Monday, March 14, 2016

Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm glad I finally got to read this book. It's been out since October and I kept putting it off. Luckily, I was able to get an e-galley from NetGalley and I read it in about a week.

I'm not sure if this series would have worked on the whole since there are a lot of similarities to Harry Potter, but it is a good story. There might not have been a chance for the whole story of Watford to come out, but I think that there could still be more, maybe them at university?

In any case, the story was a bit odd in parts because there was a lot of talk about things that had happened that we as the reader didn't get to see because it took place ages before this story starts. There was just enough to let you know, but not always enough to leave you satisfied.

The pacing was the worst problem I had with this book and is the major reason that it only get 3 1/2 stars. Nothing really happens until about 50% of the way through the book, which was a drag. I kept waiting for something to happen, for something to get the action going, but literally nothing of any import happens until much too far into the book. I honestly thought about DNFing it a few times.

If you manage to make it through to 50%, though, it's almost like you have to finish at that point.

As far as characters go, I liked most of them.

Simon was a fractured "hero" that was a complicated ball of emotions, one that was understandable and wasn't an over exaggeration.

Baz was the most interesting. If we were going with the Harry Potter comparison, Baz's point of view chapters were what the fans would've wanted from Draco, at least those that loved Draco.

Penelope was a fresh character, a burst of color that was pleasant to read about, even if she did come across as a bit surly sometimes. Her character did seem to give up a lot at the end, things that we thought she'd end up doing, but after the emotional trauma of the showdown, I'm not sure I blame her.

Agatha, the girlfriend of the Chosen One, was the most annoying. I didn't feel any compasion for her. She spent a lot of time whining about how she didn't want to fall into the trope of the damsel in distress (not her exact words, I'm paraphrasing), but she ended up doing just that and it didn't seem to bother her in the end even when it was her own fault. She was a bit too pigheaded for my taste, too wasteful.

There's also something about the multiple points of view that bothered me. I'm not sure if I like it or not. It's a bit conflicting. I'm not sure if it's a spoiler, but just in case, SPOILER!!!

There were multiple points of view and one of them was Lucy. Through her narrative, we're lead to find out that she was the Mage's (Davy's) lover and Simon's mother. She seemed like she could've been an interesting character, but the problem I had was that, even though we find out all of this information about her and how she and the Mage created Simon, no one else in the story does. Simon never finds out about his parents, the Mage is dead by the end. Anyone that could've shed light on that for Simon is gone. There is literally no resolution to that gaping question for him.

I feel partly that this was a cheap way to let the readers know without actually saying it in the text to anyone else. I also feel that Simon would've ended up even more emotionally damaged in the end had he found out. He "kills" the Mage, loses his magic, and then finds out that the Mage was his father, his mother's dead, and now he's Normal. That would've been devastating and probably lead to more than a few suicidal thoughts, what with the guilt behind it.

I am glad that he and Baz figured out their problems and ended up together. Their relationship is complicated, but what realistic relationship isn't? It doesn't all fall in line easily for them. They had to come to terms with their feelings after years of antagonism. Finding a happy medium for themselves, after all the shit they went through, was a salvation for Carry On.

My conclusion is that this is a good book, it's worth reading, but I wouldn't put it at the top of anyone's list. It doesn't have a huge flash of interest that would make me want to shake people who haven't read it and demand to know why not.

Music Recommendation

I was listening to Christina Perri on YouTube and this song came up. It's called Arms and it reminds me of Baz and Simon's love at the end.

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