Carry On (novel)
|Publisher||St. Martin's Press|
|Media type||Print (Hardback), Audiobook|
Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is the third young adult novel written by Rainbow Rowell, published in 2015. The story follows the final year of magical schooling for Simon Snow, the "Chosen One" of the magical world prophesied to defeat the Insidious Humdrum, an evil force that has been wreaking havoc on the World of Mages for years. The novel is told through several narrative voices, including that of Simon, his roommate/enemy and later boyfriend Baz, his best friend Penelope, and his ex-girlfriend Agatha.
The novel is a spinoff from Rowell's novel Fangirl. "Simon Snow" is the name of the fictional series of novels that the protagonist in Fangirl (Cath) obsesses about. Carry On, Simon is the name of the novel-within-a-novel-based-on-a-book-series that Cath is writing in Fangirl. However, Rowell has said that Carry On is a standalone novel and not meant to be seen as written by Cath.
Simon Snow is returning to Watford, a magical school in England, for his eighth and final year. Over the course of the next few months, Simon comes to terms with his responsibility as the Chosen One, set to defeat the Insidious Humdrum, who has been creating magical "dead spots" all over England. In these locations, magic no longer exists, and magical creatures and magicians are unable to use their powers. Meanwhile, Baz, Simon's antagonist and roommate, struggles with his attraction to Simon and his efforts to conceal from Simon his identity as a vampire. Alongside this quest, Simon agrees to help Baz determine the cause of death of his mother, who was the previous headmistress of Watford before the current Mage was instated.
Baz is revealed to be gay early in the novel, calling himself "queer" and wondering how his father would react if he failed to carry on his family name. When Simon eventually acts upon his attraction to Baz and kisses him, Simon does not consider himself "gay" and decides he will sort out his sexuality later. He discusses it with his therapist and thinks he might be gay, while his therapist tells his it's not an important thing to consider at the time. Simon has previously had a romantic relationship with a girl, Agatha. One female character, Ebb Petty, has had relationships with other women, but it is not discussed in detail. Additionally, Penelope's roommate, Trixie, has a girlfriend.
The novel pays obvious homage to the Harry Potter series through the content of the fictional world, the overall story structure, and the extensive fandom (which is explained in Fangirl.) Both Hogwarts and Watford are magical schools that have been in existence for centuries and both are located in the United Kingdom. However, Watford offers eight years of schooling rather than seven - but it is mentioned that the eighth year is optional. The magical learning that goes on inside the two schools, and the rules of magic, are quite different.
Each student is endowed with a magical object through which they channel their magic. Some have wands, but other students have specific pieces of jewelry or clothing that they use to control their magic. Spells are created by using common turns of phrase, such as "Head over heels!" and "Up, up and away!" In one specific instance, the Mage uses lyrics from the Queen song "Bohemian Rhapsody."
There are distinct classes within the magical community. Powerful families are members of the Mage's Council, and they are responsible for ensuring the magical line lives on through their children and is preserved at Watford. Many students at Watford, especially Agatha, worry about finding suitable mates for their prestigious magical heritage in order to preserve their family's magic and continue producing magical children. Those who are not part of this prestigious group find themselves wondering if they have a place in the magical community, since members of the Old Families feel that they do not. There are mounting conflicts between the Mage and the Old Families throughout the book because of his reforms and invasion of privacy, and because of suspicion that the Mage was controlling the Humdrum.
- Main character, The Chosen One
Tyrannus "Baz" Basilton Grimm-Pitch
- A student at Watford, Simon's boyfriend
- A student at Watford, Simon's ex-girlfriend
- A student at Watford, Simon's best friend
The Mage or Davy
- Head of Watford
- Goatherd at Watford
- Baz's mother, headmaster at Watford before The Mage
- The Mage's girlfriend/wife
A sequel, titled Wayward Son, was announced on June 3, 2018. Though originally scheduled to be released in 2020, Rowell posted a new promotional image on various social media platforms on November 7, 2018, with a new release year of 2019.
The critical reception for the book has been mostly positive. The New York Times Book Review said: "Rowell imbues her magic with awe and spectacle. It's a powerful, politically minded allegory about sexual, ethnic and class identity - with a heady shot of teenage lust."