It’s probably not mandatory to read Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl before reading Carry On, but it certainly helps. Fangirl’s protagonist Cath struggled with going away to college, being separated from her twin for the first time, and the role that Simon Snow fanfiction played in her new reality. Fangirl featured excerpts of both “canon” Simon Snow, and Cath’s fanfic spin on the global literary phenomenon.
Carry On is a full length Simon Snow novel. Simon Snow is similar to another series with a famous boy wizard, but that is where the similarities end. Simon Snow’s world is wholly original. Carry On takes place during Simon’s eighth year at Watford, a school for magical children. Simon plays a unique role in the World of Mages; he is seen as the Chosen One, who will deliver them from evil. Namely, the Insidious Humdrum, who takes on the form of Simon as an eleven-year-old boy.
Simon has a best friend- Penelope, and a girlfriend- Agatha. Simon also has an archnemesis/roommate- Baz. When Baz doesn’t return at the beginning of term, Simon is suspicious. Is he planning something? Tensions are running high at Watford, and there is a divide between the Old Families and people who want social and political reforms.
When Baz finally returns at Watford, things are different. Instead of hating Baz, Simon is concerned about his welfare. And instead of wanting to kill Simon, Baz only wants to kiss him. As the World of Mages begins to crumble, Simon and Baz realize that they are stronger as allies than as enemies.
I loved this book. I loved everything about it. I loved Simon, and I loved Baz. I especially loved Penelope; she was smart and confident, and her fierce loyalty to Simon was so poignant. I loved the allusions to previous Simon Snow escapades that took place before Carry On; coming into the middle of the story was fascinating. I loved the way that Rowell developed her own language of magical spells by taking snippets of songs and popular phrases. I loved the multiple narrators; everyone has their own perspective, and the whole story wouldn’t have resonated as well if we only had Simon’s point of view. I loved the way that the tension between Simon and Baz built up slowly, so when they finally did come together, it made sense and it felt right.
I would absolutely recommend Carry On. I loved the Simon Snow excerpts in Fangirl, and I was so thrilled when Rainbow Rowell announced that she was going to write a Simon Snow novel. I devoured Carry On, and I know that this is a book that I am going to read multiple times. I have an Audible credit in my account, and I am going to use it to buy Carry On- probably as soon as I post this review! My only regret is that this is probably the end of Simon Snow- is receiving the rest of the series too much to ask for?