Note: This review contains spoilers regarding Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.
Having read two YA novels that I didn’t enjoy as much as I hoped (Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson) I decided to reread a book I read last year (I think!) that I knew I loved. Thus, I just finished rereading Carry on by Rainbow Rowell, and what a good decision it turned out to be!
Carry On is mainly about two characters first introduced in Rainbow Rowell’s novel Fangirl, Simon and Baz, as they negotiate the magical world which is pretty much falling apart around them.
One of the main reasons I love this novel so much is that even though it is about fantasy (mages, vampires, numpties, dragons…) it feels like a contemporary. There is no ‘other’ magical world, it’s just a hidden part of the world we know. There are loads of references to current pop-culture which for me really grounded it; I love how Penelope compares Agatha to Jessica Ennis even in the build-up to the big, tense showdown at the end! In the same way, I love how the characters seem so real and grounded like when Agatha points out that she left her wand in the car because it didn’t fit in her coat pocket. It just makes them so much more relatable and makes me care about them that much more.
Obviously the main romance of the novel is also a selling point. I’ve never been a huge fan of the enemies to lovers trope but here I love how it’s done, how it turns out that neither Baz nor Simon ever really hated each other. The love triangle trope is also cleverly avoided (I hate that trope!) even to the point where, when Penny mentions love triangles, it feels like an in-joke because we know that Baz and Simon have feelings for each other and Penny doesn’t, which I love! Aside from tropes I just think Baz and Simon are a pair I can really get behind, like how can I be expected to resist interactions like this?
“I’m not the Chosen One,” he says.
I meet his gaze and sneer. My arm is a steel band around his waist. “I choose you,” I say. “Simon Snow, I choose you.”
They’re just so cute!
In terms of characters aside from Baz and Simon, I really like Penny (which I would expect) but perhaps more unexpectedly I really like Agatha too. I feel like if Agatha wasn’t given a chance to narrate her own story she might have come across as quite annoying at times, but with her voice included in the novel, I find it really easy to understand her motives and her feelings and emotions and she actually turns out being a character that I identify with a lot.
Anyway, I feel like I am quickly approaching gushing territory, so I should probably stop now. What I can say is that this book has firmly planted itself onto my ‘books that make me happy’ list and that I’m sure this won’t be the last time I reread it (and gush about it)!