Challenge of the day: Count how many times we lose coherence in this post.
Duo Book Review of Carry On and Fangirl (But mostly Carry On)
Published : September 10th 2013 by St. Martin’s Press
Published : October 6th 2015 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Summaries (Taken from Goodreads):
A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. (S: YOU SEE THIS LINE? I’m instantly in loooooove F: Ugh, Sarah stop.)
Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… (F: Wow okay, me too. After Carry On.)
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.
Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. (S: Some obvious parallels to the Harry Potter fandom…)
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen. (S: After reading the book, I second that)(F: Frankly, having power is different than wielding it.)
That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right. (S: Warning, there is a whole section of this review dedicated to Baz)
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.
(S: Summary cont’d — Carry On starts off as a totally Harry Potter ripoff, reads like the last book in the series, but by the end transforms into something totally different. And that’s not counting the top notch snogging – did we mention that romance?)
ACTUAL REVIEW PART
(All the memes are at the end)
Sarah: Originally, we were going to write individual reviews for both books, but after reading Carry On and (re)reading Fangirl, we’ve decided to mash these two complementary books.
Faith: Cath. Levi. Simon. Baz. After reading Carry On, you realize all the more how it plays a role in Fangirl. Reviewing them together just sort of made sense.
Before Carry On (BCO): Fangirl is great but who IS this Simon Snow? Is it basically just another name in the place of Harry Potter to avoid copyright infringement? (S: So true. I was rolling my eyes so hard)… Sorry but could I just skip these random Simon Snow parts?
I mean who cares…
S: During Carry On (Beginning): Ohhhh… these guys! I sort of remember this! Wait – why is it like the inverse of Harry Potter?
During Carry On (End): ERMIGHD HOW HAVE I SURVIVED WITHOUT THIS? I need this… I must immediately start my new obsession…why am I crying?
F: After Carry On (ACO): Wow, I HAVE to reread Fangirl now. WHAT, Cath wrote that about Simon and Baz?! TRUE. She has posters? I WANT THEM.
[Rereads Simon Snow excerpts by Gemma T. Leslie.] Aww, look it’s Penelope and her red hair and purple ring!
I mean, THIS IS LIFE – Cath and I have a mutual fangirl relationship now.
S: The first time I read Fangirl, I was mildly intrigued. By then, fan fiction was something I was aware of and I saw it as an integral part of participating in a fandom, whether online or in real life. Reading, drawing, commenting… the goal was participation, not really quality or quantity. And that’s what drew me to the summary of Fangirl. I think anyone who describes themselves as a fangirl or fanboy can relate to this book. For one reason or another, self described fans have migrated to the internet to find like minded people and to bond over precious stories. (F: You mean us?) So a book centered around a subtype of fiction, and the stereotypes that face people who like it really interested me. Personally, I loved the way Rainbow Rowell portrayed fangirls and fangirling. It was like a fact of life… if you love a story, that is what it leads to. What I didn’t like as much were the characters.
It’s not that they were bad… it’s just that I couldn’t relate to them as much as I hoped. Their struggles were interesting, but strangely not even close to my experience with fangirling. The romance was so obvious that sometimes I felt like strangling the unnecessary, angsty characters. At the same time, the characters were engrossing… I feel I expected too much out of it and that’s why I enjoyed the characters less.
F: I found the characters pretty alright. There just wasn’t anything that necessarily stood out to me that was like BAM or AHH SO MANY FEELS (sometimes it had its moments) but it was written realistically. Cath was pretty relatable too if you’re a timid person at times but also a fangirl… like me.
Now, Simon and Baz on the other hand, weren’t relatable but they were great characters.
S: I’m going to be honest… with the exception of a few books, I hate fantasy books with a male narrator. And I don’t usually enjoy contemporary novels with male voices, because I can’t relate. The only exceptions are when a book’s plot, or other characters are too interesting to resist. So no, I did not relate to Simon or Baz. But I feel my propulsion through the (boring) beginning was fueled by an intense curiosity. I swear, Simon mentioned Baz so many times that I vowed I wouldn’t put down the book until I finally saw him in the book.
F: In the beginning of Carry On, meaning the first 150 pgs (literally), all you hear about is Simon freaking out about where Baz could possibly be. It’s basically Potter worrying the brains out of him all day and night about Malfoy. I know, weird. If you’ve already read Fangirl, then you would know about Simon & Baz’s relationship and a bit of their stories but for now, they hate each other’s guts. Simon can’t sleep nor eat because he worries that his roommate might stalk into the room in the middle of the night and kill him. Or something ridiculous like that. (I mean it’s not that ridiculous once you really read about their whole rivalry but still.) The whole time you just sit there thinking: “Okay, Simon. RELAX. But honestly, where’s Baz?! Come on already so we can get this story rolling!”
S: Yup. Anyone who has read past the 2nd Harry Potter book (AKA NOT FAITH) knows what I’m talking about. Harry and Malfoy, 5th and 6th book? So yes, at the beginning, there is a rivalry, but there is also Simon’s worry… which goes farther than ‘you’re my enemy’. Up until Baz shows up, the story sort of… sucks. It feels too meta (poking fun at Harry Potter, Fantasy, Chosen Ones etc) and takes too much from HP. I mean, other than setting up a setting the reader would have known have they read the first 7 books, the beginning serves no purpose. Unless it was to lull the reader into a coma only to wake them up with great character development and a cool plot. If that was the case, then it worked. 😀
F: The beginning of the novel reads as if you’re just going through something you’ve already read. Then, Baz returns and he is definitely one to make big entrances. But let’s be honest, that big entrance was directed mainly at one person. After that, you finally get to see how Carry On differs from Harry Potter and shines in its own light. You start seeing how it’s more than a fanfiction, it really breathes life into a world and characters of it’s own. So while reading Carry On, we advise you to scrap what you think you already know about the wizarding world because it’s a world re-envisioned.
S: Even the way the spells are cast are different (and actually really creative). It basically involves famous quotes/sayings/expression everyone knows, like ‘open sesame’. Anyways, the characters begin to set themselves apart, each with their own problems. There’s no ‘abandonment’ really, but there is talk of depression, self loathing, and questions of sexuality. All in all, problems I’d say most teens can relate to today (I’m sorry Harry, but I don’t have an evil, xenophobic magician after me. I really don’t. Malfoy: I beg to differ. I’M that evil magician and now I’m after you. S: Well damn. o_O) The setting was… not really important. We weren’t bombarded with the full ‘magic school’ experience (here’s looking at you, Feast of Hogwarts). It was also written in first person, so we got the full angsty-ness of both Simon and Baz, and occasionally the coolness of
Hermoine-Lite. I mean, Penelope.
F: In Carry On, actual words and phrases carry power and Rainbow Rowell really has a magic of her own. She brings the characters to life with the wit and sass that we all love. It’s part of her signature writing style that we also get to experience in Fangirl. Cath is timid, shy, and anxious about life beyond her own. She’s comfortable as she is and is unwilling to expand her world… so she turns to expanding the world of Simon and Baz because in the universe of fan fiction, anything is possible. Her own life though, is literally another “story”. (Since she writes fan fiction stories.) When Wren, her twin and trusty companion is gone and Reagan and Levi takes her place, Cath retreats to hibernation mode… and it’s surprisingly somewhat relatable. Post-secondary life is a scary, fun, and for most a necessary part of life (S: Wow faith, I feel ya stressing about Uni applications already).
S: Let’s be clear: Fangirl isn’t all about fangirling… rather it’s about a fangirl, and her story. So while not every experience will be the same, and not every character will capture your feels, I could relate to the emotions… and some of the struggles. Honestly, Fangirl was a hit and miss for me (because I read it after hearing SO MUCH hype). But it is quite a cute contemporary, with problems that I feel other people will enjoy. (F: Meaning “problems that people will enjoy reading about.” Haha enjoying a real life problem is another thing…I mean, who doesn’t?)
F: While I was reading it, I remember feeling a sort of pull. I wanted to continue reading but I just couldn’t place what it was. It didn’t absolutely blow me away (because I’m definitely no Dorothy in Kansas blown away by a tornado) but I liked it.
S: Basically, we thought Fangirl was more mediocre, and then read Carry On out of loyalty to Ms. Rowell. Then we really got sucked into the story itself, and it made re-reading Fangirl so much funnier.
F: Like we mentioned at the beginning, after reading Carry On, I actually went to re-read Fangirl and I related to it so much more because we were so much more attached to the world and the characters of Carry On.
In the end, both books complement each other nicely and if you’re already committed to reading one of the two, we would recommend giving both a shot! Now, it’s your turn in choosing which one to read first. 🙂
S: And here is our banner/ cover mash-up:
Fangirl: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Carry On: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Fangirl: 3 out of 5 stars
Carry On: 4.5 out of 5 stars
MEME SECTION (aka how every fangirl has felt, ever.)
Let the totally rabid fangirling begin.
Reading uber feels parts in public (aka attempting to discreetly fangirl)
Giving up because your don’t care any more::
Customary Snape Gif
Let Us List All our Feels
(Warning: Baz section. Not for those who tire of extreme gushing)
How we felt about Baz (lol):
How We Dream of Baz
What Simon Thought Baz Was Always Thinking Summed Up in a Meme:
What Baz Thought Simon Was Always Thinking Summed Up By Andrew Garfield:
What Both Simon and Baz Thought When They Became Roommates:
How Baz was at the beginning
How Baz was at the end:
How Simon was at the end:
How We Felt at The Beginning
How We Felt by The End
How Sarah was at the end:
FANGIRL FACT OF THIS POST: Feels has been added to dictionaries*. For Reals 😛
*online ones. At least it’s a start!
Thanks for reading through this uber long post! We hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed making this.
~ Faith and Sarah ❤