This is an extensively awesome and also long review so you should read it and not this. In case you don’t know,Carry On is by Rainbow Rowell and was published recently. We got our friend Anna (remember her?) to help us write this-Shar
Shanti: Hi you guys. I thought that we’d start with a three word description, then sort of interview each other about our thoughts. My three words are: Delicious (because seriously the food), eerie, and surprising.
Shar: My three words are ship, thatendingthough (totally one word), and keptkeepingmeuplate (maybe this is more like a hashtag: I guess I could also use the word engrossing)
Anna: My three words are adorable, surprising and nostalgic (because Harry Potter memories…)
Shar: So Anna and Shanti, what were your first reactions to the ending? (Because starting at the beginning is too mainstream)
Shanti: Truth be told, something along the lines of “How can this be over?”
I was also a little bit confused, because I didn’t know the morality of *spoiler alert* certain characters. Also whether another character was dead or not because rosebuds.
Anna: I thought it was unfair. It’s like depriving him of the only thing he valued. *no spoilers*
Shar: I actually liked that, to be honest. His choice at the end and the way the Insidious Humdrum was defeated was so utterly unlike most chosen one books. I enjoyed that creative aspect so much. *tries so hard not to spoil*
Shanti: It sort of reminded me of the Rest of Us Just Live Here, actually (we’re totally spoiling people, guys)
Shar: Also, with Lucy, I was soo confused like what even. Is she alive? Is she dead? Is she only there for the sake of dramatic irony?
Shanti: Shar, you’ve been learning your english class vocab, I see.
Anna: I was confused too. I kept getting mixed up between Lucy and Baz’s mum
Shar: Me too! I thought they were the same for a while
Shanti: I think we can all agree that it was a very fast paced and dramatic conclusion though.
Shar:Yes. Moving on. Let’s discuss favourite characters?
Shanti: Me too! I also really liked Baz and Ebb. And Nico was fascinating to read about, especially as we see several different vampire sides. Really though, I was rooting for most of the characters.
Shar: This book definitely did secondary characters well. They were round and just as intriguing as the main characters. But how did you feel about all the different perspectives? (Some felt unnecessarily confusing to me, actually)
Shanti: I know what you mean, but the flashbacks worked quite well to flesh out the world, particularly if you hadn’t read Fangirl. Simon’s memories featured quite heavily too. Did we get a point of view from Ebb or Baz’s mum? *can’t remember* Also Shar, let me ask the next question, you have to share.
Shar: Okay, fine. And no, we didn’t get their perspectives, as far as I remember..
Anna: They were, I had to keep going back and checking who was “speaking”. And there was definitely one from Ebb. *spoilers – it was near the end*
Shanti: I did like how the voices developed and worked together to tell the story- I particularly noticed Penny, Baz, and Simon as being pretty distinct. And the chapter headings helped too. Agatha was sort of unnecessary until the end, I think. Next question: Do you think the plot distracted from the characters or vice versa? Because it sometimes seemed to me like they were warring with each other, and the characters were a bit stronger. I still loved both the plot and the story though.
Anna: I see what you mean, it was definitely more of a character-driven book. There was a lot more sitting around, talking, plotting and angsting than your average finale. (It is written by Rainbow Rowell)
Shar: This was because of the ship we saw so much of in fangirl (not that I remember much of Fangirl), *fangirls* You’re right though, Anna. I definitely felt the middle and beginning were a lot less actiony than the end we alluded to earlier.
Shanti: Carry On was definitely a very contemporary flavoured fantasy, and I think its’ (semi) standaloneness helped that. I do adore Rainbow Rowell’s writing too- it’s so present and lively.
Shar: Yes, Carry On definitely had a more contemporary, easier to read feel than most fantasies. It was good but weird. Authors changing genres isn’t that common, if you think about it.
Anna: Also angst and unrequited love. but with merwolves.
Shanti: Lots of both of those things. I wanted to find out more about the merwolves, but I loved that they were just there (sort of like the giant squid in HP)
Anna: Definitely. Obviously this book is a sort of follow on from Fangirl, and Cath spends most of the book fangirling about Carry On and Simon. Was this book any different from how you imagined it to be, having Cath describe it first?
Shanti: Hmm, interesting question. There were definitely parts of Cath’s fanfiction that weren’t in the novel, but I imagine that fragments would be hard to incorporate into a entirely different whole. I mentioned this to you before, Anna, about how Carry On is somewhere in between Carry On, Simon, and Simon Snow and the Eighth Dance (is that what it was called) You don’t need to read Fangirl to read this, but it totally helps. It was interesting, because while Carry On was definitely *sings* A book worth fighting for *stops singing* it was a bit different, because Simon and Baz hadn’t been in love for years, but Cath’s passion for the story helped me to love it.
Anna: Are we going to start making mulan references? Because DISHONOUR ON YOU!
Shanti: DISHONOUR ON YOUR COW!!
Shar: Dishonour on your cow! But I need to be honest here, I don’t remember much of Fangirl. *reads ancient review*. Apparently I thought that from Fangirl, Carry On sounded fun! It totally was (you can find the review in our archives, but please don’t. I hadn’t blogged very long, and it sucked). It was fun, but also very intense and good and less Harry Potteresque than I originally thought. (It got less like Harry Potter the more I liked the characters)
Anna: You’re absolutely right. The lack of context in some of the excerpts in Fangirl will haunt me forever (how did they end up hanging off a cliff? I will never know.) You’re right Shar, but you can’t deny some of the characters were very familiar *cough* Ebb = Hagrid (almost) *cough* There was also a lot less kissing than advertised.
Shanti: I wanted to know more about Penny’s boyfriend and the Americans! So I have another question: What did you think about the Harry Potter parallels? Is this fanfiction, and is it okay to sell it if that’s the case?
Anna: Well, not exactly. It was more an embellishment on the idea, and while there are parallels it definitely wasn’t exactly the same. Also, on piracy issues: other books have been published that are fanfictions but with the names changed.
Shanti: The differences to Harry Potter were pretty interesting too. The magic system was really cool (and did they ever make up their own spells?) And the morally ambiguous Mage was really interesting as a not-quite Dumbledore figure. I also thought it was interesting how much more in control of Simon the Mage was (like choosing his foster homes) compared to the Dumbledore-Harry relationship. I don’t think it’s fanfiction- Rowell changed enough for that, but you could see how the boarding-school magic genre (which is certainly extended beyond HP and Carry on- think of the Iron Trial and Princess Academy) has stemmed from Harry Potter
Shar: *cough* Fifty Shades of Grey *cough* . There were parallels, but I found the differences significant enough to get over. No houses, less of a formal school structure, more connecting Muggles/Normals. There was a clear british/boarding school/magic theme(Did it sound just a tad American to anyone else? I think I caught most of the British references, but just a few wordings sounded American. Anna? (resident Brit, help us!).
Anna (resident Brit): I thought she did really well on the British thing, considering. She got most of the slang right, there were a lot of TV references etc. (I have never seen the word chavvy written down before. Who knew it had two v’s?). Although she does make references to ounces and yards, which we don’t use. Also, Downton Abbey.
Shar: I love Downton Abbey. It’s like a TV show version of a early 20th century chic flick. (i.e, Shar in heaven)
Shanti: What does chavvy mean exactly? Downton Abbey references are the best. I should finish watching that show, I think the sixths season is airing currently.
Anna: Chavvy is kind of a mean way of saying lower class. Sometimes it just means the sort of person that drinks and smokes etc. And you should. Although season six is a little…messy.
Shanti: hmm, I guess I’ll find out if I watch it. I did realise that there would be less plot if everyone hugged each other and told the truth. What did you guys think about the romance?
Anna: *smug smile* Not that kind of messy… I thought it was adorable. There was a lot of tension and misunderstanding (hush little Basil, don’t you cry. Mama’s gonna sing you a lullaby…), but basically they are my babies. STAY TOGETHER AND BE HAPPY.
Shar: *squees* *fangirls* Shanti could attribute to the fact that the adorableness and amazingness made me squeal probably too much. And they were so perfect and cute but then it took a while and Simon *hugs Simon* and also Baz! *hugs Baz* *feels happy* *can’t talk*
Shanti: It was highly adorable, and the tension was awesome. I loved how they overcame their enmity (even if it maybe wasn’t enmity at all), and also that there were other gay characters and also CHRISTMAS AT THE PITCHES.
Shar: So, the last question (because anyone who reads a review this long is already a hero!). How many stars does it get, and why?
Shanti: Four Stars. There were a few little things that bothered me, but overall it was a great story with amazing characters who do amazing things.
Anna: Same here. It was awesome, with great characters and intriguing plot, but not quite five-stars.
Shar: Again, I would agree with all the little things that made it imperfect, and the middle section was a bit long without enough action, but when I finished it my gut reaction was definitely 5 stars because it was so enjoyable. I’ll degrade it to 4.5 because of the above bothersome things, but just read it peoples.
Have you read Carry On? What did you think? How do you feel about almost-fanfiction? Which other genre switching authors can you think of? Do you watch Downton Abbey?