Carry On

Carry On is the story of Simon Snow, the chosen one. He’s the mages heir, born to save the wizarding world from destruction by the Insidious Humdrum, a creature that steals magic. He also has to deal with his evil probable-vampire roommate, Baz, who is always working on some scheme that may-or-may-not result in Simon’s death. So far in their final year at the Watford School of Magicks, Baz hasn’t shown up at all, and it’s driving Simon crazy. Add to that the fact that his girlfriend, Agatha just broke up with him for the aforementioned vampire roommate and you’ve got a pretty distraught Simon Snow. He doesn’t feel like the chosen one at all…

Advertisements

Carry On is the story of Simon Snow, the chosen one. He’s the Mage’s heir, born to save the wizarding world from destruction by the Insidious Humdrum, a creature that steals magic. He also has to deal with his evil probable-vampire roommate, Baz, who is always working on some scheme that may-or-may-not result in Simon’s death. So far in their final year at the Watford School of Magicks, Baz hasn’t shown up at all, and it’s driving Simon crazy. Add to that the fact that his girlfriend, Agatha just broke up with him for the aforementioned vampire roommate and you’ve got a pretty distraught Simon Snow. He doesn’t feel like the chosen one at all…

Carry on, by Rainbow Rowell is a sort of companion novel to Fangirl. Fangirl is about a girl called Cather who writes fanfiction about the Simon Snow book series written by the (also fictional) Gemma T. Leslie. Throughout Fangirl, Cather was working on her greatest piece of fanfiction yet. Carry On is that fanfiction.

IMG_0270.JPGDo you need to have read Fangirl to read Carry On?

Not necessarily.

But, we spend a lot of time with Simon and Baz during Fangirl. We get a lot of background about their characters and a sense of their relationship – or perhaps I should say their relationship as Cath perceives it. Wading into Carry On without that grounding could make it difficult to connect, I think. Carry On is, after all the finale to a story we haven’t experienced. There are ways in which it is incomplete a reader could find alienating not coming at it with their Fangirl eyes.

I really liked Carry On. I loved Baz coming out of Fangirl, and he was absolutely the most compelling character in the book. I wasn’t aware that so much of it would be from his perspective, which was a pleasant surprise. He’s a funny and cynical narrator. If the book had come entirely from Simon’s point of view, Baz would have been the typical brooding boyfriend (read: boring), but hearing his brutally honest internal monologue made him a much more complex and interesting guy (read: I’m in love). Obviously I enjoyed the romance, but I would have liked more from Simon about his developing feelings. Considering that much of the book was from his perspective, some of his actions toward Baz felt a bit abrupt. That said, I appreciate that he had a lot else going on. When you have the entire world of the mages to save, I can see how you wouldn’t have time to sit around and dissect your feelings for your hot roommate.

(I’m lying. I think I could do both).

IMG_0272.JPGDespite being over 500 pages long, this is actually a pretty quick read. The plot is fast paced! It’s was one of those where I was creating imaginary scenarios about what could possibly happen next while attempting to go about my day. My main criticism was that certain aspects of it where somewhat underdeveloped. The Mage, for example, is the head teacher of Watford and the boss of all magicians and the closest thing Simon has to family, but he’s not a likeable or interesting person. I probably wouldn’t have cried when Snape murdered him, is what I’m saying. A lot of the other mages don’t like him as a leader and I totally understood why. Nobody knew where the guy even was for most of the book. It was disappointing, because we were told that Simon’s relationship with him was important, but we never really got to see that.

My other problem – and one I tried hard to talk myself out of – is that a lot of major events in this book happen out of nowhere. Certain realisations (and make outs) happen too easily, and major plot points are resolved in a way that didn’t really take 500 pages (or 7 completely fictitious previous books).

That all said, Rowell’s characterisation is strong as ever, and the novel is packed with people you can’t help but react to. Penelope, Simon’s best friend, is so wonderful I kind of resented Simon for turning her into a sidekick. Agatha, Simon’s soon-to-be-ex girlfriend is so annoying I wish she didn’t exist, and Baz’s Aunt Fiona is the type you just know will be rebelling way after the cause is well and truly over.

It’s a fun read with a hot romance. What more could a person need on a wintery evening?

(More money for heating. I know. I feel your pain).

Also: Rainbow Rowell loves a man with a receding hairline. It’s not a judgement, just an observation.

My Top Three Female Characters

I think the need to read about women I related to (and women I didn’t) was part of what drove me toward reading. The girls I read there were real. They made mistakes and they had complicated friendships. They weren’t simply the subplot to somebody else’s epiphany. They were my friends and the people I aspired to be like.

I love female characters. I love to read women with depth, women who are complicated and not a mess of gender characteristics stuck awkwardly together by a clueless author.

Often when I watch television, I find the female characters fall flat. They are so frequently pushed into the same boring gender roles and their friendships reduced to shallow one way streets where the only topic of discussion is dating. Or, worse, the female character is only there to facilitate some guy’s character development and has no storyline of her own.

Unfortunately on TV this can start to feel like the norm.

I think the need to read about women I related to (and women I didn’t) was part of what drove me toward reading. The girls I read there were real. They made mistakes and they had complicated friendships. They weren’t simply the subplot to somebody else’s epiphany. They were my friends and the people I aspired to be like.

So with that in mind, today I want to write about three of the women in young adult fiction who have stayed in my mind long after the end of the story.

Frankie Landau-Banks

From The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

frankie

This book should be required reading for all teenaged girls, I think. Frankie is a sixteen year old girl in the midst of a feminist awakening. She is keenly aware of what the people around her expect and want from her – a sweet, quiet girl who doesn’t want to cause any trouble – and she realizes more and more than she cannot be it for them. She’s smart and adventurous and she wants to be at the heart of the action even when it is in the end at the sacrifice of those things she always thought would make her happy. She is a girl in the process of figuring out who she is.

The ocean stirsthe heart, inspiresthe imgination&

Cather

From Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

fangirl

I so wish that Fangirl had been published in time for my first year of university, because me and Cath had pretty similar feelings going in and reading about hers would have gone a long way toward convincing me that I was not in fact going crazy.

Cath is the suspicious type. She doesn’t let people in much, apart from her twin sister Wren, but since they went to university together and Wren decided to get a roommate who wasn’t Cath they haven’t talked much. Cath is fearful. It takes her weeks to go down to the refectory in her dorm because she doesn’t know how the place operates. She doesn’t get out much. She isn’t a party person.

The reason Cath felt so real to me was that she never lost the deep reservations she had about life. Just because a lovely boy came along didn’t mean she instantly stopped being suspicious about relationships. Just because she made a couple friends didn’t mean she suddenly started going out to the kind of parties that she hated. Just because she left home she didn’t stop worrying about her dad, who has bi-polar and isn’t particularly stable at the best of times. Cath and her stresses came as a pair, and her journey to live her life in spite of them is what makes Fangirl such great reading.

Evie O’Neill

From The Diviners by Libba Bray

the diviners

In case it wasn’t obvious, I’ve recently got totally re-obsessed with The Diviners in anticipation of the sequel being finally almost here.

Evie is everything I wish I was. She’s extroverted, witty, brave and always up for a party. She is desperate to be famous, whatever the cost. She’s also… pretty haunted. She lost her brother in the Second World War and since her already frail relationship with her parents has completely broken.

Evie needs more than anything else to be noticed. She has been lonely ever since her brother died and tries to plug the gaping hole he left behind with the shallow attentions of… whoever she can get to listen. It goes without saying that the need for attention never ends.

But she’s also pretty selfless. She puts herself in positions of grave danger throughout the novel in pursuit of the murderer haunting the streets of New York. She almost dies chasing him, but she keeps going anyway because ridding the world of him is the only way to make people safe.

Did I mention I’m excited for the sequel?

Who are your favourite female characters and why? Let me know in the comments!