The book follows Simon, the protagonist in The Simon Snow series which is Fangirl’s Harry Potter equivalent, but where spells are cast through the power of language instead of wands.
Make no mistake though, this is not a Harry Potter novel. This is a melodrama, a comedy, a romance, and a ghost story. Simon Snow is a flawed protagonist who struggles to cast even the most simple of spells. As Baz says, “Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One ever chosen.” I can’t help but agree.
Simon is in his final year at the Watford School of Magicks and is having a terrible time: a goblin tried to kill him, his girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a vexation, his mentor keeps trying to send him away and his nemesis didn’t even bother to show up to school this year.
Simon is a hilarious character, who prefers to eat and battle dragons then go to school. His best friend, Penny, is so like Hermione, it’s amazing. She has a can-do attitude and refuses to let anyone tell her what to do, which I greatly admire. I really felt for Agatha, Simon’s ex-girlfriend. Throughout the story, we get the sense that Agatha is always cast as the damsel-in-distress and in the background of Simon’s story. I was happy that she finally got away from the world that made her so unhappy, and finally got to live the life she has always wanted. But my favourite character, by far, would have to be Tyrannus Basilton Grimm-Pitch – Baz.
Baz is a vampire, a fact that Simon has been trying to prove for years, but has always failed. He is the Draco Malfoy of this series, but a Draco that is desperately in love with Harry. Any Drarry shippers would be squealing into their pillows right now. The main plot of the story is Simon defeating the Insidious Humdrum, but the real story really revolves around Baz and Simon’s blossoming relationship, from enemies to friends to lovers. Baz has tried to kill Simon on many occasions and Simon has been trying to oust the ass for years. Their friendship was wonderful to watch grow, especially as Simon doesn’t realise what is happening. He doesn’t realise that his worry over the missing Baz has to do with his repressed feelings.
The Insidious Humdrum was a great revelation, as well as the Mage’s true nature. I nearly cried when I realised who Lucy actually was, and all that she went through for Simon. The ending was heartbreaking to read, and I am left wondering if Simon is going to have a tail for the rest of his life. And the fact that he no longer has any powers was gut-wrenching to experience.
I really enjoyed the magical element in this book. Magicians use wands, but the power of the spell, specifically the words, is how magic comes to life. The more popular a saying, phrase or word is, the more powerful the spell. I thought this was an intriguing way to liven up witchcraft and make this story original, especially when it is constantly compared to Harry Potter.
The ending was very well done: Simon and Penny are out in the real world and have a flat together like they have always wanted. Simon and Baz are together and they live happily ever after.
"No, I didn't."
I hate it when I dislike popular books. People enjoy them and rave about them all over the Internet, I get all pumped and then... Meh. Still I don't believe that I disliked this book because of the hype, I usually don't get influenced by it. I do believe though that between me and Rainbow Rowell it just doesn't work. "Fangirl" was an ok read for me, but just it, and when this book was in the read now section of Netgalley I decided to give it a try.
My complicated relationship with Ms Rowell though is not the only thing I blame when it comes to "Carry on". I was initially going to give it 3 stars because I enjoyed the angsty romance and because I didn't care about the Harry Potter-ish setting (I mean, there was an Harry, a Draco, an Hermione, an Hagrid, a Dumbledore, even a Percy, and since I knew that was going to be a strong feature in this book I forced myself not to mind) so everything was exciting and quirky and magickal. What I strongly disliked was how quickly the romance escalated and how I then realized how little I believed in this relationship (I love the "I hate you but I also love you" trope but only when I understand and know the characters, not when I was just given a glimpse into their past). I disliked how the side characters were unimportant and then important but then unimportant again, how the plot twists were forseeable and didn't leave me hanging at all. The villain was lame and we were given too much backstory and too little present action. Characters that could have been multi dimensional just fell flat. The magic system made me just angry. What do I hate more than spells that rhyme? Spells like the ones in this book: "Some like it hot" to heat up food or drinks,"Up, up and away" to fly and "And we all fall down" to land. There was even "Easy come, easy go. Little high, little low" which purpose I didn't get. Come on! Tell me I lack a sense of humor but if the power of these spells resides in their linguistic influence spare few paragraphs to explain it better, don't just make your characters look like fools! (Just, imagine Lord Voldemort cursing Harry Potter but, instead of Avada Kedavra, he uses the "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall" spell. Ridiculous, isn't it?)
Finally, and I don't believe I was influenced by Fangirl in this last complaint of mine, I found the writing not so great. It felt like a rushed fanfiction that needed to get to the point and then wrap everything up without a second thought to the characters and to the logic of the plot.
In few words, this book has been a huge let down and now I'm just sad. I do believe that if Rainbow Rowell had written these characters in a non fantasy universe it would have been better, much better and if you intend to read it by all means do it! People have loved this book and I'm part of the minority but, as for me, I'm just very disappointed.
I really enjoyed the exerts of the Simon Snow books from Fangirl, both the actual books and the fanfiction, so when this book was announced I was excited. I knew going in that my expectations were high, it was the full story of a character I already liked and it was Rainbow Rowell. Thankfully, it not only didn’t disappoint, it was a fun and addicting book to read.
For the first few chapters, I was a little worried because it felt like I was missing part of the story. There were references to events that had happened in Simon’s first six years of school that I never got to read and, to my brain so used to series, it felt like I’d skipped a few books. Once I got used to it, I got completely pulled into Simon Snow’s story.
My absolute favourite thing was the relationship between Simon and Baz. It was everything that I was hoping for based off the exerts from Fangirl. It was antagonistic and sarcastic and complicated. It was wonderful. I really loved that we got some Baz POVs because they really helped flesh out his character and made him more sympathetic. Both Simon and Baz, and all the main characters, were well developed and showed growth through the book.
This is one book I can see myself picking up again and again to read and re-read(and re-read) certain scenes. Even when things went a little over the top dramatic, it was just so enjoyable and fun to experience that I didn’t care. To pick apart the very few issues I had with the book felt too much like nitpicking and I really just wanted to preserve the happiness I felt while reading this book.