*This novel was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Ever since I read Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell has become synonymous in my mind with quirky YA contemporary romances. She writes diverse characters and teenage drama very well, and so when Carry On started to receive the hype that inevitably follows the release of one of her books I started to get excited, even more so knowing that the characters were the same ones that appeared so briefly in Fangirl. Before I started reading this I was warned by several people that what I was about to read was NOT Cath’s fanfiction OR the original (imaginary) series from the original (imaginary) author, but rather Rowell’s take on the characters. And I’m glad I knew this going in, or else I might have felt even more disappointed than I eventually ended up being.
Interestingly enough, for all my complaints about this book I actually sped through it at a surprisingly fast pace. This was helped by Rowell’s style of writing, of which I am certainly a fan. Out of all of the core characters in Carry On, the only person I think I was remotely invested in was Agatha, but she was barely more than a minor character for the most part. I loved her internal conflict and related to her desire to be a normal teenager – who doesn’t want normalcy at that age!
The thing about Carry On is that it is essentially Harry Potter fanfiction, and it is so difficult to separate it from this fact that I found myself struggling to enjoy it. I simply couldn’t get past the parallels. But, unlike Harry Potter, nothing much actually happened in this book. There was little to no action for the vast majority of the story, and the plot progressed far too slowly, which might not have been so bad if I’d had Rainbow Rowell’s trademark romance to keep me engaged. Thing is, I didn’t. Half of the couple was absent for a third of the book and then we had another third of relationship development before any of the characteristic cuteness you’d expect begins to emerge, and by then the boredom was setting in.
The characters, as with the locations (and so much else) were almost all the equivalent of someone from the Harry Potter universe. This was a problem for me because the result was a bunch of characters that didn’t feel in the least bit unique. They were somebody else with a few minor tweaks. They had depth to them, but their quirks felt so contrived and fabricated that I couldn’t take them seriously. And don’t even get me started on the magic system. I just found the whole thing silly and (brace yourselves) a little bit lazy to be quite honest.
Overall I’m going to give Carry On two point five out of five stars. Everything about it was, by my standards, average. I was interested enough to keep reading and there were no glaring issues, but it wasn’t anything special. I doubt very much that this will put me of from reading Rainbow Rowell’s future releases, but at least I know that not everything will be up there with Fangirl.