Saturday, March 19, 2016

[Review] Carry On - Rainbow Rowell: Is This Queer Harry Potter?

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In CARRY ON, Simon Snow, chosen one, wizard, and roommate to his moody vampire nemesis, is facing his arch enemy the Humdrum for the last time in his final year at a magical school.

What intrigued me: I wasn't a fan of FANGIRL and didn't really enjoy the snippets from CARRY ON in there, but I decided to give Rowell one last chance. And what can I say - sometimes books or certain authors just don't match your taste. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're bad.

If you're going to rip-off/write an homage, at least TRY to be original...

When I first heard that Rowell is writing this, I was actually pretty offended. It's cash grabbing, obviously. Simon Snow and Baz are the subject of the fan fiction of Rowell's character Cath from FANGIRL. They're an homage to Draco and Harry from the Harry Potter Series. And then Rowell goes ahead and writes a book about them. This would be fine and all if she actually put any effort in making "Carry On" an actual stand-alone. 

This book can't survive without Harry Potter. It's full of references that you only get if you're familiar with the HP books and every single chapter is blatantly ripped off from Rowling. From a genderbent!Hagrid to Hermione/Penelope to Dumbledore/The Mage  to Voldemort/The Humdrum.

And it's just not fun to guess who's who for 500 pages, it's just insanely frustrating to read a super predictable retelling of a better book whose only difference to the original is that it has more diverse characters. This is all there is to CARRY ON for me, the only thing that it does better than the HP books is the diversity. It's not suggested, it's not implied, it's referenced repeatedly. Kudos to Rowell, my rating goes up a whole star just for this.

The base frame may be copied, but the plot is her original... and it's not good.

Rowell completely loses herself in world building and neglects everything else. There is no reason for the reader to root for Simon, who's constantly complaining and cursing and giving off bad vibes. He's not sympathetic and he really is "the worst chosen one who's ever been chosen" like love interest Baz put it so nicely. He's a horrible character. I've had issues with Rowell's voice before, and yet again she can't write authentic teenage voices at all. Every word that comes out of Simon's mouth makes me cringe, even worse when combined with the excessive unnecessary cursing.

Well, not everything is bad about CARRY ON. I like the way she did copy stuff from the HP books but just altered it enough for this book to not be considered fan fiction. There are numerous magical beings and there's a nice ghost sub plot, but it's just not enough to keep my attention for whopping 522 pages. This book seriously needs some tightening. It's definitely interesting, but it gets old very easily. 
After about 150 pages I was just bored and had to force myself to continue. It just wasn't fun for me. I wish I would have liked this more, but the bitter aftertaste of CARRY ON being the least original thing to hit the YA market last year just makes me cringe infinitely.

Rating:

☆☆


Overall: Do I Recommend?

I'm simply not a fan of Rowell's novels personally. Her style is hard to read for me and insanely boring and every time I actually finish a book by her I feel like I've wasted my time. This doesn't mean that the books are bad. You'll have to find out for yourself, but I can just say that I didn't enjoy it and wouldn't recommend it to anyone with similar taste like me.



Additional Info

Published: October 6th 2015
Pages: 522
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: YA / Paranormal / Witches and Wizards
ISBN: 1250049555

Synopsis:
"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.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.
 "(Source: Goodreads)


Do you think it's a Harry Potter rip-off? Are you as upset about it as I am?

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