Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Review: 'Carry On' by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell has become one of my favorite authors.

Her books are written in such a compelling dialogue with unforgettable characters that I just want to curl up and never leave the worlds she has created. Eleanor & Park was the first novel of hers that I read and I loved it so much that even the thought of rereading it stresses me out, because I don't think I could handle it emotionally. Attachments and Landline are insanely cute, character-driven romantic comedies (that I would definitely consider rereading, just because I love them so much), and Fangirl is probably my favorite novel of hers. I originally didn't want to read it because I didn't really understand the point of fanfiction, but since I began to learn more about it and my love for Rainbow Rowell grew, I decided I should read it and I'm oh so glad I did. The main protagonist, Cath, is such a relatable character for me; introverted and anxious, likes books and the Internet better than most people. Fangirl also helped me through a bit of a tough time last fall, when I was having a lot of anxiety for several different reasons.

ANYWAY. This review is supposed to be about Rowell's latest novel, Carry On, which is somewhat of a standalone spin-off of Fangirl; it follows the fictitious fictional characters that Cath enjoys writing fanfiction about, Simon Snow and Baz. Given from the author's note at the end, Carry On is neither the established Simon Snow story in Fangirl nor the version Cath writes about; it's Rowell's version that she felt she owed them. Honestly, after finishing Fangirl I knew I had to read Carry On, even though I'm not a huge fan of fantasy novels. But, I mean, c'mon, it's Rainbow Rowell, so we all know I was going to read it. It took me awhile to get into it, because it was just so not what I was used to seeing from Rowell, but I'm glad I stuck it out and got into it (it's not like I was considering dropping it and starting something else, but, y'know). For those who aren't familiar with the premise, Simon and Baz are magicians attending the Watford School of Magicks (Harry Potter fans who choose to roll your eyes, please just leave). Baz is a vampire, but not openly, everyone just suspects he's a vampire, and he is. Simon and Baz have been roommates and seem to have an equal hatred for each other -- except that Baz has always been in love with Simon.

I won't fill in the blanks, because I think you should read it, but Simon and Baz do end up having a romance which isn't in any way influenced by heteronormativity, unlike all those other gooey YA books about teens struggling with their sexualities. I'm not slamming those books, but I just think that it was nice to see two guys having a romance with no labels; it was what it was and no one gave a crap, and I applaud Rowell for that. If only the real world could be a little bit more like that. It's a really nice read, if you're a sucker for cheesy romance and cuteness overloads (if you've read and enjoyed any of Rowell's other books, it's safe to say you do.) I'd also like to point out that I can't see the words "carry on" together without thinking of Simon and Baz, my iPad background is currently Carry On themed and my iPhone background is currently Fangirl themed. 4/5 stars.

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