I loved Fangirl. I grew up loving D/H fanfic. This sounded like a the perfect thing that I would absolutely love. I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it (I wouldn’t be giving it 4 stars If I didn’t), but I still had some real problems with this book. Mainly that was what seems to be Rainbow Rowell’s weakness. A strong plot.
When I walk into a fantasy, I have many expectations. It is one of those genres that I read so often that I come to want certain elements to hit. With a good fantasy, one of those things is the plot. I don’t have any expectations of the plot, but I do expect it to come together. For it to make sense. For it to build. The plot is what keeps a fantasy story focused and not just one big world and character exploration.
Carry On didn’t have a good grasp of that. It certainly did have a plot to the story. However it was a plot that was pushed to the background in favor of building the characters. Result was a beginning that dragged out longer than it should have and too many times where the characters were given too long of a leash. Sure, I felt like I knew these characters for a long time, but I also started to wonder how they got anything done. The plot just lingered in the background an after thought to tie the character moments together.
It was the characters that really shined. You got to know these characters in a way that made them feel rich. You believed them as people.
Let’s be honest though, this was the Baz show. I now understand why Rainbow said she’d love to write another book about Baz. I wish she would too because Baz was by far my favorite character of the bunch. There was something about his biting wit that just completely held me. Everything about Baz was just fantastic and I really don’t have words for how much I loved him as a character.
Simon on the other hand was a different story. Technically the book was always about him. However, even as I got to know him, I have to admit I didn’t like him for a long time. He felt tedious at times and I wanted him to go away. It wasn’t until later that I came to appreciate Simon. When we started to see Simon and Baz together I started to feel that sense that Simon was more than just an annoying kid. It just took Baz to bring out some of the other sides to Simon for me to really like him.
And that romance though. It was so sweet. So fitting for the characters. I wanted more. I needed more. I mean I know I can’t have it, but seriously the two worked so well together. Each had their strengths and they knew how to benefit the other.
The Mage was an interesting character. I didn’t trust him from the moment I saw him. There was something about him I didn’t like. I won’t say anything else about it, but it just didn’t feel right. That said he was a perfect example of how Rowell played with normal tropes in the genre. She did this so well over a number of elements. Not only did she flip the usual into something different, but she also feed into the standard tropes exagerrating them for comic effect. It’s something that could have really exploded badly if it wasn’t handled so skillfully. This playing with the tropes is actually one of the elements that made up for some of the things that lacked in the novel because it was just that good.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story and in particular the relationships between the characters.