Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow: the Chosen One, the greatest Mage the world has seen, and possessor of an exceeding amount of magic. Who would expect a boy of such prestige to be an orphan? Simon is told time and time again that those with magic flowing through their veins don’t give up their children–magic simply isn’t dispensable. So why is Simon Snow, legatee of such a copious amount of magical power, a foundling?

At the age of eleven, Simon is taken from the care home he’d been dwelling at by the Mage, a powerful and esteemed man who holds the position of headmaster at Watford, a school for people who possess magical blood. As Simon is the only orphaned student, the Mage cares for him, and makes sure that every September, after a summer spent at a care home, Simon gets safely to Watford.

In Carry On, Simon is entering his eighth and final year at Watford, which proves to be quite tumultuous. The year starts off ordinarily enough. Simon strategizes with his best friend, Penelope Bunce, about how to best defeat the Insidious Humdrum, an absurd yet aggravatingly quick-witted and bothersome creature who has seemingly atrocious intentions. He had, in previous years, made multiple attempts at castigating the magical world and Simon Snow in particular.

Simon, Penny (Penelope), and Agatha (Simon’s girlfriend) continue to speculate upon the different threats and issues that the Humdrum’s actions have caused, but their efforts thus far have led them nowhere. After an unsettling encounter with a departed soul, Simon ends up forging a shaky, yet advantageous truce with his roommate, Tyrannus Basilton Grimm-Pitch, a bitter and austere boy who has done nothing but provoke and nag Simon at every chance he gets. However, despite the facade of icy forbiddingness he puts forward, Basil may have trouble keeping his true feelings for Simon in check.

Simon Snow and his story was originally introduced in Fangirl, another phenomenal novel by Rainbow Rowell, as a fictional series that Cath (the protagonist in Fangirl) is obsessed with. Small excerpts of Simon Snow are featured in Fangirl, but Rowell thought that it deserved its own book, so that is the reason for which she wrote Carry On.

I entirely adored this book. I fell in love with the characters (Baz is my favorite!), and I fell in love with the world Rowell created. I extol how significantly she strayed from her normal style of realistic fiction and how she was able to create such a vivid and enticing world. Another thing that I enjoyed about this book was how Rowell switched perspectives so that the reader could get a clear and full picture of what was going through each of the characters’ minds.

This book was such a compelling and fascinating read, and I will definitely read it again in the future. The characters are all very endearing, and I loved the relationship between Simon and Baz: sworn enemies who have united against an evil cause. Will their truce only heighten their hatred toward each other, or will it bring them closer together?

-Elina T.

 

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

carryon_rainbowrowellMost books are about fictional characters. Not many books, I feel, are about fictional-fictional characters. The story for Carry On follows the magical world of Simon Snow – the source of fanfiction for Cath in Rowell’s previous novel, Fangirl (which is also very good, you should read that). The whole thing sounds a bit complicated and I haven’t even begun talking about the plot.

The book takes place in Simon’s last year at his magical boarding school. It feels as though this is the last book in the series as if there could have been a book following each of Simon’s years at the Watford, but Rowell does an amazing job of giving the reader enough information while still maintaining a layer of mystery. Besides the beautiful storytelling, it would be impossible to read this book and not compare it, at least a little, to Harry Potter. The main character is the chosen one brought up in the normal world, prophesized to appear when the world needed him most, and goes to a magical boarding school during the year only to be forced to live in the normal world during the summer holiday. Oh, and both take place in England. But beyond that circumstantial similarities, Carry On really stands out as its own book.

The plot is rich, the characters all very distinct (Penny is my personal favorite) and not everything goes as expected. The magic world of mages is weird and different, but with just enough familiarity (the use of electronics for instance) to not make it seem too otherworldly. The story’s main antagonist, the Insidious Humdrum, is a pretty good villain despite the ridiculous name.

I don’t want to say much more because this is a book you want to go into without any spoilers. I got completely sucked into the story. There are some changes in perspective, all in the first person, but I never had trouble discerning who was who. If you are looking for a new magical boarding school book that is truly amazing, keep calm look no further than Carry On.

-Nicole G., 12th Grade

Carry On is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

Book Review: Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor_parkWhile browsing Sparknotes one night for help with homework, I was lured into the “fun section.” You know, the section where you can find information about celebrities, current events, and popular books. Well, I’m very glad I did, because there was an article on great books to read during the summer. Eleanor & Park was near the top of the list. The comments on the book were mostly positive, so I decided to give it a try.

Guys, this book is really, really good. It’s funny, exciting, and relatable on so many levels. Eleanor & Park follows the lives of two teenagers in high school as they go through all of the awkward stages of love.

It’s not a typical, boring, lovey-dovey type of love story, but rather it is raw and honest. Both Eleanor and Park struggle to find their respective places in the world, and both have issues with their parents (problems I think most teenagers can easily relate to).

The story is told in a dual-narrative style, with both Eleanor and Park sharing their opinions on the events taking place.  I usually don’t like this type of narration because it can easily become repetitive and boring.  However, Rowell manages to keep it fresh, without rehashing scenes that the reader already knows about. Overall, the book was very enjoyable to read, and I definitely recommend it!

-Amanda D., 12th grade