Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.
I’m going to be honest: I read Fangirl and my least favourite parts of the book were the little excerpts from Simon Snow. So I went into this one a little apprehensive, because I didn’t think that I was going to be the target reader for this one. If nothing else, I can walk away from this read and know that I have a fairly good idea of the books I will enjoy.
For those who haven’t read Fangirl, Simon Snow is the Harry Potter of that world (or it was supposed to be, until one of the characters referenced Harry Potter). I was kind of hoping that a fully-fleshed out book would make me appreciate Simon and Baz, but it didn’t. Not only did it fail to shake off the Harry Potter connotations, but it felt like a bad parody of slash fan fiction. I was never into slash fan fiction, if only because it exists to titillate teenage girls. If you’re going to write a homosexual/bisexual character, than said character needs to exist beyond their sexual orientation. Which is to say, their sexuality should be a part of their identity, not the only discernible feature of it.
It didn’t help that reading Carry On felt like picking up Deathly Hallows without having read the first six books. I had been dropped into this story and told all these things about all these characters, but none of it felt organic. The characters didn’t have any chemistry with each other, the plot was outlandish and underdeveloped. When the book was able to shake off the Harry Potter connections and be its own story, it was good. I could also see sparks of Rowell’s signature humour – but these moments were few and far between.
Carry On was definitely not Rowell’s best effort, and I while I understand she was trying her hand a new genre, I hope she sticks to writing contemporary YA fiction.
Please note: this review originally appeared on my blog, What Kim Read Next. It has been reformatted and edited.