Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Carry On - Rainbow Rowell

'You have to pretend like you get an endgame. You have to carry on like you will; otherwise, you can't carry on at all.'
I think it turned out really pretty! (Though after reading it I
should have maybe gone for darker tones...)

I bought this book from Glasgow on the prettiest spring day last year purely based on the fact that you could colour it in yourself and I thought that was the coolest thing ever! (Also, it's signed by the author, which helped...) So last week I decided to get to it and actually colour it in and then read it. That's pretty much the whole story. I've not read Fangirl or Eleanor & Park but this was so good I definitely will, both of those.

I feel like this is one of those books where knowledge adds to the pain and you're better off knowing as little as possible. (Though if you've read Fangirl first you definitely know something I didn't) So I'll not tell you much of the plot but maybe hopefully enough so that you'll want to read it!

Simon Snow is The Chosen One - the one that will save the Magickal World. However, he's not able to control his magic, and everything else in his life is currently a bit of a mess as well. His girlfriend breaks up with him, and maybe they were never really in love anyway. The Insidious Humdrum is out to kill him, lobbing all sorts of monsters at him, and his horrible roommate is gone, probably also plotting his demise.

Blank book and mismatched woolly socks
The book is clearly inspired by Harry Potter, but I think it's in a very tasteful and inspired way. (Though some people seem to disagree, and that's okay too!) It has "all of this happened in our previous years" sort of recaps sometimes, and skips straight to their last year at Watford School of Magicks. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it would've been cool to read about Simon Snow, from the Normal World, learn about the magickal realm at the age of 11... but that would have been a bit too on the nose. This book is very meta, but at least it doesn't pretend that it's not the case.

The take on magic itself is also really interesting. They use words, but they're words that become more powerful the more they're used. Like nursery rhymes, which are mentioned as some of the most powerful spells, because they're forever stuck in your brain. Or sayings, lyrics, metaphors, that sort of a thing. They're very innovative and fun, and they're bolded and in italics in the book so you can always tell easily when someone's using their magic. I had to wonder how you'd make that work in an audiobook, since it's not like these words are always yelled or boomed or stuff, either.

I really liked how the Magickal World was portrayed with variety and depth, and the story managed to touch many different lives. It's also told through the eyes of many different people, which makes it even better. The only thing that doesn't get much coverage is the Normal World, but I think it's, like in Shadowmagic, an 'imagine your own life here' sort of a thing. It works just fine, since Normal isn't all that exciting in comparison anyway.

Work in progress!
I also liked all the characters for different reasons! I liked Simon because he was really caring and even though he was clearly important, he didn't try to make everything about himself. I liked Baz because he was misunderstood, but he didn't wear it like a cape. I liked Penny because she was helpful and smart and a really good friend. And Agatha because she was the most human out of all of them. I liked Ebb because I thought she was like Ilia from Twilight Princess. (too meta?) And even the characters who didn't get all that much page time all added to the experience, to the life and heart of the world.

This story is a very good portrayal of growth and what it's like to accept yourself even when it feels like you don't want to. It deals with a lot of important themes in a way that was surprisingly mature and not at all pointed. The romance (that's a thing) was cute and important but not overpowering. My main problem was probably with the ending - a lot of characters didn't find out things that I as the reader knew, and it bothered me because I was really hoping that all these loose strings would be tied up in a neat bundle in the end.

Also, did I mention that this book is very British? You guys know how I love that - it makes me feel at home. It's by an American author but regardless, she does a terrific job at showing the different places and mannerisms and the language. It might be a bit less posh British than Harry Potter and more... Northern, almost. It made me feel quite fuzzy and warm inside.

So anyway, easy 5/5, I really liked this but I see why some people haven't (it's that Harry Potter thing, they see plagiarism where I saw inspiration). I'm going to read Hän sanoi nimekseen Aleia (She said her name was Aleia) next, because my mum was really nice and bought it for me in Helsinki!!

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge, I put this in category 6: A book with many storytellers!

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