Audiobook Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On
Rainbow Rowell


Here’s an example of how my reading tastes may get in the way of a proper review. I downloaded this book on a whim. I knew it was Young Adult, a genre I usually like, but I didn’t read about what Carry On was about ahead of time.

Carry On is a teen love story that takes place at a magic school outside of London. The magic people are at war because the Insidious Humdrum is eating holes into the atmosphere. If the Humdrum goes unstopped, the world of magic will disappear.

Simon Snow is in his last year at Watford School of Magiks and he is the chosen one, the only mage who has a chance of defeating the Humdrum. He’s an orphan and is under the tutelage of the school’s director, The Mage. But Simon is clearly not ready to take on his predetermined role in defeating the Humdrum. He is often clueless and his spells need work. At Watford, he has a girlfriend, Agatha, a best friend, Penny and his nemesis roommate, Baz, is a vampire. Despite their magic, the four are typical teenagers with the usual problems and angst.

The story begins in the fall of the kids’ last year at Watford. Simon is glad to be back after a summer with the Normals. When Baz is late returning to school, Simon is both relieved, but strangely worried. It’s the first sign that something is going terribly wrong at Watford. Will Simon and Baz be able to get past their problems and will the friends be able to stop the Humdrum? Can they count on The Mage, who’s often away, to help them?

I don’t want to spoil the story for fans of this type of book. Rainbow Rowell is a popular writer in this genre. Simon is also a character in another one of her books, Fan Girl, a fanfiction story. But Carry On is written in the first-person point of view of each character, so it’s a separate story. I must also mention the obvious similarity to Harry Potter. There are heated debates about whether this is okay. I’m not at all into Harry Potter (I know, sorry…) or fanfiction, so I will only just mention it. I also found the audiobook a little confusing because the subtle changes in the narrator’s voice made it hard to know who was talking.

But I thought the story was well developed, with good building tension in the plot. There are clear good guys, villains, some I was unsure about and plenty of lesser characters that make important appearances later on. For me, the plot was a little too crazy and the finish was really out there. Fans are guaranteed lots of magic and vampire stuff, plenty of romantic twists and an action-packed conclusion. I thought the wrap-up was good because it gave me a clear view of how the characters will move on with their lives in the second book of the Simon Snow series, Wayward Son.

So for me, just okay, but I’m clearly not the designated reader. I was glad to learn more about the genre, however, and think those who like books about magic and vampires would enjoy Carry On.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

22 thoughts on “Audiobook Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

  1. I read Fan Girl, so this was interesting to me to know that she made a spin off book from that story line. Interesting. I probably won’t read it, but cool, nonetheless. Thanks for the news!

    1. Hi and thanks for stopping by. I can’t really get my head around fan fiction – and I don’t know much about Fan Girl, just that Simon Snow is a character in it. Is that correct?

      1. The main character in Fan Girl was writing this fan fiction story for her writing class, so every now and then, the main Fan Girl narrative would be interrupted by Simon and Baz’s story. They sort of had a love/hate relationship going, those two. Was that the case in Carry On, also?

  2. Hi Barbara, I listen to podcasts although I haven’t thought about an Audiobook. I am often a fan of Young Adult books and series although, it still depends on the book. Your review reminds me how I prefer actually reading a book versus the Audiobook.

    1. Hi Erica/Erika – I do enjoy listening to audiobooks, but I prefer print because I like to see the words and get the full meaning of the story. But they’re great to listen to when I’m out walking. I think the reason I didn’t get into Carry On as much as others is because it’s really meant for the YA audience. And I’m not really into magic and fantasy fiction. Thanks for stopping by. Are you reading anything good right now?

      1. I just finished a captivating, fascinating and sometimes disturbing book “Consider This” Chuck Palahniuk. His cover description “Moments in my writing life after which everything was different.” Too many gems to try and summarize here. From elibrary. Despite 100’s of books on my current reading list, I may read it again. I don’t know how you do it, Barbara 🙂 You are an inspiration!

  3. I am indebted to Harry Potter for getting my son to read (they grew up together; my son was the same age as Harry as each book came out). Prior to Harry, he refused to read anything. I read the books as well because my son loved them so much. 🙂

    1. Hi Lynette – oh yes, whatever gets kids reading is great. My tastes go to other types of fiction, but you can’t deny the popularity of Harry Potter books. Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

  4. No apologizes Barbara, I’ve never even read any of the Harry Potter books. Thanks for the review. I do enjoy books written in first person…very tough POV to write though.

    1. Hi Jill – I love first-person stories. I think because I was listening to the audiobook, that’s what made it harder to keep the characters straight. That can be a problem with all audiobooks – sometimes with plot too! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. We are having a rainy stay-at-home Sunday – what’s the weather like for you?

  5. Barbara, I’m glad you gave this a try! I’m a big fan of Rainbow Rowell (and Harry Potter!), and I loved Carry On (and the sequel, Wayward Son) — but I think you have to enjoy the genre to enjoy this book.

  6. Great review! This was also a 3 star read for me, I think (it’s been awhile since I read it). I absolutely love Fangirl and my least favorite parts of the book were the Simon Snow parts. Whenever I re-read Fangirl I skip over those parts. Rainbow Rowell used to be my favorite author, but starting with this book she hasn’t written anything I’ve been interested in for awhile.

    1. Hi Jennifer – thanks for reading. I’m probably not the right audience for Carry On, not being a Harry Potter fan. What was Simon’s character like in Fan Girl? Hope you are doing well.

      1. I’m hanging in there! I found Fan Girl ok but didn’t get as much out of it as I did Eleanor and Park. I was never a Harry Potter fan either. The only fantasy I really ever loved was The Wizard of Oz. 😊

      2. Hi Jennifer. I feel like I’m being shamed when I admit I don’t really like fantasy. I did love Lord of the Rings, but that was it. I don’t think I’ve actually read The Wizard of Oz. Did you read Wicked? I did like that one, but it was a lot of work to read, as I remember. I’m glad you are doing well. How is your cat feeling?

      3. I didn’t read Wicked, no. Funny story: Paul and I sat down to watch the first episode of Game of Thrones because everyone told us how great it was. We didn’t get very far before someone held up or mentioned a dragon’s egg, I can’t remember which. We looked at each other, shook our heads and switched to something else to watch! I do like science fiction and futuristic stuff as long as it feels realistic and possible, know what I mean? Yes of course you do. 😊
        Maisie is not good. I think we have to make a decision very soon. 😔

      4. I watched the Game of Thrones pilot and completely relate to your reaction. Too much for me! I’m sorry about Maisie… thinking of you 🙁

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