Thursday 22 October 2015

REVIEW: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Pages: 517
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, LGBT
Release Date: October 8th 2015
Buy The Book: Amazon UK - Waterstones - Amazon

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savour his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he'll be safe. Simon can't even enjoy the fact that his room-mate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can't stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you're the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savour anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters.

My Thoughts:
I don’t even know where to start. Seriously. I’m practically left speechless, which doesn’t happen very often. THIS BOOK. I can’t cope with it. I’ve been reading well into the AM because this book is too stubborn to leave my hands.

I apologise in advance for this emotional mess that I’m about to try and pass off as a review. Also, I’ll keep things spoiler free for now (WHICH IS GOING TO KILL ME, BY THE WAY, JUST SO YOU KNOW), but I do plan on uploading a video discussion very soon for everyone that has read the book.  

Anyway, where should we start? Let’s cover the basics of the plot. Simon Snow has magic, but not just any magic. He’s been prophesied as the Greatest Mage. He’s the chosen one, and is, according to his roommate and ultimate enemy, Baz, the worst chosen one that’s ever been chosen. He’s in a bit of a mess. He can’t control his power, he doesn’t know how he came to have this enormous amount of power, and he’s basically clueless about what all of it means.  He’s also being constantly attacked by the Insidious Humdrum, who has been out to get him since he started at Watford.

Simon and Baz are enemies, and they’ve fought against each other non-stop since being forced to be roommates when they first arrived at Watford. When Baz doesn’t turn up at the start of term, Simon begins to get suspicious. Throughout the first part of the book, Simon becomes obsessive in his need to know where Baz is and what he’s plotting. He’s convinced that Baz could jump out at any given moment with a plan to bring him down. 

The first part of the book also gives us a great insight into Simon’s life at Watford so far, and his relationships whilst being there. We get to meet his best friend, Penelope, who I totally adore. And also his girlfriend, Agatha. Even though there is a lot of backstory to cover, it doesn’t feel rushed. By the time I reached the second part of the book, I felt like I’d known the school and characters for years. 

The chapters in which Simon is constantly thinking about Baz made me so anxious for him to finally arrive in the story. It drove me crazy! And then when he did arrive, oh boy did he arrive in style. He owned my heart immediately. Baz is so completely different from Simon, and I loved getting to see things from his point of view. He’s just so full of sass and arrogance, I couldn’t ask for a better character.

Although he’s snarky and generally unpleasant towards others, there is a specific scene from his first night back at Watford that adds a vulnerable side to his character that I wasn’t expecting so soon. I was already emotionally attached to him by that point! 

Due to a promise made by Simon, he ends up working alongside Baz for the first time, and it is here that the story takes on a whole new level. The changing of the relationship between the two of them throughout this book is a tension-filled emotional rollercoaster, and it’s beautifully written. I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like it, and I simply couldn’t get enough. 

Rainbow Rowell is one of my favourite contemporary authors because of how fantastic she is at building relationships. Every moment is electrifying between her characters and no detail is spared. Although this is a fantasy novel, Rainbow manages to inject some of that wonderful contemporary style into the dialogue and the emotions, creating the perfect balance of fantasy and romance.

One of the things that really stands out for me is the way we get to see the story from so many different perspectives. It doesn’t just focus solely on the thoughts running through Simon and Baz’s minds. I loved seeing Penelope’s side of things, and even Agatha’s. It allows readers to get to know all of the characters more in-depth.

I also have to mention how fantastically British this story is. Total credit to Rainbow for being spot on with all of the references and dialogue. I adore stories that embrace Britian in all it's Britishness glory.

The plot is thrilling from start to finish. There wasn’t anything about this story that lacked excitement. The conclusion was cleverly thought out, and I loved that not every question was answered by the time we reached the epilogue (WHICH WAS PERFECT, BY THE WAY). There were some things left for the reader to ponder about.

I am so grateful that Rainbow decided to write this story, and it deserves every bit of praise that it gets. Not only is it my favourite book from this year, but it’s also one of my favourite reads of all-time! 

So, as you’ve probably figured, I’m in love with this book. Now I need to go and catch up on the sleep I lost reading it.

Royal Rating:


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