I have never read a Rainbow Rowell novel before, and I decided to pick up a book of hers which I know is different than all her others. Carry On is a fantasy novel, as opposed to her contemporary fiction novels, which follows the story of Simon Snow. Simon was born in the regular world but was told at age eleven that he has magic and he will be attending Watford school of magic. Sound familiar? Well, it should. It’s Harry Potter, except Simon Snow as the chosen one is the best thing I’ve ever read because unlike Harry, Simon is not naturally gifted at using magic.
The book drops the reader right at the beginning of Simon’s eighth and final year at Watford, only for him to discover that his roommate, and long time rival, Baz, did not return to school. With wars brewing on several fronts, Simon is concerned that Baz is plotting something devious. However, a visit from a spirit ensures that Simon will have to work with Baz once he returns to Watford if they are ever to discover the truth behind the backstories of Simon, Baz, and even the origins of the war.
Simon Snow was such an important character to me because he feels so real. There are so many “chosen one” characters that feel untouchable because their purpose is not relatable, but Simon’s inadequacy with his magic felt like something everyone can relate to. He isn’t naturally gifted, but he also never gives up. He will fight for his friends until the very end which is another thing that I found so great about Simon. When it comes to saving the magical world (spoiler alert), he does it for his friends rather than for the fate of the world. “The entire world” can feel like a strange concept and the idea of trying to save everyone feels like something that isn’t possible. But saving those you love the most is something everyone can relate to and most people would do willingly.
This wonderful book was originally a standalone but Rowell has recently announced a sequel called Wayward Son. It comes out September 24.