Before I get into the specifics, let me just say that this wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. I went into this book with pretty high expectations due to the hype surrounding the novel. I had heard from countless people stating that even if you didn’t like the Simon and Baz shorts in Fangirl, that this was completely different. As someone who didn’t care for that aspect of Fangirl, my hope for this book was renewed, but I was unfortunately disappointed. Really, the saving grace of this book for me was the ending and climax.
First off, the pacing of this book drove me insane. It’s awkward in the beginning because we are thrown into the last year of Simon’s schooling, but with all things considered, I feel Rowell still did a good job of filling us in on everything we needed to know. Honestly, the first half of the book really dragged, and the few plot points that did occur were extremely predictable. That being said, once you get to the last 100 to 150 pages, SO many things happen, and while it’s a tad overwhelming, it is extremely exciting and intriguing. As I mentioned before, this was definitely my favorite part and the saving grace of this book.
Then, we have the characters. I’m going to straight out say it- I don’t like Simon Snow. I thought that as the book went on I would grow to like him, but I was really more annoyed and frustrated with him, and could honestly care less about what happened to him. Not exactly good traits for a main character. Baz on the other hand was at least interesting, and we could see a layered character with several different emotions. Penelope was a carbon-copy of Hermione, so naturally I loved her and her boldness to pieces. Then there was Agatha, and I still don’t know why she has a pov, because she honestly contributes nothing to story at all. Now, the few and far apart Lucy chapters were very intriguing and it was probably one of my favorite story lines. So much information is revealed in these short chapters, and while reading them I had several realizations about the story. While I may not have liked all of the characters, I do appreciate the fact that they all have distinct voices. This book changes point of view several times, even within the chapter, and you knew which character you were reading from without even looking at the name. That is something that other authors have not been able to accomplish, so props to Rainbow Rowell, because it is difficult.
This is one of the strangest fantasy books I have read, because it doesn’t feel like a fantasy! At most, it feels like a contemporary with magic thrown in. You don’t know much of anything about the World of Mages or how things works. Their spells are pop-culture references, which is honestly the most bizarre part of it all for me. Seriously, there are intense scenes where they are spelling nursery rhymes!? I love references in books, but in a fantasy it seems oddly placed. That being said, I still loved recognizing certain references, especially the spell “these are not the droids you are looking for.” XD Also the Insidious Humdrum was just a weird villain, but I can’t say much about him without spoiling.
So for me, Carry On definitely did not live up to what I was expecting. However, just because this book wasn’t for me, I won’t say it wasn’t a good. It just didn’t mesh with me very well, but at the same time, someone else could read it and love it! Another big thing for me is my general disliking for the enemy-to-lover trope, which is a big part of this book, so if that doesn’t bother you, Carry On is definitely a book I would recommend. This story is a different twist on fantasy, as well as a hint of satire, making the overall tone of the novel unique. Definitely give this book a try, and see what you think about this book.