Faintingviolet turned me into a Rainbow Rowell superfan a few years ago, so I was very excited to get a beautiful special edition hardcopy of Any Way the Wind Blows for my birthday this year. The third and final chapter of the Simon Snow trilogy (which apparently wasn’t ever supposed to be a trilogy), follows our favorite cast of characters back to England where a whole bunch of new “Chosen Ones” are cropping up.
Baz finds out his step-mother’s joined one of the Chosen One cults, and he and Simon go on a new quest to figure out if this new Chosen One’s the real deal, and to get Baz’s step-mom to come home. While battling a potential cult, Baz and Simon are also navigating their relationship like a couple of soldiers stepping through a minefield. Penelope and Shepard are busy trying to undo the demon curse Shepard accidentally set on himself, and Agatha would like to leave the whole world of Mages behind and just be left alone.
Rowell does an excellent job in this book of both slowing down the pace (which was my biggest issue with book 2), and we focus more on the interior spaces of the characters and their relationships then on the plot itself. One of the reasons I love Rowell’s work so much is that we spend most of the book in the character’s minds and get a front row seat to their mental struggles. And while Simon and Baz get real steamy and dramatic several times throughout the story, I think Rowell accurately captures these two young characters’ struggles trying to navigate love and sex in a relationship that they’ve not seen modeled by anyone else. Neither of them really ever expected to get to the point in their relationship where the BIG questions would arise, and reading their very honest stumbles and patience and love with each other was a joy. Consent is also a huge factor of all the relationships in this series, and I loved that at every stage of Baz and Simon figuring themselves out, there were always tender questions and check-ins about what was comfortable and acceptable by the other. I love that Rowell has modeled these behaviors so brilliantly for YA audiences, and I’m kind of sad that this was the last book with these characters. I really loved spending so much time with Baz, Simon and the gang.
Bingo square: Shelfie