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Carry On

by Rainbow Rowell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Simon Snow (1), Fangirl (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,7032412,292 (4.08)87
Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen. That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right. Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here. It's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.… (more)
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    The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (tralliott)
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    Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (Anonymous user)
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    In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (nessreader)
    nessreader: Fanfic tropes, meta, swashbuckling ya fantasy, woobie heroes and a bucket of angst, not heteronormative.
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    Anonymous user: Fantasy that thoughtfully plays on the tropes that Harry Potter made famous.
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    mysimas: Playful, humorous fantasy with a strong focus on the developing romance.

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» See also 87 mentions

English (239)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (241)
Showing 1-5 of 239 (next | show all)
Good story but lacks in character. looking forward tot he next in the series ( )
  cfulton20 | Nov 13, 2023 |
Ok, I have read another of Rainbow Rowell's books, Eleanor and Park, and it was enjoyable, but this book was very difficult to read. I got it on audio and listened to 2 out of 11 discs. I was going to stop after the first disc but decided maybe it would pick up after the beginning explanatory bit. Nah. I really did try, but I cared nothing for any of the characters and honestly didn't even really have any sense of who they are supposed to be. The story is not so much in the present as it is in the main character constantly recounting everything that has happened in the past. Constantly. And the reason he would have so much to talk about in the first place? We are thrown into the story in the middle and only get constant vague details of past important events. Also, I had read that it is a sort of Harry Potter fanfic and honestly I can really see that at the very beginning but afterwards it veers and becomes something completely on its own so I don't understand why it's base needs to depend so heavily on someone else's ideas. It bothers me to quit reading books but I was bored out of my mind listening to this one and while usually I look forward to my transit because of audio books, I had just started listening to music because I really didn't want to hear more of it. I just didn't see how it could improve. Maybe somehow it does? But I just have too many books I want to read to stick out for disc after disc. ( )
  rianainthestacks | Nov 5, 2023 |
My first Rainbow Rowell read, and I quite liked it. Shares a lot with Harry Potter while deconstructing it at the same time. ( )
  Tom_Wright | Oct 11, 2023 |
Let's recap briefly: [a:Rainbow Rowell|4208569|Rainbow Rowell|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1342324527p2/4208569.jpg] wrote a book ([b:Fangirl|16068905|Fangirl|Rainbow Rowell|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1355886270s/16068905.jpg|21861351]) about what it was like to be a Big Name Fan and in order to capture this experience she made up a fictional Harry Potter series, which the protagonist of Fangirl wrote a fanfic about. Then, Rainbow Rowell decided to actually write this fictional Harry Potter series, which is Carry On. Meta'ed out yet?

But, honestly, this kind of makes sense, because the Simon Snow snippets were the best part of Fangirl. Rowell is nothing if not wicked clever, and it shines the most in the way that she used the fact that everyone knows and understands Harry Potter to include huge swathes of background in a couple of paragraphs, which gave her inversions and subtle changes context. One of the coolest feats of literatures someone's pulled off in awhile, but I was worried that it was not particularly sustainable in a stand-alone novel.

Good news, bad news? The way in which Harry Potter provides a context and background to Carry On is probably the strongest part. The whole book exists in a dialogue with Harry Potter and the two most interesting themes of the novel grow from here:
1. Doesn't it kind of suck to be a mage in a magical/muggle world? The way HP is set up, you can only be a wizard if you're a wizard (you don't get the basic education required to be anything else.) What if you want to be a doctor or a mathematician or a chef in a big restaurant? Suck to be you: wizarding world or bust. But in the HP world, no one discusses this. Rowell actually explores this concept and how much magic destines people.
2. If you're a mage in a magical/muggle hybrid world, and you get to go to magic school, the rest of life is a downhill slog of hiding and never being around your people. Another thing Rowell does great is evoking the culture and community of teenagers and it's really on show here: the sadness of graduation is clear in a way that Rowlings did not succeed at.
3. I love the loyal opposition. That you can be boyhood enemies and play kid games, but if there's going to be a war and its going to be real, how does that change and mature your enmity. Because so much of childhood opposition is the loyal opposition: the person you depend on to antagonize you and play the foil.
So, cool. This part is fun.

Bad news: The book reads like Harry/Draco fanfiction. Not that I read fanfiction (only pro-singularity propoganda, [b:Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality|10016013|Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality|Eliezer Yudkowsky|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1293582551s/10016013.jpg|14911331].) But still. So still some good news, in that those of us who have spent the last 14 years and 7 books growing to love the Harry Potter characters will be invested off the bat. But on the downside, very little actually happens. Literally, the first 20% of the book is HarrySimon wandering around HogwartsWatford looking for Baz. The majority of the rest is Simon and Baz mooning at each other.
Also, it reads to me like Cath actually wrote it, i.e. that it was written by an 18 year old girl: Is falling in love with your sworn enemy actually a thing that happens in real life? Just one minute you're fighting and the next you're swooning and then a second later you're "snogging"? OK...
Also, I talk a lot. I think in words. I need to talk to process my thoughts. My friends get sick of hearing me think out loud. Both the thinking and the talking. I get told "most people don't think that much; they just do" a lot. In Rainbow Rowell's world, I am both basically selectively mute and impulsive. Her characters talk about everything always and at length (usually sounding like self-important teenagers in their word choice and punctuation.) I have never in real life met someone who articulates quite so many thoughts, and definitely not a 17 year old boy who does so.

Finally, despite having read approximately 20 pages of Baz's thoughts on Simon's hair, I still have no idea why they actually like each other in anyway. (Besides the hair. It seems easier to have your boyfriend wear a wig than to date your sworn enemy because he has nice hair.)

So, in conclusion, its a fun romp, with interesting commentary on the world of Harry Potter and school fantasy in general, and it's the only book you'll ever read that's a fictionalized version of a fanfic of a fictional novel, so there's that. ( )
  settingshadow | Aug 19, 2023 |
Some books read like poetry. This one is like... a train crash made of poetry. A good one. A beautiful one. It's funny, and silly, and yes, it could be Draco/Harry fanfiction, but I think constantly referring to the comparisons with "Harry Potter" does the book a disservice (not that being filed off fanfiction is a bad thing, or being fanfiction is a bad thing, but it's not the entirety of what this book is). It's a book about two boys in a magical world, with destinies neither of them want or understand, and like a lot of kids in high school, they don't get along. Until they do, and it's very, very cute. The first time Baz looks at Simon while he's sleeping was adorably sad. And I love the way Baz thinks of Simon. I also think the book's representation of bi-phobia and the stigma of "not being queer of enough" was painfully accurate. It's also a book about the people around them, and how we are all so very, very human. Even when we technically aren't. Also, Rowell isn't a TERF, so far as I'm aware, so that helps. And this book is loads queerer than HP could ever dream of. Unapollagetically so.

Ebb is no Hagrid. There are obvious comparisons. But Ebb is a wonderful character, and her friendship with Simon is lovely. Ebb's portions of the book HURT, but in a good way. The ending was brilliant, but damn. I do think the way the magic works is kind of silly, but I like the idea that, essentially, we give words power, which in turn makes them powerful enough to direct magic. Because isn't that just what books are? And it's how a lot of magic systems work anyway. Whether it's someone making up spell-sounding words using an old language or focusing on intent to action.

I love all the relationships in this book. The network of friendships. The way characters care about each other.

I kind of struggle with parts of the climax. Something about the progressive leader who is actually implementing good reform is actually the big bad is... mmm. I love the twist. It makes sense. And there are certainly plenty of progressives on the spectrum who are terrible people. But like... his reforms were by and large actually GOOD. He was combating a lot of racism and classism, and most of what he did WAS for the better. Yes, the rich SHOULD be taxed more. Yes, the rich DO hoard art. There are many documented articles about art auctions where random Van Goghs or Da Vincis appear from some rich person's basement, only to disappear back into it. And these people hide it from world. Also, I'm just saying, a lot of rich people hoard weapons, too. Plenty of these folks have their own personal armories.

I don't think using his girlfriend for a ritual or traumatizing his son was necessary, and I don't think breaking into people's homes was necessary, either. But I'm hoping the takeaway from this isn't "progressive reform can only be achieved using bad means, and all progressives are just as bad, if not worse, than conservatives". It's kind of... a weird subversion of "seize the means of production"? But really, "progressivism is just fascism under a mask" is not a great overall takeaway here.
Overall, it's a fun climax. Very well written. It's just... mm. But the epilogue is wonderful.

I'm hoping Simon gets his magic back. He was so sad to be without out when he wasn't at Watford, and it's hard for me to imagine what he's like when he literally can't use it anymore. I thought this was going to come at some point, and maybe it does with his therapist (and I'm glad he's SEEING a therapist, and suggesting that Baz see one), but it didn't... Maybe the idea is that since he's with Baz and has the wings and tail he's not... really without it? He's fine? Or maybe that was meant to be covered when he almost broke up with Baz for Baz's sake during the ball, because Simon was magic-less. Which isn't really the issue. I don't know. I'd like it to be addressed in book 2. I'm sad for him.

A lovely introduction to the series. Look forward to book 2. ( )
  AnonR | Aug 5, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 239 (next | show all)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rowell, Rainbowprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Merani, FedericaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morton, EuanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Laddie and Rosey -
May you fight your own battles
and forge your own wings.
First words
I walk to the bus station by myself.
Bunce stumbles. coughing. I take her arm and lean against her, propping her up. I'd be surprised if she could cast a cliché right now.
"On love's light wings!"

It's a hard spell and an old spell, and it works only if you understand the Great Vowel Shift of the Sixteenth Century - and if you're stupidly in love.
“It’s good to see you girls spending time together,” she says. “It’s good to have a life that passes the Bechdel test.”
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen. That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right. Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here. It's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

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Carry On - The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters.
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