Fantasy, Young Adult

Keep Calm and Carry On

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

book carry on

The Skinny: Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen. That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right. Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.. -From Goodreads

BFF?: Alright Sparky, here’s the deal: I hated Simon Snow. There. I said it. I don’t want him for my BFF and I’m not quite sure why he was so flipping special. He was rude and cocky and smarmy and messy and ick. Okay, maybe I’m being a little harsh. There were supposedly many other books in this “series” and maybe he was perfectly endearing in them. Not all 17 year old boys can be Jonah effing Griggs. But I just didn’t find one redeeming quality about Simon Snow. In fact… I didn’t find many characters in the book that I really took a shine to. Maybe Agatha… but mostly because yeah, I totally felt for the girl. And I felt like we could have been friends.

Readability: Despite my feelings towards this book, it’s no secret that Rainbow can write. This book is really no exception. The only readability issue I found was the language of the book. Maybe I wanted it to be Harry Potter a little too much, but I feel like if you’re going to write about a magical world, there is no room for Muggle speak in it. I didn’t like how abruptly I was yanked out of the magical world by one of the characters talking about a computer or making pop culture references or cussing. I love the f-word as much as the next sailor, but at least make it necessary!

Crush Level: Err….? 4?
So as I stated before, I had no real love for Simon. The next obvious choice is Baz, but I feel a little weird crushing on a moody gay wizard vampire. It’s like crushing on a married man… he’s not available to me, so why waste a good crush? That being said, Baz was slightly dreamy… you know, as dreamy as a wizard vampire (vampire wizard? wizpire? vampard?) can be. He was most definitely tormented, which made him most interesting. And the romance… whew! Once Baz got over some of his torment, boy knew how to get things heated up!

Bonus Points
The Romance

Okay… so while my love for this book is very little, my love for the romance in this book is very high. It was probably the book’s only redeeming quality for me. Rainbow surely knows how to create some romantic tension and you could cut this one with a knife.

Anti-Bonus Points
Magicnph magic
Okay, I love some magic in books, but this was just uber lame. Like magic spells are silly phrases and song lyrics? I wanted to like it and tried to accept that it was just silly and fun, but towards the end I found it got ridiculous

Being dropped at the end of a series

I know this isn’t an ACTUAL series, and if you read Fangirl you’d have a vague idea of what all went on in previous books, but I just felt a bit lost for a while and then frustrated. I felt like I was just supposed to accept that things were the way they were, which made a lot of the things in the book EXTREMELY hard to deal with. I won’t go into details, because it might be a bit spoilery, but I just found it hard to connect with so many things in the book.

The Romance
no love

But Candice, you listed the romance as a bonus point! What is it doing in the anti-bonus point section? I know, I know… I’m a conundrum. Also, this will be spoilery, so highlight to see why it’s an anti-bonus point: I knew that Simon Snow and Baz were eventually going to be a couple, so obviously no surprise there. But what bugged me the most was we saw just how tormented Baz was about his feelings towards Simon. Simon, on the other hand, had no feelings but repulsion for Baz. There wasn’t even an inkling of feelings until he had this one moment of “Hey, wouldn’t this be neato if I kissed him?” And then suddenly he likes him? Suddenly he’s IN LOVE with this person he hated only one chapter ago? And I’m just supposed to accept it? End spoiler-rant.

Commencement Speech: I know this review so far seems pretty awful… however, I don’t want to discourage you from reading it if it’s a book you’ve been considering. I had emailed someone my thoughts on it, so I figured rather than rewrite my review, I’d just copy and paste it here (with a few deletions because people are mean sometimes):

Okay… so I’ve loved all of Rainbow’s books that I’ve read, but was not expecting much from Carry On. Honestly wasn’t even planning on reading it because I thought it was kind of a dumb idea anyway… but then it was available at the library and I said why not.

First of all, I felt lost most of the time because it was like starting HP on book 7. You missed allllllll of this build up. So I had to just accept this magical world with no backstory.

Secondly, the magical world wasn’t that magical to begin with. There were times when I found myself getting a little lost in it, but then either the language (it was filled with foul language that felt really forced and unnecessary) (I promise I’m not a prude bc I love the f-word like there’s no tomorrow) or references would throw me out of the world. It felt like really REALLY bad fanfiction of a really lame HP self-published series.

The romance was pretty good, I will say that. However, again since it felt like being dropped into the 7th book of the series, I felt like I had missed all this tremendous build up, so at times it was like “Okay, so I’m just supposed to ACCEPT this happened?”

I did like some of the characters. Baz was really well written and I loved his narrated chapters. Simon was awful and I hated him. I mean, not really, but you know how there’s a couple of the HP books where Harry is just kind of a tool and you want to punch him but you still love him? Simon was like that only I didn’t love him.

The beginning was really pretty slow, so much so that it was BOOOOOORRRRRRING. It did pick up towards the end, but more in a WTF is going on with this shizz kind of way.

Anyway… that is probably just a snippet of my thoughts on the book. I also feel like I just need to copy and paste this email for my review. (which I totally just did!)

I’m totally not discouraging you from reading, as I never want to do that to anyone. But this, for me, was not up to par with Rainbow’s books and felt like a cheap publicity stunt. And I’m saying this as someone who actually really liked the Simon Snow snippets from Fangirl!

See? It wasn’t ALLLL bad for me. There were some really nice points to the book and I didn’t consider quitting it more than once or twice. Also, there are a lot of nice reviews on Goodreads (and I’m sure around the blogosphere) that praise this book, so definitely check out those before you read if you’re on the fence. I never want to tell a reader to not read a book because I didn’t like it!

Yearbook Quote: None! (mostly because I didn’t highlight one/didn’t find one I really liked)

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7 thoughts on “Keep Calm and Carry On”

  1. I’m so on the fence with this one. I don’t think I will actually enjoy it, so I think I will skip, but I feel so weird skipping out on a Rainbow Rowell book. It’s kind of nice to hear some honest feedback on it… still probably leaning towards skipping it. Hopefully Rainbow will put out another contemp soon and all will be right with the world.


    1. I was really on the fence about it and didn’t want to read it to begin with, but decided to give it a try. Definitely don’t regret it, but I really didn’t enjoy it much. Just hate when I don’t like a book by a favorite author!


  2. I’m waiting to read this one, now that I’ve read all of the mixed reviews. Hopefully, I’ll enjoy it but it’s nice to read so many honest thoughts about each aspect. Very well written!


    1. I absolutely HATE writing negative reviews and I never want to discourage someone from reading a book regardless of my feelings. I debated even reviewing this one! But I think reading different types of reviews is key and then making your own decision about a book.


  3. I love this review!!! LOVE! I haven’t read this yet, but I was starting to feel like I was the only one who didn’t understand why this book happened. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m always excited for more Rainbow, but I didn’t GET it when I first heard about this book. My friends are all like “she wrote a book, read it”, I’m like “but why?? Is this the Simon Snow books that were excerpted in Fangirl?? The ones that Cath and Wren loved?? But then, Cath’s fanfic was called Carry On… so is this Cath’s fanfic?? Or is this Rainbow writing fanfic similar to Cath’s??” I’m SO confused”. And I feel like I’m the only one who is confused, which also confuses me 🙂 I’m sorry this didn’t work for you… hopefully when I do get around to reading it, all my issues will go away and I’ll just enjoy the story.


    1. Aw, thanks friend! I’m like you and didn’t understand why this book was happening. While yes, it’s a RAINBOW book, I think that was pretty much all it had going for it. Most people I’ve talked to have been on the fence about reading it or if they have read it haven’t been overly pleased with it. I really think it’s one of those books you have to read for yourself and you can’t take anyone’s word for it. I hope you’ll get a chance sometime to give it a try; let me know what you think of you do read! 🙂


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