First Impression Friday: “Carry On” by Rainbow Rowell

I’ve seen this book on the shelves in bookstores for years (it came out while I was still working at BAM), but I never bothered to open it. I heard a few things about it from people online as to how good it was, but honestly, I didn’t like the cover and so I didn’t open it or even really read much about it, so I had no idea what it was about.

Then one of the book sites I follow on Facebook (I don’t remember if it was Buzzfeed Books or Book Riot) did a list of wizardry-alternatives to Harry Potter, and I decided to give it a shot. Requested it on Libby and started it the next day.

From GoodReads:

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 starts 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.

Rowell starts off by throwing you directly into the action at the beginning, and then in the second chapter takes a second to step back and have Simon narrate a list of things he likes about Watford School of Magicks, and this is how you sort of understand what’s been going on. We don’t get to see Simon grow up in the school like we saw Harry and Friends do; instead, we join him at the start of his very last year of wizard school.

The book advertises itself as:

Carry On – The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

…which, I mean, come on. I’ll give it a shot. Not a huge fan of love stories (but they can be done right, I suppose), but I’m going to give this one a fair shot. So far, the first two chapters have been a whirlwind of names and nouns and places, and I’m hoping it starts making sense soon. I’m starting to get an eerie feeling that this might be really, really bad Harry Potter fanfiction.

Also, I’m upset that the last book in the trilogy isn’t Peace When You are Done, or something along those lines, considering the first two books are called Carry On and Wayward Son.

I am very interested in seeing a new take on the Chosen One narrative, though. I don’t know if I’ve read a book yet that proclaims someone to be the “worst Chosen One ever,” so that’s exciting.

What do you think of Rainbow Rowell’s books? Do you have a favorite Harry Potter alternative? Let me know in the comments!

And as always, keep reading.

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