When I read Fangirl, the main impression it made on me was the sure knowledge that if a Simon Snow series did actually exist, I would read it in a heartbeat. It sounded funny, magical, and exciting. The advantage of being tremendously late to the Fangirl party was that I didn’t have to wait so long for the Carry On party to start.
For those who aren’t aware, Carry On is based on the fictional fictional characters of Simon and Baz and Penelope and Agatha and others who are mentioned in Fangirl. It’s sort of a mixture of the fanfic that Cath is writing in that book, and the actual series she’s writing about, and it’s just awesome.
I was not meant to be buying books (because I’m skint) or reading non-uni-related books (because I’m behind on work after having been in bed for two days with the flu) but I broke both those rules because I wanted to read this and it was so pretty and I was just so excited and IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT.
Things I particularly loved:
- It’s so gay. SO GAY. I mean, I guess that was to be expected, because of the whole Simon / Baz thing that Cath is obsessed with in Fangirl, but I wasn’t sure if Rowell was going to go the subtext route. No, apparently not. Okay, so I spent the whole thing wanting to go up to Simon and say, “The word you’re looking for is bi,” but that was a small matter. There are other queer characters! Background lesbians! I love me some background lesbians. BUT YEAH. It’s like gay gay gay gay gay gay gay gay.
- It’s hilarious. Seriously, there were moments when I laughed out loud so that my neighbours were probably very confused. Mostly this was just Simon being clueless (he is a bit, let’s be real).
- The magic system, because they use everyday quotes and phrases that people use — proverbs and fairytales and song lyrics. One of the spells at the end is part of Bohemian Rhapsody! THIS IS SO COOL. Just so cool. I love that. I love that everyday things could be actual spells, but also the idea that spells stop working and new ones are developed and people who speak different languages have different spells. So awesome.
- The way the different perspectives (it’s told in first person switching) contribute to the story — though I have to say, there were only a very few chapters from the Mage’s point of view and I felt they were a tiny bit unnecessary? They could’ve been cut and it wouldn’t have taken anything away, to be honest.
- How authentically British it sounded, which I thought Rowell wouldn’t be able to pull off, but she managed it! There were only a very few Americanisms that snuck through — a character having their foot on the gas, not the accelerator (and some Brits do call it gas because it’s quicker), a character referring to their platonic female friends as girlfriends instead of just friends, and one or two references to universities as schools (we don’t do that). Other than that, so much excellent Britishness. Good use of cursing and insults.
I imagine a few people have questions about this book, so I will answer them!
Do you need to have read Fangirl to understand this book? Nope, but it probably helps in places? There are a handful of points in the story where I was glad to have had the snippets and explanations that appeared in Fangirl so that I understood backstory, but it really doesn’t matter if you haven’t read it.
Isn’t it just a rip-off of Harry Potter, since it came across as a parody in Fangirl? I get why this could be a concern because most people read Simon Snow as a Harry Potter equivalent, but honestly, there’s a lot about it that’s really fresh and original. The magic system’s totally different, the way the world’s set up has a handful of similarities but very few — and the characters seem way more engaged in the ‘Normal’ world than the wizards in HP are with the Muggle world, so you get a lot of modern references. Plus they have laptops at school. No, really.
Is the gayness explicit? Well, like, they’re explicitly stated to be queer? Especially Baz. Baz references it a few times and it’s awesome and I love him so much, my gay vampire child. But there’s no explicit sex. Just some kissing. It’s cute.
Is it good? YES YES YES YES IT’S SO GOOD. I enjoyed it so much — I bought it as a present to cheer myself up because I’ve had the flu and I read the whole thing today even though it’s over 500 pages and I had lectures to go to and things like that. I can definitely see myself reading it again in the future: I think it would lend itself to that.
ALSO DID I MENTION THAT IT’S GOOD.
Okay, that’s all. Go and read it now. Bye.
I mean, I know who Baz is. I know what he is.
I can’t break up with Simon for a Tory vampire — my parents would disown me.
But would Baz really vote Tory? Would he though? Also, Agatha: priorities, mate.
“I didn’t think you were gay,” I say. Quietly.
He shrugs. Half of Snow’s sentences are shrugs.
“What does that mean?” I whisper.
“I don’t know,” he says, closing his eyes. “I guess I’ve never thought much about what I am. I’ve got a lot on my plate.”
Okay. I’m done now. Go read the book. You can find it on Amazon here (and if you buy it through that link I get a tiny amount of money, because Amazon associates, so… yay?)