Monday, 9 November 2015

Wee Book Review: Carry On *spoiler free*

Hello lovelies!

Today I finally have another wee book review for you! Today's review is a little controversial but brutally honest as always! I have picked this title because it's a new release that has only received the highest of praise, but I feel that there are people like me out there who didn't enjoy it, and I just wanted to put a review out there that added a bit of balance, so please if you adored this and fangirl for Rainbow Rowell hard, I'd probably suggested skipping this review, please don't hate me!

Today's choice is Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Now I think I should admit before I even begin, that I have consistently had problems with Rainbow Rowell's books. Over the past year I have read Fangirl and Eleanor and Park, and while I really do enjoy Rainbow's writing style, there are just some things in her books that are too problematic to overlook (such as the racial stereotyping in Eleanor and Park). Because I do enjoy Rainbow's writing style, I am planning to attempt to read one of her adult novels for balance, but I think if I don't get on with that I'm going to have to finally admit me and Rainbow just ain't getting along! If you have any recommendations of which of Rainbow's adults books I should read please let me know below!

Back to the current book...let's talk about it, shall we?
Don't judge a book by it's cover... 

 Ok, so this cover is fine. It's not anything special. However, I have to admit the end papers of this hard back are quite awesome (it's a map of the magic school featured in the book). Also I enjoy that the book under the dust jacket has a print that matches the cover on it as well.

A little bit about it...

This book is pretty much impossible to talk about without describing the back story. This book, is a fictional story about fictional characters who appeared in a fictional story that was featured in the fictional book Fangirl (also by Rainbow Rowell). In Fangirl, the main character Cath, writes fan fiction about THAT fictional story.


(and let's not forget that it's clearly heavily influenced by Harry Potter...)
NOW...I would like to clarify something that has been bugging me like crazy. In a massive amount of reviews, this book has been described as a continuation of Cath's fan fiction. This is NOT the case. And was not intended to be perceived as such. Maybe you're wondering how I know this for a fact? What a cheeky lass this is, telling me about my favourite new book. Well, the reason I know this, is that this was told to me, by Rainbow Rowell, in the authors note, that is featured at the end of the story (evidenced below).

PHEW.  Now we're cleared that up, let's consider another issue. When talking about the plot, most people talk about what the book is, and the back story as described above but they haven't really covered the plot. And do you know what? I think there's a reason for that, and that is, there isn't much of a plot.

The book is about a magician called Simon, who returns for his last year at magic school, and his arch nemesis (Baz) has gone missing. And that's really it? I mean yeah he's been chased by a bad guy, but there's really no definitive plot based around that. Also, I'm like 99% this book would not have made an ounce of sense if you have not read or seen Harry Potter. If you are in that camp, please let me know what you thought of it because I honestly think I would have been ridiculously confused if I hadn't (and I'm more than happy to admit if I'm wrong of course!).

The best way I can describe this novel, is a character-driven (kind of) parody fantasy novel, and even then I really do question the parody.

What I disliked...

Ok so I think it's clear that I didn't love this book, but I'll keep it brief;
  • I disliked the magic spells, I get it was meant to be funny, but I just found it embarrassing and condescending.
  • The first half was really weak, I didn't even enjoy Rainbow's writing style like I usually do.
  • The multiple perspective sucked because firstly, we got just too many points of view, and because we've just met these folks, the POVs generally overlapped, which they kind of had to in order to make sense, but it was just repetitive.
  • I don't think the romance made sense, and it felt incredibly rushed to me.
  • There was pretty much zero world building, I couldn't imagine a damn thing!
  • Even though it wasn't "Cath's" fan fiction, this definitely read like fan fiction, and I, am just not a fan of that. I could get excellent Harry Potter fan fiction a million times over for free, so why would I want that from a book that I bought?
  • The conversation read like how people perceive the British to talk and not actually how we talk - it was so cringe worthy at certain points!  
  • AGATHA. just Agatha...
What I liked...
I didn't completely hate this book, and that was mainly for these reasons;
  • the LBGTQ aspect was great, I don't personally think it was well executed, but I'm happy it was included in book that was so highly anticipated and likely to reach a wide young audience. Props to Rainbow.
  • It was a super fast read despite it's immense size (517 pages in hardback).
  • Baz. because...Baz.
  • It was funny at points, mainly when Penelope was making observations of Simon and Baz was being sarcastic.
  • The second half of the book was a vast improvement and I enjoyed it a lot more, the pacing was better and around the half way point I was back to enjoying Rainbow's writing style.

If you liked this... 

I think you will enjoy pretty much any of Rainbow's other YA books. If I had to pick one, I would suggest picking up Fangirl, because even though I do still have some issues with this one, I still really enjoyed it and it is my favourite out the three I have read. Also, many people have mentioned that they enjoyed this book because they enjoying reading and writing fan fiction (which is admittedly a world I have never been part of) so if you enjoy fan fiction, then I think you will probably really appreciate this.

On Goodreads I awarded this...

A 3 out of 5 stars. I think for once, this is quite an accurate rating, as I would have gave the first half 2/5 and the second 4/5. I really wanted to love it, it just feel short for me.
My last thoughts on this... I'm pretty sure there will be another book in this series. This book was billed as a standalone, but if you've read the book, you'll know yourself that this book has been written with a clear option of a sequel. So if you loved it, I'm glad you'll get more of what you love. I have to admit, as much as I hate myself for saying it, I probably will pick it up!

Have you read Carry On? What did you think of it? I'd particularly love to hear from you if you were as disappointed in this as me. Let me know below!

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  1. It's always much harder to not just gush incoherently when reviewing a book you really love. This book completely blew me away, and will without a shadow of a doubt be high on my top 10 of 2015. If this is Rainbow Rowell's first attempt at fantasy, I can't imagine what she could do if she decided to play in the genre again some time.

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  2. About the reply before me, agreed.
    I personally like the POV switching--it gives me more info about the characters and their personality and views, etc. (It also gave me the creeps at first, the super short POV of Baz's mom. Gave tension and suspense somewhat)
    About the whole world-making, I can actually imagine the world, though not too clear. Good enough for me, tbh.
    The spells were actually pretty creative to me, it's sort of unusual and refreshing.
    What I sort of unsatisfied about is the lack of background; I would REALLY appreciate it if this book has prequels. I'd like to see the characters develop to this stage.
    That aside, this book is awesome.