Book Review: Carry On – Rainbow Rowell

23734628 I was a little conflicted.

But this is a good review. I liked this book. A lot.

When I was in art school we had a rule. If you’re going to do something, make it look like you’ve done it on purpose.

I felt like Carry On wasn’t sure what it wanted to be, and I found myself wondering if any of this was done on purpose.

Is it painfully like Harry Potter in the most silly way? Sure. But I really need to put away all my annoyances at words like “The Humdrum” and how Ebb was clearly Hagrid, and how the Mage was like a pirate/robin hood Dumbledore, and the little reference to McGonagall.  I cannot talk about these things because frankly, I wish they weren’t a thing. I wish they hadn’t been put into the book. But I’ll get to that later.

Carry On addresses the power of words and how we must be the answer to our own problems. No matter how alone we feel, we can always get ourselves back on track. That was a resounding message to me and I think the way Rainbow Rowell approached magic really illustrated this beautifully. She just didn’t do us any justice by making it a little too similar to Harry Potter.

I wish she would have pushed her original ideas (original meaning her own personal ideas rather than the Harry Potter bits) because they were really great. I think she relied on us knowing about the Harry Potter world to heftily support her world building and it really just took away from the story.

For instance, Simon and Baz have a really complicated relationship, but it gets backstoried in a lot of passive voice about just how HarryxDraco they are, and in what ways they aren’t. I would have liked to feel Simon’s disdain for Baz, and see how everything they did was a push and pull. Their relationship was very complex and it would have been nice to see them slowly fall in love. We really just get Simon at the very end of it, when he makes his realization that Baz is the boy he will be gay for, and it left me curious as to how he got to that point. I actually skipped through the last pages because some of the other stories didn’t interest me as much as their love did. I think Simon and Baz went on some intense personal journeys and I just wish we had more of them.

The second thing is that the Humdrum reveal at the end was marvellous, but I was so wrapped up in the quick passive world building of how this is not like Harry Potter in these specific ways , That I just really didn’t ever appreciate the plot there is because I compared it the whole time. The comparison to Harry Potter both in description and of the marketing strategy, made me lose interest in an otherwise brilliant stance on magic, and how that magic can translate into our everyday lives.

The power of words and the power of you is such a great theme and I just wish we had an unadulterated Rainbow Rowell take on magic. The parts of this that were good WERE SO GOOD IT HURT, and I wish I could have had more.


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