Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Published: October 6th 2015 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: Paper Book
Length: 522 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, GLBT, Paranormal, Magic
Rating: 4 stars
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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 sets 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.
Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.
I am unbelievably torn with Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. On one hand, I adore fanfiction. I read fanfiction and I write it. For me, the Simon Snow fanfiction bits of Fangirl were the bright spots among what turned out to be a rather slow and boring book. So when Rainbow Rowell announced she was going to write a proper book using the Simon Snow characters and world we caught little glances of in Fangirl, I was super excited. I wasn’t even put off by the 522 page count. But then I eagerly cracked my new copy of Carry On open and my heart sank. Rainbow Rowell had committed one of my biggest peeves; the changing POV. Every chapter, and sometimes ‘chapters’ were a couple of sentences long, was told from a different character’s point of view. I almost threw the book out the window. No. Just, no.
I’m not fond of first person narrative either. Add in the changing POV and I was incredibly annoyed. Each chapter would backtrack to retell the events that had just happened from another character’s point of view. So, we were getting each scene from a different person two or three times depending on who was there. Redundant and pointless. The length of the book was starting to make sense. I was about ready to pull my hair out. But, I’m a dedicated fanfiction shipper and I pushed through and read the whole book. (I don’t know why some person, an editor or proofreader, didn’t point out how much people dislike first person narrative and changing POV. They’re the number one and two criticisms on fanfiction or books in general. Why, Rainbow!? Why!?)
Being a fangirl and shipper often means that you are willing to read utter crap as long as it has your fandom and the characters you like. You have to wade through a lot of mediocrity to find those hidden gems in fanfiction. I’m used to it but I was disappointed to find it in a proper published book. If Rainbow’s goal in writing Carry On was to keep the fanfiction feel of the story, she accomplished that. But she accomplished it by keeping the worst traits of fanfiction, the stuff I personally have to look past to be able to enjoy a story. References to events before this book, in earlier school years, are sprinkled around the book and since we have no way to read those earlier books, this is just madness inducing. The plot was a bit muddled and could be confusing in places. It is also slow and meandering in the first half and a little rushed in the second half. The magic system is very creative and the details of Simon’s past and how the Insidious Humdrum was created are fantastic. In all, I loved the story and the characters of Carry On by Rainbow Rowell but the manner it was written in was not my cup of tea.
I finally broke down and got an ereader, a Kindle. Now, for years I dug my heels in about getting an ereader for one very simple reason; I don’t think I should have to pay for books. I can practically hear you all frown. I know perfectly well that people buying book is how an author gets paid but the fact of the matter is that the public library system was created so that everyone would have access to books regardless of their financial situation. I don’t have the extra cash lying around to spend $20 on every book I want to read. At least with the public library system I can get books without making myself destitute. Books are a luxury item and as much as I love to read, paying the bills and getting food on the table comes first. When you are counting your metaphorical pennies to make sure you have enough for gas to get to and from work, buying books is pretty much out of the question.
At least, I can get the books that the library has available and therein lays the problem. I don’t know what system the library uses to choose books but it is very… limited, let us say. If I’m patient, I can usually get main stream and popular release books a couple of weeks after they come on the market. I’m mostly out of luck if I want something else. In the past, I’ve tried to request books and sometimes that works. Again, I have to be patient but I’m mostly waiting for months to see if my request will pan out. Sometimes my requesting and waiting is done in vain and my answer is a big, fat NO. And I’ve noticed a bit of a trend with these big, fat NO’s. Almost all of my requests for books with homosexual or transgender characters end up in refusals.
This is both annoying and disappointing since I really, really want to read these books. I find nontraditional relationships and characters to be more interesting than the humdrum and more familiar characters I see in more readily available books. Frankly, those characters are boring and if I am forced to read another book with a whiny girl or “mysterious, with some dark secret” boy I may just shoot someone, probably the authors of these cookie cutter books. My kingdom for something truly original! I’m also perfectly willing to admit that I might have a bit of a kink with homosexual or transgender characters. Oh well, nobody is perfect.
So, I broke down and got a Kindle. Well, I stole my Mom’s old one but it works just fine and serves my purposes. At least I’m not spending $80 on the cheap Kindle or, good lord, $200 on the newer touchscreen ones. I also figure that at least an ebook is cheaper than a paper book. (Although in my mind they are still too expensive. After all, it’s just data.) So I set up the old Kindle to my Amazon account, added my credit card (whimper), and spent $10 on two books I’ve wanted to read for over a year.
Scarlet and the White Wolf by Kirby Crow
Scarlet of Lysia is an honest peddler, a young merchant traveling the wild, undefended roads to support his aging parents. Liall, called the Wolf of Omara, is the handsome, world-weary chieftain of a tribe of bandits blocking a mountain road that Scarlet needs to cross. When Liall jokingly demands a carnal toll for the privilege, Scarlet refuses and an inventive battle of wills ensues, with disastrous results. Scarlet is convinced that Liall is a worthless, immoral rogue, but when the hostile countryside explodes into violence and Liall unexpectedly fights to save the lives of Scarlet’s family, Scarlet is forced to admit that the Wolf is not the worst ally he could have, but what price will proud Scarlet ultimately have to pay for Liall’s friendship?
Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman
A lonely boy walking along a highway one autumn evening meets the boy of his dreams, a boy who happens to have died decades ago and haunts the road. Awkward crushes, both bitter and sweet, lead him to face youthful dreams and childish fears. With its cast of offbeat friends, antiques, and Ouija boards, Vintage is not your typical romance but does offers readers a memorable blend of dark humor, chills and love.
Of course, another book I was looking at wasn’t available in ebook format. It was really weird because books 2 and 3 of the series were available in ebook format but book 1 wasn’t. I had to request it. (You have to be fucking kidding me!) So even when I have a Kindle, I can’t win. (Fail Amazon. Fail big.) I plan on only getting one or two ebooks a month. I figure that way I shouldn’t put a bent in my budget. (My Mom spent a lot of money when she first go her Kindle before she managed to rein herself in.)
Would you all be interested in seeing reviews for these books or would you rather I just stick with the YA and middle grade fantasy books I have up here now?