I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies.
When I found out about Carry On, I figured it would be either epic or not so epic. It fell in the latter category for me.
I’ve never really have been a Rainbow Rowell fan girl. I’ve only read Fangirl and a short story by her. And while I liked Fangirl enough, the short story was lacking.
Then there’s also the fact that I sort of skimmed all the Simon Snow fan fiction because Simon and Baz reminded me of Harco (Harry and Draco) and I’m not a fan of Harco.
I was hoping though, that with further development I could love Simon and Baz, that they would not have the same toxicity of Harco….but…I didn’t like the book and it wasn’t because of the relationship. Though, I didn’t sense any chemistry between either Simon and Baz (and I was about 200 pages in before I gave up).
What really threw me off from this book was how vague it was.
Objectively, the construction isn’t halfway bad. It’s readable. And that’s actually a pretty decent accomplishment in YA-read a Colleen Houck book and then tell me that it’s readable and then get back to me. Although, the multiple POV changes are grating after awhile, especially since they’re so random and some of the chapters are obscenely short.
That vague feeling was what bothered me about the whole experience. I think the world building was intentionally vague, in part, so that it couldn’t outright rip off Harry Potter-but who are we kidding we know it was basically the substitute of Harry Potter in Fangirl Rowell basically out right says it. But instead of sort of parodying Potter fics in the best of ways, it’s one of those fics I’d automatically x-nay because it’s just too random.
Like I said, the summary and cover seem to indicate that Baz and Simon are going to be a thing, but Baz doesn’t even make an appearance until a good quarter of the book (150) and Simon seems too focus on his girlfriend to even notice him-save to whine about how he cheated with said girlfriend.
I guess one could make the argument that Rowell is showing the randomness of some fandom ships-because let’s face it in fandom you see it all. There are Giant Squid fics out there, people. But I really don’t think that’s what she was intending. To me, it was almost as if she wanted us to forget that Carry On was a fan fic written by Cath and not the cannon Simon Snow.
I think that might’ve been what killed the story.
If the book would’ve sort of gone all out there in parody mode with it’s tropes it might’ve been more enjoyable to me. Instead, it read very, very, bland with a plot that seemed to want to hide itself.
Which is fine, perfectly fine if you’re not trying to make a parody of Harry Potter.
The reason Harry Potter works so well is that it’s plots are so absorbing as well as the characters. I couldn’t get absorbed in either aspect here. I wanted to love Simon and Baz, and was thinking hey maybe when Baz gets involved into this mess it will work better but….
In fact, the chemistry between the two was so lacking it made me sad. Simon’s relationship with Agatha broke up ridiculously fast. I didn’t get why they were a couple either, but it really reminded me of a fan fic where the cannon pairing it broken up fast to force another couple together.
And that couple was Simon and Baz.
Honestly, out of the amount of interaction the characters were having if anyone should’ve been a couple it should’ve been Simon and Penny…but….no.
Clearly in the friend zone like Hermione. ANd of course, that’s not the couple I was rooting for. I was rooting for Simon and Baz, but more or less because of the blurb and the cover. When together, they weren’t that magical. In fact, they were sort of forced together like Harco is often forced together.
And that dear readers, is not a good thing.