I’ve been working on this review for a while, and I was finally going to polish it and publish it, but I ended up deleting it, so I’m going to quickly do a new one. I read Carry On back when it first came out (I would normally link to my review, but I never actually reviewed it). I loved it back then, so now that the sequel was being released, and with a bit of time to kill waiting for my fancy copy to arrive from England, I decided to do something I never do: reread the first book. *Gasp* *Scream* *Sirens* I enjoyed it just as much the second time, maybe even more! *Reader faints* And I’d read it again too!
Okay, now that all that silliness is out of the way, Simon Snow is a character from the Simon Snow series that Cath and Wren read in Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. Carry On isn’t those books, and it isn’t Cath’s fan fiction. It’s basically Rowell’s own fan fiction, but since it’s her universe, it’s canon.
Simon Snow is the Chosen One, the one the prophecy says will save magic. He was a skinny little orphan when he came to Watford School of the Magick Arts, and now he is the Mage’s Heir. Over the years, he has gone on countless adventures and quests, defeated enemies, slain dragons. He has done all this with the help of his best friend, genius Penelope “Penny” Bunce, and with his loyal girlfriend Agatha waiting for him. These adventures were somewhat complicated by his roommate and nemesis Baz.
Now that their final year at Watford is started, Baz is nowhere to be found. Simon believes that he is off plotting against the Mage, or something equally dastardly. He was actually kidnapped so that his mother’s ghost couldn’t reach him. Instead, she reaches out to Simon and asks him to find Nicodemus, find the person responsible for letting the vampires into Watford, the person responsible for her death.
Once Baz is back at school, he teams up with Simon and Penelope to solve the mystery. It’s during the Baz-narrated chapters that we learn that while Simon sees Baz as an enemy, Baz is in love with Simon. He’s also a vampire, turned as a child during the attack that killed his mother. Can two enemies ever have a future, especially a vampire and the Chosen One? It might be more likely than you’d think.
I really liked the world Rowell created in Carry On, the spells created out of song lyrics, movie quotes, nursery rhymes, etc. Using famous magicians as curse words also made me laugh. I remember having trouble keeping track of the narrators when I first read the book, so it was easier the second time. It was a lot of fun hearing about all the adventures Penny and Simon have been on over the years, and I wish I could read those books too. The characters are all great, from brave Simon to pining Baz to awesome, feminist Penny to poor, confused Agatha.
“How have I lived through so many happy endings without ever learning how to save the day?”
Wayward Son takes place not too long after Carry On. Simon and Baz are dating, and they share a flat with Penny. Penny and Baz go to university, but Simon is a bit lost. He’s no longer the Chosen One, and he’s stuck with dragon wings and a long tail. He has plans to break it off with Baz before Baz breaks up with him, but it’s put on hold when Penny decides they should all travel to America. She has been keeping in touch with Agatha, and she senses that something is wrong. They will fly to Chicago to visit her boyfriend, and then the three will drive out to California to check on Agatha.
Once they get to America, Penelope is devastated to learn that she no longer has a boyfriend. He thought he broke up with her, but she didn’t listen. They set off in their fancy rental convertible for a much longer trip than anticipated. Along the way, they encounter some unfriendly vampires and are helped by a non-magical young man named Shepard. He offers his guidance for their trip, and the three witches accept his help, then proceed to wipe his memory and dump him. He comes back, because the memory wipe didn’t take.
Shephard has travelled the United States seeking out all sorts of cryptids and magical creatures, and making friends with them. One of these friend points them towards Agatha, who has gotten involved with something called NowNext. On the surface, it seems like some New Age business seminar, but it’s really a group of vampires with a goal: to learn how to wield magic. They travel to the city of vampires, Las Vegas, so that Baz can cozy up to some vampires and get some information.
Baz does cozy up to a vampire, much to Simon’s displeasure. He also comes dangerously close to drinking human blood, a line he has never crossed before. America ends up surprising all of them. Spells are different there- the words come from non-magical people, and people talk differently in America. There are all sorts of dead spots they accidentally wander into, and threatening new enemies they encounter. What started as a fun vacation gets super intense! I’m very excited to read the third book to see what’s next with Baz, Simon, Penny, Agatha, and Shepard.
You can visit my review at its home at my blog here.