‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell

For my first Blog post EVER, I really had no idea what to write about! I mean, like, one wants to come out with a bang, right?! Or at least not sound overly boring. Why blog if no one cares to look at it? Of course, I’m not really expecting anyone TO look at this, so there you go. But if you do… YAY! Anyway, I thought… What do I like to do? What am I passionate about? That’s what the infamous “they” are always saying. Write about what you love. So I could’ve gone with a short story about my dogs and their escapades. I could’ve gone with my love affair with tea. Lapsang souchong, anyone? I could’ve even written about my sudden interest in yoga. (Yeah, my muscles still haven’t forgiven me for that new activity!) But ultimately, I decided to write about a book that’s been stuck in my mind. Yep, I’m a total bookworm. Typically it’s Young Adult and Paranormal genres that have me hooked. Add in a little love (yes, I’m a total girl!) and I’m pretty much ambivalent to the outside world until I turn the last page. It’s a problem, I know, and this one had me completely enthralled! So here we go…..

Let me preface this by saying that ‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell is the first of her books that I’ve read. I had no idea that these characters were based on her other book, ‘Fangirl’. I had just heard a lot of buzz about this author and the local library happened to have it. With as much as I enjoyed this one, I’m more than likely going to pick up ‘Fangirl’ soon even though my TBR pile is extensive. However, if you’re looking to read this, I wouldn’t worry about which one to pick up first. They are totally different story lines from what I can tell. If anything, I believe that reading this one first may actually help with reading ‘Fangirl’ since these characters are part of what drives Cath. Maybe that’ll be a later blog post?

So what can I say about ‘Carry on’? Like I mentioned earlier, I picked it up on a whim. I didn’t have any real drive to read it other than sheer curiosity. Sadly, within the first few chapters, I wasn’t completely sure that I’d enjoy it. I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan and the similarities made me wonder if I was just going to be rehashing my beloved Hogwarts adventures, albeit an extremely poor rendition. There’s a “Chosen One”, a best friend sidekick, a supposedly evil arch-nemesis classmate, the “Holier than Thou” headmaster, magic, and a hidden school for wizards (or as Ms. Rowell calls them, Mages) to name a few similarities. The whole thing felt like a diluted regurgitation of the world wide Rowling phenomenon. But, because I’m also a bit O.C.D. when it comes to reading, I told myself that I had to see it through to the end. And boy, am I ever glad that I did!

It was a little over 100 pages in that I realized I might actually enjoy it. While the surface appeared to be Harry Potter, the underlining mystery and characters were nothing alike. I won’t go into all the plot points, because I’d like you to read it, but I have to mention a couple that I have to give props to Ms. Rowell for including in ‘Carry On’. So stop reading if you don’t want it to be ruined for you!

The first is the story behind the Insidious Humdrum. I feel like there is some hidden and life shattering message there. The type of message that future English teachers will have their students musing over endlessly and writing papers on. For me, it’s right there, like a thought that is just out of reach. I’m sure if I ruminate on it, I’ll glean something profound. But I digress, when I found out who the Humdrum is, my jaw dropped. I didn’t have a clue until a few chapters before it was revealed and even then, I couldn’t quite put all the pieces together. That one twist alone could be what makes this different from Harry Potter. But it isn’t!

The other thing I didn’t see coming was what happened between Simon and Baz! I’ll admit, I thought the way Simon was going on and on, acting all paranoid because Baz hadn’t come back to school was a bit obsessive. Sure, be concerned and be on your guard that the kid who tried to kill you multiple times and steal your girlfriend is plotting something horrible. But in my opinion, Simon took it to extremes. When Baz finally made it to Watford, Simon was all over him to find out where he’d been and what he’d been up to those few weeks. It wasn’t until Baz revealed how he really felt about Simon that it started to click a bit for me as to why Baz busts Simon’s chops all the time. At this point, let me interject that most of the story is told from the first person perspective so there is a lot of internal monologue. Simon didn’t find out how Baz felt until MUCH later. Even then, it was Simon that made the first move purely out of instinct. Simon, hating to see someone he cared about hurting and afraid that he was about to lose Baz to suicide, did what any of us would do to stop the person we love from going down that rabbit hole. It was a total “shut up and kiss me” moment and I loved it!

Now, I have never read a love story between same sex partners. Not that it disgusts me or anything, I have just never thought to read any of it. Honestly, had I have known the love story was between two blokes (to use Simon’s jargon), I’m not sure I would have picked it up. I was hesitant and worried that I wouldn’t be able to relate. I have quite a few gay friends but as a straight woman, I don’t see what they see when looking for a partner. However, love is love and if it makes you happy, go for it! I won’t judge. Amazingly and thankfully though, I was proved wrong in my concerns because there was no inability to relate! Ms. Rowell has a way of getting to the heart of the moment. I didn’t see two guys falling for each other and kissing, I felt two souls waking up to what was already there and had been growing for some time. The insecurity and uncertainty of new love overshadowed the WHO was falling in love. It was all feels and I’m glad Ms. Rowell brought this dynamic into her story. I’m ecstatic that this topic is even being broached in a Young Adult novel! I have mad respect to Ms. Rowell for opening my eyes and expanding my horizon in that regard. I kind of hated to leave Simon and Baz when the story was over because I was so in love with them. It seemed their relationship was rocky (and no wonder, that ending utterly changed Simon!) but they were working through it maturely. That bit about seeing a counselor, GOLD! But I’m selfish and I wanted to be certain of their “Happily Ever After”. I guess I’ll just have to imagine it myself.

There’s so much more I could probably delve into – opinions of the characters, writing style, story progression, etc. – but I feel like I’ve covered the main points that were important to me. I hate dissecting every little part of story I love. It kind of ruins it for me. So if you’d like to know more about what makes Simon and Baz tick; if you’d like to know what the synopsis means by “ghost story”; if you’re curious as to what the other major mystery was that brought Simon and Baz together (hint: it wasn’t the Insidious Humdrum!); I’d suggest picking up the book! You won’t be disappointed.

My personal rating: 4.5/5.0 Bookmarks


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