Book Review: Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell

rowell-carry-onCarry On, by Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (October 6, 2015)
Page Count: 528 pages
Genre: YA Fantasy; Gay Romance

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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I think I’m way in the minority when it comes to this book. For the last few weeks it’s been everywhere, promo and reviews and people basically praising it as the best thing ever. But apart from a few small things, I thought the entire book was just boring.

1. If you’re going to write Harry Potter fanfiction and publish it, maybe make it a bit less obvious?

I literally couldn’t stop comparing this to Harry Potter  the entire time I was reading. I’m sure that’s the point, but it drove me crazy. It’s like every Harry/Draco fanfic trope crammed into one novel. Harry Simon arrives at school to find his much-despised roommate Draco Baz missing, and spends the next third of the novel obsessing over this. There are good wizards vs evil wizards. There’s a prophecy. There’s Simon the hero and his braniac side-kick Hermione Penny. It wasn’t original, and I was bored.

Maybe I’ve just read too many interesting Harry/Draco slash fanfics (and my god, I’ve read a lot of H/D fic!), so Rowell’s version just doesn’t stand out.

2. Nothing happens

Seriously, nothing. Simon angsts a lot, and Baz angsts a lot, and the two of them angst a lot together. I was bored. This novel was crazy long (more than 500 pages!), and most of it involved the characters sitting around and getting nowhere. How many times can they write on a chalkboard before they realize that they know nothing?

3. The writing itself

At times I thought the dialogue was charming, but those times were pretty rare. Mostly I thought the dialogue was stilted, repetitive, and unoriginal. Her characters sound more like teenage girls than teenage boys in my opinion.

BUT! I will give two HUGE thumbs up for one particular plot device: the way the wizards of her world do spells. Instead of using the faux-Latin of JK Rowling, the wizards of Carry On use popular phrases. Words have power, so the more often words are said, the more powerful they are. Come out, come out, wherever you are! is a spell it find hidden things, and The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is a spell for forcing honesty.

4. Agatha

Really, really not sure what the point of her character was, except to help Simon think he was “straight”? Except that never factored in. It was like some remnant of Ginny Weasley that Rowell had to get rid of, so she just faded the character to the background and made her pointless.

“I’m not leaving you for Baz, Simon. He’s gone. I just don’t want to be with you anymore. I don’t want to ride off into the sunset with you… That’s not my happy anything.”

I wish Agatha had stood her ground. I wish she’d been a strong character. What little of her we saw was awesome and intriguing, and I think the character got cheated out of a great role in the story. I would really have liked for there to be more tension with her and Baz, or for her to buck up and do something at the end!

Final Verdict?

I’m sorry, but I was just not into this novel. If I want to read Harry Potter fanfiction, I’ll just go to AO3 or ff.net and do so. This is really no different, in my mind, than Fifty Shades of Grey… except 50SOG actually made the characters and plot unrecognizable unless you knew it was originally Twilight, whereas Carry On was very obviously based on Harry Potter.

Not for me. Not saying it’s bad, just not for me.

Buy Link: Amazon

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell

  1. I’m wary of this book. I mean, why write a book made out of only fanfiction? What prevents otehr people from doing the same? Rhetorical question, btw. -_- And Harry Potter is so damn overdone! I like the books, but it gets old after some time, you know? Great review, btw.

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  2. So, that’s not a book I’m going to read. You are right, there are a lot of Harry Potter fanfictions out there (for free *ahem*), so why buy a bad one?
    That being said, I want books to be original and not fanfiction or some sort of surfing the current trend-wave.

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