“You were the sun, and I was crashing into you. I’d wake up every morning and think, ‘This will end in flames.”Rainbow Rowell, Carry On
An intro. In Rowell’s Fangirl we read about Cath and her love for the knock off Harry Potter series, Simon Snow. Cath spends ALL her time writing Simon Snow fan fic. And Fangirl actually has some really interesting points about the value of fan fiction and creativity and stan culture, ect ect.
Then I discovered the Carry On book I’d heard so much was in fact, the same Carry On mentioned in Fangirl. THEN I discovered Wayward Son was coming out in like three days. And I said (That’s So Raven voice) oh snap.
So I read Carry On, then picked up Wayward Son and in two days had devoured both.
And between those two books we’ve got a lot of ground to cover so we’re going to #jumpin.
Carry On is one wild long commentary on fanfic and tropes. And it was really interesting to watch unfold. It’s Simon’s last year at his magical school. He’s got a girlfriend, a Hermione-like best friend. He also has an old super powerful wizard dude who uses him but doesn’t tell him what’s going on. And Baz. Imagine enemies forever levels like Draco Malfoy but with dark hair and also he’s a vampire.
With that set up it’s possible that you’re like, I’ve read HP (many times). I don’t need this story. But pretty much from page 1 the stories are different. Simon and friends are very self aware and have a lot of questions about the ‘plan’ in a way that Harry didn’t really have. And the dynamics are different. There’s a real affection between Harry and Hermione that I didn’t really get here. Also the whole gf thing doesn’t really work out. In fact, Simon and Baz end up being a thing. Who would have guessed!
And perhaps the largest difference from HP, the ‘plan’ doesn’t equate to a traditional happy ending.
The story is enjoyable and fun. As for many fanfics, the plot is taken care of via cannon so Rowell had the freedom to delve into the characters and their development. In fact, she does it so well, I reallllllly liked Baz.
Unfortunately I didn’t really like Simon. Which I don’t think was Rowell’s intention. We’re supposed to question tropes, but he is definitely still the focus of the story. But, my love for Baz compelled me to Wayward Son.
Wayward Son is not quite the plot that Carry On was but it was fun to see what a magical community in America might look like! Our rag tag troupe goes on a cross country road trip; with different magical territories and vampires run Las Vegas. So that part was cool!
I thought the spells were interesting. They’re based on phrases and song lyrics. Also apparently, Carry On and Wayward Son are NOT alluding to Kansas’ song Carry on Wayward Son??? I was shook.
Back on topic; I liked the time we spent in Baz’s brain! It was a bit annoying that Simon and Baz sorta figured out their issues in Carry On then reverted back to being a mess in Wayward Son. Also the ex-girlfriend bit was weird and the brainy best friend focus felt two two dimensional.
But in all fairness, we do know that Wayward Son is book two of three. Maybe four or five. Rowell has been a little cagey on exact numbers. So I shall reserve further judgement.
Regardless of the rough patches in book two, I still recommend both Simon Snow novels! And I hope Rowell doesn’t make us wait too long for book three! If you need another Rowell book to tide you over, check out Eleanor and Park!