Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who’s ever been chosen.
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.
Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here — it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.
Review by Aico
If you had the chance to read Rainbow Rowell’s “Fangirl”, you’ll probably know Simon Snow and Basilton Grimm-Pitch already. The protagonists of “Carry On”, published in 2015, are the same as in Cath’s fanfictions in “Fangirl”. Rowell decided to make all the fan’s wishes come true and publish the adventures of Simon and Baz in an own story featuring ghosts, vampires and of course: love.
The story is set at a school for magicians called Watford. Students learn to control their powers there and in this world, magic is only as powerful as your own vocabulary. The words to use magic are everyday phrases or lyrics that most of the time describe what you want to do in a metaphorical way. So “As You Were” is a cleaning spell to cause objects back where they were while “Come out, come out, wherever you are” is used to reveal hidden things. The school’s run by The Mage, a powerful magician.
Simon Snow, our protagonist, is the chosen saviour of this world of magic and couldn’t struggle more to live up to that expectation. His magic wand is often useless to him and his magic is so powerful that it’s too much to handle, which causes Simon to put things on fire A LOT. His girlfriend broke up with him recently, only to admire his nemesis and roommate Baz instead and a monster called The Insidious Humdrum runs around erasing the magic from huge areas while wearing Simon’s face.
While Simon’s determined to stop the Humdrum from causing further damage, the Mage only seems interested in getting Simon away from school to keep him safe. After Simon is visited by the ghost of Baz’s mother – Baz is not there to hear it himself at this point – the two enemies decide to join forces to find out about the cause of her sudden death. Simon learns to trust Baz in the process and the reader learns that Baz has been in love with his roomie all along instead of hating him.
So while we follow them and their friends Penny and Agatha solve the mystery around Baz’s mother, they discover not only the true goal and nature of the Insidious Humdrum, but also their kinda complicated relationship. The book ends with a surprising plot twist and a big boss fight finale. What’s not to like?
The story has strong similarities to the Harry Potter universe, which is intended! Simon resembles Harry, while Baz is supposed to be a lot like Draco. The Mage is very close to Dumbledore and Penny is clearly Hermine. The school is also very much like Hogwarts with its location in Britain and the sorting of its students into houses.
You get to know the different characters of the book and fall in love with almost everyone. The most amazing part of the book is not the story itself though, but the clever structure of building Simon’s and Baz’s relationship. From how they were destined to be roommates, forced to behave and not kill each other in their room due to a spell and then slowly grew close to each other despite their differences. The different first-person narratives allow the reader to read about this development from both the protagonist’s perspectives, which makes it even more interesting and even frustrating sometimes. Overall, the characters contribute well to the plot and their interactions are quite funny and enjoyable.
“Carry On” was an amazing read and if you like stories about the supernatural and magic – clumsy protagonists, sassy drama queen-antagonists and of course, fluffy (queer) romance, you will enjoy it just as much! Though parts of the ending seem a bit strange, especially according to some ‘changes’ Simon has to go through and though the story is a bit obvious sometimes, I am more than eager to read the second book “Wayward Son” as soon as it’s published. Check out Rainbow Rowell’s amazing work and fall in love with Snowbaz like I did!
What are your thoughts on the book?