For those that don’t know what Carry On is, it is Rainbow’s own fan fiction of a fictional series that features in one of her books in which the main character writes fan fiction. Yup, it’s all a bit meta at this point. Carry On isn’t supposed to be the in-world canon of Simon and Baz, instead it follows down the path of all those fan fiction writers who shipped the two main characters.
I should probably start off with full disclosure that I didn’t really like the Simon and Baz bits in Fangirl but I was intrigued to see where they would go in a full length novel. In some ways, it’s all quite clever, bringing together plenty of Chosen One tropes and occasionally poking fun at them but not quite enough. If you hadn’t read Fangirl and picked this up blind, you would be forgiven for thinking this was a Harry Potter clone, but with a slightly older tone. I think that was part of my problem with Fangirl, the fact that it wasn’t just Harry Potter fan fiction to start with.
Carry On also feels like you’ve landed in a series part the way through. By the end, it’s clear this would be a final book if it were actually a real series. Whilst a regular feature of the real thing, the info-dumps of what-happened-previously grated a bit. Fortunately they tapered off and I had more of a chance to get into the story of the present.
Well, how am I supposed to know? There isn’t a book, is there? All the Magickal Things that Are Actually True and All the Ones that Are Bollocks, Just Like You Thought.
I did like the relationship between Simon and Baz. Baz is absent for the start of the book so maybe that is why I felt it took me a while to get into the swing of things. I also liked the alternate narratives, we get to see what some of the supporting cast thinks too. Agatha would actually prefer to be in the Normal world and there’s even a glimpse into The Mage’s psyche. Plus there’s plenty of cute or funny lines.
I know so many people loved all the homage. If that’s your thing you will love it. Yet at the heart there was a really good story trying to get out. This world isn’t quite so black and white as Harry Potter’s. No one’s clearly evil or plain good, just like the real world, and sometimes good people do bad things. I also thought the characters were more believable as real people and they’re a lot more in touch with the modern world.
You can’t just wave your wand and repeat what you’ve heard someone saying down on the street corner; that’s a good way to accidentally separate someone from their bollocks.
The magic system reminded me a little of The Invisible Library and the power of words. Spells are woven out of common phrases, things that are spoken more have more power and some of the spells come from song lyrics in the modern day. This magic evolves just as language evolves.
It’s a fun read but it didn’t rock my world. I’m not sure I would recommend it as a standalone fantasy but it’s definitely worth reading if you liked Simon and Baz in Fangirl.
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Also reviewed @ Jess Hearts Books | Bookevin
Book Source: Purchased