. I say all of this to say that this book has no real twists or turns. It is quite predictable in terms of who is behind everything.
Alright, let’s talk about another positive point. We do get some humor here and there, and it is quite refreshing. Some of the spells are straight up ridiculous, but they can be funny. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” is one example. Also, the whole Gareth having to pelvic thrust to do magic is quite hilarious to imagine. Oh oh, did anyone else catch the Twilight reference?
Lastly, let’s talk about the ending. I think it would have been nice if the magical dead spots recovered, but that’s not the main deal. I think Simon and Baz got the ending they deserved, and Simon showing up at the dance was definitely cute. I feel like Penelope just got tossed aside with no proper ending, but I never really cared for her too much to mind. I get that Simon has to return to ‘normal’, but I don’t like that he isn’t fully ‘normal’ and he will always need magic because of his wings and tail. I don’t understand that, but it’s whatever’s. The book kind of ends in true Rainbow Rowell fashion where there’s an ending but at the same time, you are left hanging. I like that Baz finally gets to kiss all the moles he was always staring at.
I know I felt a lot for this book, but I did not think I was going to write so much. I really think I should stop before I bored everyone who has gotten this far to death. Overall, I had an interesting experience with this book. Once I got over the first part (and some other stuff), I really did start it enjoy it a lot. I loved reading about Simon and Baz. They have a swoon worthy quality about them. If I could, there would be some parts I would bookmark to read again. I don’t know what is wrong with me and why I had to get so deep into the book before I started enjoying it, but I honestly think people would enjoy this book. Rainbow Rowell does have a way with prose. Truthfully, I have seen pictures of the new cover, and it’s super awesome and beautiful. I will probably buy it. I do like this Simon and Baz pairing. With that said, this book conflicts me, and there is no way I can properly review it. I might give it a second try once I get the new cover…
I wrote this really late at night, and I wrote so much that I am too tired to read it over for typos. I apologize for that, but it’s time for bed.