Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Rating: 4/5

Mood: Light, funny, cheeky, romantic, easy

Description: If Harry Potter and Twilight mated and produced a spawn with a hard-ass edge.

Best Elements: 

  1. Carry On originated from the fan fiction book within the book Fangirl. Rowell used the narrative of magician boarding school students as the counterpoint to a student at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. If you loved that book, there is something geek lovely about getting to finally read Cath’s fan fiction.
  2. Unlike most of the classic tween boarding school fantasy books, this one is told in multiple first-person narratives. In other words, you get to know what is in everyone’s head. While this device has been mistreated in recent years, Rowell employs the construct wonderfully, playing the interior minds against each other.
  3. Rowell is particularly masterful in her dialogue. She must have a strong emotional intelligence, b/c she draws characters in ways that express anxiety, sadness, uncertainty, melancholy, and joy so well.
  4. The Names! I mean the Humdrum as the bad guys. The Mage! This part is a particular dig, I think, at J.K. Rowling and some of her wordplay (like Diagon Alley).
  5. The End! Won’t spoil it but I must admit that I felt so happy for Cath (from Fangirl) that she got the ending she wanted.

Worst Elements: 

  1. The Names!: As much as many of the names made me chuckle, there were a few that made me groan. The thing about J.K Rowling or J.R.R. Tolkein is that you have a number of books to help you wade into another universe. For those people who have read Fangirl, they have a little bit of preknowledge about fangirl. But the love isn’t strong. You feel a bit like you are being thrown in the deep end, and you don’t even know what a pool is. But, if you are up on the general genre you get it.
  2. The Meta nature: I would say that this book would be hard to enjoy if you didn’t already love Cath. Read fangirl first, and then you will want to get busy with the 500  plus tome.

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