Carry On and Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

Do you ever have one of those books where you totally love it and you have no idea why?  When your friends ask you for a recommendation and you want to tell them about it, but you sort of stutter and are like, “yeah it’s amazing” but can’t follow up with any explanation?

That’s how I feel about Carry On and Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell. I loved them!  But ask me why and you’ll get the following explanation (which I gave very inarticulately to Mr. Librarian):

“It’s so good!”

“Tell me about it.”

“Well, the plot is very interesting but the description of the book is very meta.”


“Yes, meta.  See Rainbow Rowell wrote this other book, Fangirl.  Fangirl is a cute book about a girl who writes fanfiction about this fictional book series. The series follows Simon Snow – the most powerful magician of his generation – and his adventures at his school for magic.  Written by the fictitious Gemma T. Leslie, Simon Snow and his group of friends have many magical adventures and the main character of Fangirl writes fanfiction about them.”

“Sounds a lot like Harry Potter.”

“No.  Not Harry Potter. Simon Snow! 

“Sounds like Harry Potter. But it’s not. Got it.”

Now, after Rowell wrote Fangirl, and with it, created the Simon Snow series, it seemed that she – Rainbow Rowell – really loved the fake series so much that she decided to write their – Simon Snow’s – story.  Thus, Carry On was published. Make sense?”

“No.  Yes. Maybe. You’re sort of making sense.  But I’m still confused. So, what’s Carry On about?”

“So, Carry On follows Simon Snow through his last year at his magical school…”

“Not Hogwarts?  Is it Pigpimple then?”

“Heh.  No. The school is called Watford.”


“Well.  At Watford, Simon has a best friend, Penny – basically the smartest girl in the grade – helping him try to defeat his arch-foe, the… wait for it…. Insidious Humdrum.”

“So.  Penny is Hermione and the Insidious Humdrum <cue eerie woo noises here> is Voldemort?”

“No.  It’s different.  And Simon has an enemy at school – his roommate Baz – who is suspected to be a vampire.  And a girlfriend named Agatha.”

“Vampires.  Heh.”

“Yeah, well at the beginning of the book, Simon and Penny are somewhat recovered from the Humdrum’s attack on them at the end of the previous school year but when they return to Hogwarts… I mean Pigpimple… I mean Watford…”


“…Baz is missing.  OK. Important plot point.  Baz is missing and that starts off the whole adventure for Simon’s final year at WATFORD.  There’s a lot about magic being wonky, and dead spots where magicians can’t even use magic.  Eventually Baz returns and he and Simon reluctantly work together to solve several mysteries and… NO SPOILERS!”

“But, didn’t you say there was a second book?”

“OK, well, um… I guess since we’ve read enough books and watched enough movies that include the “chosen one” trope, I can share *certain* aspects of the end of the book.  But, only enough that the second book will make sense.”


“So the end of the book is all about Simon giving up his power to save magic-kind.  Also, he and Baz fall in love and become a thing and it is THE MOST ADORABLE THING EVER! I heart Snowbaz! Foreva!”

“Well there goes my need to read it…”

“NO!!!  You should still read it!  IT’S SO GOOD!”

“Ok, ok.  I believe you.  Maybe I’ll read it.”

<A great concession from Mr. Librarian because even though I know what I’m talking about, Mr. Librarian likes biographies and sci-fi.  This would take him a bit out of his comfort zone.>

“Ok, so Wayward Son starts about a year after the end of Carry On and well, Simon Snow is a bit depressed.  He was used to being <eerie woo voice again> The Chosen One, and now he doesn’t have any magic.  His relationship with Baz is suffering and everyone just seems to be walking on eggshells around each other.  Until, Penny proposes a road trip!”

“A road trip?  Where?”

“A road trip across… AMERICA!  Apparently Penny and Simon had decided to do this at some point during their friendship and Penny decided that they should do it!  It helps that Agatha (Simon’s now ex-girlfriend) had relocated herself to San Diego to get as far away from magic as possible. But, Agatha is kinda, well, struggling too.  So Penny, Simon, and Baz fly into Chicago (to see Penny’s American boyfriend who lives there) and then do a road trip to San Diego to check up on Agatha.”

“Shoot.  Now that song is stuck in my head.  Was it supposed to be like that?”

“Like what?”

“The titles and the songs?  <singing voice> Carry on, my wayward so-o-o-oon.”

“No.  Carry On was a quote from a Queen song.  Not the Kansas song. Stick with me here.”

“And now thanks for getting it stuck in my head.”

“Anyways, they have a bunch of adventures, including a vampire fight at a Renaissance Faire in Omaha, a run-in with a dragon near Denver, a conversation with a water spirit at the Hoover Dam, and a showdown in the deserts of California.”

“Sounds like an exciting road trip.  <Still singing Wayward Son under his breath>

“It is!  And there’s going to be a THIRD BOOK!  The title is based on the Queen song… oh shoot which one was it?  It’s like ‘Any way you….’

“Oh, you mean Journey.  <singing> Any way you want it…”

“NO!  It’s from the Queen song – Bohemian Rhapsody.  I can’t remember. But I really want it and I cannot wait.”

“Well, when does it come out?  Want to preorder it?”

“She hasn’t finished writing it yet. But I CANNOT WAIT.  Oh yeah, Any Way The Wind Blows! That’s the title! I can’t wait to read it!!!”

End Scene 


While not a verbatim recapture of our conversation, I promise that this was not too far off.  I should record myself next time. You know, for posterity.

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