Rainbow Rowell, famous for her realistic YA fiction, has blurred genre lines again, and the result is spectacular. With Landline, Rowell’s first novel for “grown ups,” realistic was merged with sci-fi. In Carry On, readers get straight up fantasy, but in a new, refreshing light.
Carry On is the story of Simon Snow, the Chosen One, who is prophesied to save magic. The Insidious Humdrum has been terrorizing the magical community for years, creating pockets of space where magic cannot exist. It is Simon’s eighth year at Watford School of Magicks, he is on the outs with his girlfriend, the Mage thinks he should leave, and his rival and roommate didn’t even bother to show up. Simon starts the year at a complete loss. Mysteries slowly arise that Simon needs to solve, but he needs the help of the one person he hates. The story is told not only through Simon’s eyes, but also through the eyes of his best friend, Penny, his girlfriend, Agatha, his mentor, the Mage, and even his arch nemesis, Baz.
If this sounds like a mildly familiar set up to you, it should. In an interview with Popsugar, Rainbow Rowell stated:
“The references to Harry Potter and other stories are really intentional in this book, especially at beginning… I want you to feel like, oh this is familiar. How many times have you met an orphan who is supposed to save the world. That’s a very common theme. I want you to feel like, “Oh he’s the most powerful person ever, and he’s an orphan, and he’s gotta save the world.” I want you in that first chapter to feel like, “Oh, I totally know where this is going,” so that when it doesn’t go that way there’s a feeling of, “What?! What’s happening? Why is this not working?” … As for the characters themselves and the magic itself it was really easy for me to keep that distinct. It’s a different kind of magic, it’s a different kind of magical world. It’s more of a modern world. There’s nothing really Victorian about Simon’s world. And Simon, himself, and Penny all felt very distinct to me.”
Carry On is, in a sense, Harry Potter fan fiction. It’s also slightly based on Rowell’s own book, Fangirl. However, it is not completely either of those things. Carry On truly stands as its own book. It has Rowell’s wry humor, it has love, it has exciting adventure, but as in Rowell’s other novels, it has honesty.
The reason I love Rainbow Rowell’s writing as much as I do is because she captures real life in a way others don’t. Even though this book contains magic, it is no different in its realism. Not only are these characters real, they’re diverse. Carry On is set in England, where a high percentage of the population is Indian. It would be absurd NOT to see Indian heritage represented. This book also contains characters of varying sexuality. If you’ve ever shipped Harry/Draco, this is your book.
I’m a pretty voracious reader, but this book is especially captivating. I finished this 500+ page book in two work days. Carry On is refreshingly well written modern YA romantic fantasy. If that sounds like your type of thing, go buy it now.
Have you read it yet? Let me know how much you loved it!!!