I’ve been excited for this book ever since Rainbow Rowell first announced it. Amidst all the anxiety and stress of my final year of university (and, frankly, all the anxiety and stress of everything that comes after that) this book was a constant source of excitement. It did not disappoint. It did, in fact, exceed every admittedly high expectation I had of it. I absolutely loved this book.
Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. After I’d finished reading I went back and reread my favourite parts – I’m still doing it now, weeks after I’ve finished reading it. In fact, I’ve been doing it so often I might as well just reread the entire thing. This book has become such a comfort to me. It feels like it’s been a favourite of mine for years, even though it’s been out for just over a month, and it’s not often that a book manages to feel both original and familiar.
There were so many things that I loved about this book I hardly know where to begin. I’ve seen other reviews comment that it was a little slow in the beginning and I suppose that on reflection it is, but I didn’t notice that at all as I was reading it. It may be because I don’t particularly mind if a book is slow, so I generally notice it less, but to be honest, I think it was mostly because I was enjoying being in the world of the story so much. The story itself probably really starts with the arrival of Baz, who is absolutely brilliant. I loved reading from his perspective. I’m also terribly fond of Simon. He’s a really great take on the good old Chosen One trope—there’s a lot in this book about how Chosen Ones are made, which I won’t go into the specifics of, but I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. The book itself felt very genuine. Rainbow Rowell’s characters are always stellar in terms of their believability, but it was more pronounced in the fantasy setting.
I’m actually surprised that I enjoyed the changing first person perspectives as much as I did. I always find that first person in general is very hit/miss for me, but I loved it in Carry On. The voices were very distinctive; it’s very clear whose point of view you’re reading from. Frankly I think it’s executed perfectly; not once did I find myself wishing that I was reading from one of the other characters’ perspective, and this is perhaps an odd thing to pick up on, but it was really nice that the characters actually swore. Particularly Simon. I also wasn’t sure whether I’d like the magic system, based on the glimpse we get of it in Fangirl, but I really liked that too. I liked it because even though it’s very cute and whimsical, it’s very much about the power of words, which was an absolutely brilliant touch.
Of course, I have to talk about the romance. Rainbow Rowell’s romances have always been my favourites, but this is certainly top of the list. I loved Simon and Baz’s relationship. They fit very well together—bickering and all—and I’d really love to read more about it. I love how much Baz loves Simon, and I love how Simon just bumbles through the whole thing like he does with literally everything else in his life. I don’t want to say too much, because it’s such a delight to read for yourself, so I’ll leave it at that.
I haven’t even mentioned Penelope and Agatha! I adored Penelope, and I really liked Agatha’s character arc. Penelope will get a lot of Hermione Granger parallels, and like a lot of the characters in this book that’s understandable, but to be honest, to me she’s no more Hermione Granger than Simon is Harry, or Baz is Draco. Sure, the comparasions are inevitable, but the book stands on its own, however many parallels you’d like to make. A lot of the comparisons aren’t as clear cut as they may seem to be, in that there are clear differences. The most notable of which is that of the Mage, who occupies the same mentor role as Dumbledore, but the Mage is treated very differently, which made for a very interesting character.
So, in summary: brilliant characters, great plot, comforting atmosphere and a romance that will give you the warm fuzzies. It’s a fantastic, fun read. Sometimes when I read a book it’ll just feel like a favourite book, and this was absolutely the case with Carry On. I’d love to read more Simon Snow novels from Rainbow Rowell, but I also wouldn’t be disappointed if this was the only one, because it’s brilliant, and it’s enough. This is definitely a book I’ll be rereading for years to come.