Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

carryoncoverGenre: Young Adult / Fantasy

My copy came from: the library! Thank goodness for libraries!

 Synopsis: Simon Snow is a magician, and he’s known throughout the magical community as The Chosen One. He attends Watford School of Magicks, and with his friend, Penny, and his vampire roommate Baz, Simon tries to battle the Insidious Humdrum and save magic.

Review: Well, I didn’t hate it, but I also didn’t really like it.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell was the book of the month for Hype or Like Friday, and was the first Rainbow Rowell book I have read. I did enjoy Rowell’s writing, and will most likely go on to read her other books, but I just didn’t particularly care for this story line.

I didn’t care because, here goes…. I’m totally over Harry Potter-like plotlines. If I wanted to read something like Harry Potter, I’ll just read Harry Potter, which is one of my favorite series. Reading Carry On felt like a waste of time for me (wow, that’s really harsh, but it’s how I felt!), and I didn’t connect with any of the characters, as sweet and cute as they are.

The plotline of a “chosen one” wizard (known as magicians in this book) was just done so much better in Harry Potter, and while Carry On feels respectful and mindful of the similarities, it just kind of irritated me. There is a bit of difference in the worlds here, as Carry On is very much set in a modern time, whereas Harry Potter felt to me that it transcended time and could exist in any time period. At Watford, students are taught regular classes, like Greek, History, and Political Science, besides magic, and the modern world is very much a part of the setting. They drive cars, listen to pop music, have cell phones, and there are even Star Wars references!

My magic comes back to me all at once and sends me to the ground, shaking.  If only I had my wand.  Or a mobile…

The spells here are phrases taken from “normal” (non-magical) speech. Like, if you want to fly, you would use “Up, up and away!” or use “Open Sesame!” to open something, and even “Get well soon” for healing. Sometimes this was clever, other times it was just too silly to believe. There is even magical use of the phrase “Simon says”. I still don’t understand how you can turn the magic on and off in case you accidentally say one of these phrases, but don’t intend to do any magic with it. The book helps let us know that magic is being used because the spells are bolded. However, since you don’t bold speech in real life, how does this work? And how on earth could you possibly keep track of all the different spells and the changing of spells from generation to generation as speech changes? This is never explained, and I find I just don’t really care.

The book is told with each chapter coming from a different character’s perspective, mainly Simon, Penny, or Baz, but other characters do come into play as well. I didn’t really connect with any of the three main characters, but they are all very cute and I can see why some people really love them.

This section could be considered spoilery, so you may want to skip to the end! There is a romance between Simon and Baz, and this was so obvious from the very beginning, that keeping them apart for so long just became very irritating. Baz and Simon are obsessed with each other, and since you are able to read both boys’ thoughts, it gets very old with the “I wonder what he’s up to” or “what is he doing now” type thoughts.

I wish I’d never figured it out.  That I love him.
It’s only ever been a torment.

Between Baz and Simon, Baz was the more interesting character. He had a bit more personality to him, he’s sarcastic and mean, but what exactly is he hiding? So there was more interest there for me with Baz. Simon was just kinda blah. He was nice and kind and good, but he just wasn’t all that interesting! Simon’s best friend is Penny, and she was smart and nice, but was also boring. I didn’t connect with any of the characters, and so didn’t really care what was happening to them in the plot.

The ending of the book felt rushed and confused me. I’m still not exactly sure what happened at the end, or how everyone connected, and I find that I just don’t care enough to figure it out.

And don’t even get me started on the “bad guy” whose name is the Insidious Humdrum. Well that sure is menacing! Also, the leader of the magicians, The Mage, wears something described by one character as a “Robin Hood costume”. There was no way I could take that character seriously after reading that! So with the villain having a ridiculous name, and the leader of the opposition dressed like someone at a Halloween party, I just kept rolling my eyes and thinking that this book was silly.

With all my thoughts laid out, it may seem like I really disliked the book, and that’s not true. I enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s writing, and will go on to read other books by her. I think Eleanor and Park might be more for me, as I don’t typically go for cutesy, and this book was oh-so-very cutesy.

Since the writing was good, and because my issues with it were more for personal reasons (not being into the HP-like plot, and not connecting with the characters), I am going to rate this a “LIKE” for Hype or Like Friday, because I can really see why people love the book. It was just too cutesy and contrived for me, but I do wish that I liked it.   I really wanted to like it, but it just isn’t the book for me!

Bottom Line: I enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s writing, but this just wasn’t a book for me.

Hype or Like Friday is a Goodreads group hosted by Jill at Rant and Rave About Books, Larkin at Wonderfilled Reads, and Britt at Geronimo Reads. If you don’t already follow these ladies, go follow them! And join our Hype or Like Friday group! Our book for next month is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, one that’s been on my shelf for months, so I’m looking forward to reading this one!


Links to Carry On  Amazon and   Goodreads

Links to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children    Amazon    and   Goodreads

What do you think of Carry On? Were you transported into the magical realm with Baz and Simon? Does the thought of the Mage wearing a “Robin Hood costume” make you laugh? After reading Carry On did you feel like baking sour cherry scones? Does this sound like a book that you would read?



21 thoughts on “Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

  1. I did not like the story, or the writing, or the characters! I think I’ll have to be forced/paid/depressed to grab another book from the author because I fell asleep while reading Carry On, and this never happens. I am the crazy girl who will watch a movie until the credits even though she hasn’t slept in two days because I hate dozing off in the middle of something. But I could not make it past the 20% mark. You are so right, if I want to read something like HP, I JUST GRAB THE CLOSEST HP BOOK. Hm, as you can see, I’m a bit mad at the book for wasting my time, haha.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 🙂 You most definitely are not missing anything by not finishing the book!! I will read more by Rowell, but I think I’ll wait a bit before reading any others. This book is so popular, I’m kinda surprised that I haven’t heard good things about it from our Hype or Like group. I wonder if anyone read it and liked it in our group? Hopefully next month’s selection will be better!


  2. Excellent dissection of the book. I can identify with why you didn’t like it, cutesy and all.

    Miss Peregrine’s is getting a movie adaptation with Eva Green. I guess you already knew that, don’t you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks 🙂
      Yeah, I heard about the movie adaptation! Sounds like it’s getting blasted in the reviews though. Not sure I’ll make it to the theaters to watch it, or if I’ll wait and watch it later.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, this was just not really worth the time. Harry Potter is so much better! But I did enjoy her writing, so I’ll try another Rainbow Rowell book at some point. This may have been a bad one to start out with, because it was so obviously a nod to Harry Potter.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to hear from you!!
      I’m hoping I like Miss Peregrine’s – I don’t know a lot about it.
      I hope to read more Rainbow Rowell at some point, I did enjoy her writing and think I just wasn’t into the plot (too much like HP for me!).
      Thanks for commenting and it’s great to hear from you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah, I’ve been indifferent to this one…I bought Fangirl and Eleanor & Park, and have always had good feelings toward those two books. But Carry On seemed like a HP fan fiction from the start (correct me of I’m wrong).
    Sorry it was a letdown.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m really looking forward to Eleanor & Park, that one sounds like I’ll enjoy it more. Fangirl also sounds interesting to me, I think I may like that one better than Carry On!
      Yeah, Carry On just felt like HP fan fiction – it was just too much. I can totally see why people would love it for that reason though. The story & characters were cute, but I just couldn’t connect.


  4. I did not like this book at all. It felt like a cheap knock-off of Harry Potter but without any of the things we loved from the story. Simon was blah and his friends were equally bland. I also felt like certain things were forced on you in an obnoxious manner. There were so many words only Brits used that I thought were crammed in there repeatedly just to make him sound British. I really thought that was annoying by the time I reached chapter 6. And feeling like I was in a reality show version of HP was super annoying. This book was not for me at all. I own all of Rowell’s books, and I’m planning to read Attachments in November, but I think this one is a DNF for me all the way. I have no desire to read anymore. A few Hype or Likers felt the same way. I had moved the weekend of our review for this book, but if I hadn’t moved, I would’ve written a very lovely DNF review. I probably will write one at some point, but I almost felt bad since I didn’t want to read anymore. I’m also not loving Miss Peregrine’s. It’s sort of blah so far. What is it with me and our monthly books? 😂 Wonderful review, Ami! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! 🙂 That is so funny that you mention about the British slang, as I think I remember the word “chavvy” being used in this book and I had only ever heard of it because of one of your slang posts!
      You really didn’t miss much by DNF’ing it – I think with this particular book people either loved the HP-like plot or were over it. I didn’t love the plot, so didn’t love the book.
      Uh-oh that Miss Peregrine’s isn’t going so well! I haven’t started mine yet – hope to soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, she used chavvy a lot. I thought it was a bit much to be honest. She also used dodgy an abnormal amount. A few people said they didn’t like Carry On and that Miss Peregrine’s is just okay. 😂 Next month is ADSOM. Everyone seems to like that book. Fingers crossed. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s