Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who's ever been chosen. That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right. 

Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here - it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up (from Goodreads). 

Rainbow Rowell is quickly becoming one of my new favourite authors, and this book is the reason why. I loved reading Fangirl, as I felt such a connection with Cath, the heroine of the story. Carry On is linked to Fangirl, as it has the same name as the fanfiction Cath was writing, and so it's meant to be the story she wrote. In a way, it's fan-fiction, and yet canon and that's what makes this book so wonderful to read.

The world of Simon Snow and Watford School of Magicks is expanded from its brief introduction in Fangirl, and it's very well-crafted. Yes, of course it feels like reading about Harry Potter, seeing as how Simon is the Chosen One and has grown up rather miserable in the human world, but that's the beauty of this book. Some of the best fan-fiction I've read doesn't take itself too seriously, and this book doesn't. It's just fun and pleasant to read, and it feels very respectful to the fandom culture. 

Simon is a great character, as he's really not perfect. He frequently struggles with who he is, with his powers and he has no idea what he's going to do to save the world but knows everyone expects him to. He makes mistakes, is really quite an idiot most of the time, and yet is always so lovable and loyal to the people he cares about. 

Baz was probably my favourite character out of the whole story, and I just wanted to hug him at every turn and tell him he was a) being stupid, and b) that everything was going to be alright. Baz is just so broken, and really struggling with who he is. There's so much going on in his life, and he feels so lost and alone, and I'm glad by the end of the book he had made his peace with being a vampire. I'm glad he never struggled with being gay in this book, even though the struggle was mentioned for previous years, because it made him stronger as a character to have moved past all that. He had other things to focus on, much more important things this year, than something that really isn't that big a deal if you have the right people in your life. Baz is obviously meant to be Draco Malfoy, but Baz is stronger than Draco ever was because in the end he made the right choices. He stopped being a pawn, and began playing the game. 

The relationship between Simon and Baz was the main focus on the book, not saving the world, because this is meant to be fan-fiction and that's what fan-fiction does. It's a slow-burning build, but it's wonderful to read. Especially when you know every word is canon; it's like every fangirl's dream. They have such great chemistry, such clashing personalities, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how they finally found each other. By chapter 61, I felt like my heart couldn't possibly take anymore, and had to regroup my thoughts for a few minutes before picking the book back up. Fan-fiction is known for being far more diverse with its sexualities than most published authors would ever bother to write about, and Carry On just doesn't give a shit about being anything other than fan-fiction. 

Penelope is a wonderful character, and I like there's racial diversity within Carry On. Penny is smart, the smartest out of all of them really, and is a feminist. She's such a strong character, and has no time to deal with Agatha's ridiculous notions that Penny wants Simon. Agatha is the weakest character of the group, but that's okay because she was written to be; she was written to genuinely feel out-of-place in the world of Magick. She's rational enough to know her world is dangerous, and doesn't want to be a part of it. She wants to go back to being normal, and has no interest in being Simon's 'happily ever after' just because he thinks that's how it should be. 

So yes, the rest of the plot is a little bit rushed in parts, but that's because the main focus is Simon and Baz. The ending probably could have been better, magick-wise, and the big reveal of who the villianous Humdrum is probably could have made more sense, but it doesn't really matter. All the little things can be forgiven, because this book was just wonderful to read. 

I couldn't recommend this book more, but I do warn you it's written for fangirls. If you're not interested in delving into the fan-fiction culture, or at least seeing what sort of stuff really makes us happy, then I don't think you should bother. It's up to you, really, if you want to give it a go or not. This needs to be adapted into something; it would probably have to be fan-made because it goes against all the norms for movies, but I would love to watch it. 

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