I had so much fun listening to this YA fantasy novel by Rainbow Rowell. I thoroughly enjoyed Carry On and was sad when I finished it to think I wouldn’t get the chance to hang out with these characters again. If only I had known I would get a sequel four years later!
Since Carry On was like the seventh Harry Potter book, it was supposed to be the end of the series, but like Rowling, Rowell apparently couldn’t resist all her fans clamoring for more, so we got to see what happens to the Chosen One when he’s no longer the Chosen One.
Not only is Simon struggling to live in a world where he and his friends aren’t in constant peril, but he’s also been stripped of his magic, which means he’s been stripped of his identity twice over: not only is he not the Chosen One, but he isn’t even a mage. And those two things are all he’s ever known how to be.
But Simon isn’t the only one struggling. His girlfriend, Agatha, has always been the damsel in distress, and his best friend, Penny, has always been the one with a plan, and neither of them really knows what to do with their new situation either, although they’re both trying their damndest to make it work.
Agatha flew all the way to L.A. and has been busy trying to avoid everyone from her past life, but Penny isn’t about to let that happen. She keeps calling and texting Agatha, and Agatha trying to ignore her just makes her more persistent.
Finally, Penny decides it’s time for a trip to America. She and her boyfriend haven’t spoken in a while, so somehow she thinks if she just shows up at his house in Chicago they can talk and everything will be OK. You can see where this is going, right?
Yep. Her boyfriend already has another girlfriend. He said he kept trying to tell Penny he was breaking up with her, but she never wanted to hear it. That might be true, but he’s still a coward and an ass for not coming right out and saying, “Penny, I’m breaking up with you.”
Having dealt with her first breakup, Penny decides to “carry on” with their road trip from Chicago to California. Simon has always loved the idea of the classic American road trip, but like most Europeans, they have no idea what that actually means. They assume that America is the same size as any other European country and are completely baffled to realize that there are several states between Illinois and California, and each one is the size of France. At one point, Penny says, “I’ve never even heard of Nebraska,” which made me laugh, knowing that Rowell is from Nebraska.
In Rowell’s magical world, spells are taken from colloquial sayings used by the local “Normals”. The frequency with which they’re used is what gives them power. Unfortunately, they run into a dead spot in the course of their road trip because there aren’t enough Normals in the area to create any magic, and that becomes a problem.
Baz (Simon’s vampire boyfriend) also runs into problems by assuming there’s a problem with his wand (or him) when he fails to cast even basic spells. It takes Penny pointing out to him that he’s trying to cast spells using British slang instead of American slang. The adjustment requires some trial and error from both of them, but Penny catches on much more quickly than Baz.
In the course of their adventures they encounter vampires who want to learn how to wield magic (apparently Baz is an anomaly). Baz also encounters a vampire who teaches him how to control his bloodsucking urges and that you can drink from a human without killing them. Unfortunately, the same vampire sells them out to the vampire cult that has Angela and is experimenting on her to try and find out how to become magical themselves.
They manage to save her (again), before getting a call that something has happened back at Watford (i.e. Hogwarts) and they’re needed back there immediately.
I’m so glad that means there’s going to be a sequel and I cannot wait to enjoy it as much as I’ve enjoyed the first two books in this series!
What did you read/listen to this week? Any other sequels you hadn’t realized you’d been waiting for?