“Aleister Crowley, I’m living a charmed life.”
Even though I had this from the week it was released, I didn’t get to it right away. However, I can safely say I could not put it down once I started it, and finished it in one sitting.
THE NON-SPOILERY TALK
In case you don’t know, author Rainbow Rowell has written snippets of this before, scattered around in her other book, Fangirl. Now this is where it gets meta. In Fangirl, the main character of the book, Cath, is writing fan-fiction based on the books about Simon Snow in her world. So we get snippets of the “actual” books and of her fan-fiction. But Rainbow didn’t want to leave it at that, so she made the Simon Snow story in her world into a book and story of its own. There, technically those snippets do not count as “canon” since they were written through Cath. Therefore, you may be familiar with the idea of the story, but nothing more specific is happening. So no, there’s no need to read Fangirl before this.
Still with me? Alright, good.
So the story follows Simon Snow, a 16-year-old boy who is said to be “The Chosen One”, the one to save the Magickal world from a “great evil”, as the prophesies say. Simon Snow himself, though, sure does not feel like one. He barely acts like one too. Baz, his roommate and sworn enemy since they were 11, thinks he is “the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.” Sure, he could be the most powerful person the world has ever seen, but that mostly means he sets a lot of things on fire by accident, himself included.
Simon causes a lot more trouble by trying to help than staying out of it. So he has no control of his powers, his wand seems to hate him, and he gets to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, since he’s the Chosen One. And if all that is not enough, there is also a powerful monster on the loose, a force that nobody has ever heard of, that sucks the magic out of everything around it, human and place alike, leaving “dead” (magic-less) spots on the map.
Worst yet, it looks exactly like an 11-year-old Simon.
In this world of monsters and creatures and snobby Magicks, it’s the cherry on top. The Mage, head of the Watford School of Magicks and Simon’s mentor, is the one that found him and hid him in the school to protect him from…well…everything. But he has troubles of his own, as the powerful families in the political world try to overturn him and as there are several wars going on, and Simon is left without anyone to turn to for advice.
Plus, his arch nemesis Baz didn’t even show up for class. That always means trouble.
One thing I really liked on this story is how nicely Rainbow Rowell has mixed the “magickal” world with the modern world. In most books I’ve read about magic and stuff, I kept seeing how anything magical tends to keep away from the normal, how magical people keep to themselves because they look down on the technological advances of the human world.
In Carry On, the magickal world depends on the normal world. It’s believed that words have power, and the more a phrase is said the more powerful it is. That’s the reason why the spells they use are actually catchphrases, common slang said over and over by humans. Or, in more powerful spells, nursery rhymes, said and passed on by generations. I hope I’m not the only one on this, but I like little details like that a lot.
That is all I can say about the plot without spoiling anything.
Carry On has a good deal of humor, sass, feels, and kissing, sprinkled with a great deal of magic and monsters.
Overall, I will give this book 4/5 stars solely because it has left quite a few questions unanswered. If you are familiar with the author’s writing, you know how she tends to do that, just in smaller bits. But judging from this book, I would say that this was intentional, and there’s another one in the making soon. At least…one can hope. One can go so long without having their dose of Simon and Baz in their life.