If you finished Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and wondered what it would be like to read some of Cath’s Simon Snow fanfic then Carry On will push your buttons in all the right places.
Alas, the Simon Snow aspect of Fangirl wasn’t my favorite part of that story — nor did I necessarily find myself wanting to actually read Cath’s final alternate version of the adventures of Simon Snow. So, I guess you could say that Carry On wasn’t my cup of tea.
Coming back to school for his final year, Simon Snow has just defeated the forces of evil, rescued his friends and is preparing for his great destiny to come. But things are all going as well as it would appear. His girlfriend, Agatha, was seen last year talking in the woods to his mortal enemy and roommate, Baz. And there are forces of evil attacking his school in every effort to kill the anointed magical world savior.
Simon Snow was a thinly veiled Harry Potter stand-in used by Rowell for Fangirl to allow Cath to have a fictional wizard to obsess over and create fan-fiction for without incurring the wrath of J.K. Rowling’s lawyers. We got hints about Simon and his world from Cath and her friends. And after reading all six-hundred or so pages of Carry On I feel like a little went a long way.
I never connected with these characters or universe in the way I have with other Rowell offerings in the past. Maybe my expectations were too high after her string of three great books in the last two years. And while I’m not one who would say an author can or should publish the same type of work over and over again, I’m not sure the world of high fantasy mixed with teenage angst necessarily works for Rowell. The authenticity of her characters in her first four offerings was what drew me to them — something I found distinctly lacking this book.
This is the first time Rowell has let me down — and based on the reviews I’m seeing on social media and book sites, it’s apparently I’m alone in feeling this. It doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for Rowell in any way. It just leaves me feeling disappointed and like I missed something that all the other “cool kids” enjoyed but I didn’t.