Tea & Book Chat: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

This book is EVERYTHING.  Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is an anomaly of a book for even getting the opportunity to be published.  The story’s inception happened in the popular YA contemporary novel Fangirl (also by Rowell – also a favorite of mine and you can read my review here LINK) about a fanfic author named Cath who has serious feels for the characters in the Simon Snow series.  Cath writes slash fanfic about Simon Snow (very similar to Harry Potter) and Baz (very similar to Draco Malfoy) and Rainbow’s newest book Carry On picks up in their eighth year at Watford as the supposed final novel in the series.  Us as readers have insight into their world through Cath’s Fangirl fanfic and knowledge of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I had already fallen in love with Simon and Baz through Cath’s intense love for them so while I was skeptical about Carry On, I was always planning on reading it and hopefully enjoying it as an extension of Fangirl.  Carry On ended up being so much more than that.  It’s a story in it’s own right and I’m amazed at how Rowell was able to pick up the story as if seven others books has already been published and read by fans picking up this one.  The worldbuilding is phenomenal and I never felt confused about the prior events.  There is a healthy amount of exposition within the first 50 pages or so and it’s engaging enough to keep the reader hooked until her original story begins to shine through.  When people told me that The Magicians by Lev Grossman was Harry Potter for adults, I was severely disappointed (read my review here) LINK.  Carry Onis actually Harry Potter for adults.  The characters are in their 8th year of schooling so the situations they face and their dialogue is more mature in their nature.  I really really really wish that there would be more books in this series because I loved it so very much.

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For each character in Carry On, there is a definitive parallel counterpart in Harry Potter.  In addition to Simon and Baz who I previously compared, we also have The Mage (Dumbledore), Ebb (Hagrid), Penelope (a Ron Weasley / Hermione Granger mash up) and the Humdrum (Voldemort).  One of the best aspects of Rainbow Rowell’s writing is her ability to capture the feelings of romance between characters and Carry On is no exception.  My heart was melting when I devoured certain scenes and it broke my heart each time I had to put the book down to go to work.  The characters are compelling and well developed and all of the outside knowledge the reader goes into with just enhances the experience.  The characters spend their time in the story unraveling a small mystery in addition to something much bigger involving several Mage wars.  I don’t want to give anything at all away about the plot because it’s so perfect that it deserves to be experienced for the first time while reading it through.

Final Thoughts: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is a literary dream come  true for anyone who spent their youth reading and writing fanfiction (especially Harry Potter fanfiction).  The characters will capture your heart and the romance will have you swooning beyond belief.  Rainbow Rowell gets it.  It’s not necessary to have read Fangirl first in order to enjoy Carry On but I did very much appreciate having fallen in love with Simon and Baz through Cath’s eyes before Carry On was ever announced.  Carry On is a really fun, snarky, fantasy read and I would recommend it to anyone looking for adult Harry Potter.

Rating 6

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. (via Goodreads)

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Kristin

Tea & Book Chat: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

If anyone ever understood how deep my love of Harry Potter runs it’s the main character Cath in Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.  Cath and her twin sister Wren are both huge fans of the Simon Snow series (side note: Rainbow is actually coming out with a book based on those characters in October of this year!)  and Cath has actually garnered quite an online following with her Simon and Baz (Harry and Malfoy type characters) fan fiction.  Wren has always been supportive in the past but now that the girls are getting older and leaving for college, they’re in a more transitory period and Wren, especially, wants to separate herself from her twin.  She doesn’t even want to live with Cath which ends up effecting each sister differently.

Cath is a character I completely related to.  She’s an introvert who loves literature and she takes on the burden of familial responsibilities when Wren becomes more concerned with going out and partying than the well-being of her father.  She’s also pretty insecure and awkward.  I love that Rowell even uses Cath’s fanfic as a story element by interweaving it through chapters.  Cath’s writing also gives us a sense of how she’s coping with her own real life.  Even if you didn’t grow up addicted to Harry Potter, if you’ve ever loved anything fictional, you’ll be able to relate to Cath’s intense passion for the characters.  It still amazes me how much Rainbow Rowell understands and expresses the feelings superfans experience.

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Part of what made this book so enjoyable is that it explored so many of the relationships in Cath’s life from her twin sister to her father to her absent mother to her new roommate / potential friend  to a potential love interest.  Levi, the potential love interest, is probably my second favorite character of the book (after Cath of course) because he really gets Cath to break out her shell, even if it’s only a little.  He’s patient and understanding and it’s evident that he cares for her.

Overall Fangirl is an enjoyable journey through the transition from childhood to adulthood.  It captures the essence of what it means to be a fangirl and celebrates the love of fanficiton, which is typically viewed with negative connotations.  It’s no wonder Fangirl was the first book read by the official Tumblr book club.  I loved how Cath’s character grew throughout the novel and how despite her reluctance, she begins to step outside her comfort zone and experience life differently.  I cannot wait to read Rainbow Rowell’s book set in the world of Simon Snow, titled Carry On, which is scheduled for release this October.

1Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? (via Goodreads)

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