ELEANOR & PARK remains in my top 10 favorites of all time. I'd heard a lot about FANGIRL and it did not disappoint.
At the time I listened to the FANGIRL audiobook, CARRY ON was still months away from release, but I quickly realized it would be about the wildly popular book within the book—the one the main character Cath, well, fangirls over. So that was in the back of my mind the whole way through. By the end, I couldn't wait for a deeper look into the Simon/Baz story.
FANGIRL is the story of Cath, a Nebraska teenager heading off to college with her twin, Wren. Both girls are huge fans of the SIMON SNOW book series, a Harry Potter-meets-Twilight literary phenom that was instrumental in getting the girls through some tough childhood years. They'd dressed up in costume for premiere parties, hung out in online forums with other fans, and knew every plot thread backwards and forwards.
Although now Wren has sort of outgrown SIMON SNOW, it's still a big part of Cath's life. An aspiring writer herself, she authors SIMON SNOW fan fiction and posts it online. Her following is so big, Cath has become a celebrity herself within the fandom. But now she's at college, out of her comfort zone with a roommate that (for the first time in her life) is not her twin sister, and a new circle of friends.
FANGIRL gives us snippets of the SIMON SNOW series (the actual published one Cath emulates) as well as Cath's take on how the series will end in the upcoming final book (yet to be published). All this is woven with Cath's own story of finding herself, growing up, moving on and, just maybe, falling in love for the first time.
Carry On - The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters.
After writing FANGIRL, author Rainbow Rowell wanted to explore the ending of Simon Snow's story herself, and how she would wrap up the series—writing not as Cath or fictional author Gemma T. Leslie. The result is CARRY ON which takes place in Leslie's world. It's Simon and his vampire roommate Baz's last year at Watford School of Magic. Simon just might be the Chosen One, prophesied to be the most powerful Mage ever, and destined to save the world from the evil that is the Insidious Humdrum—which just happens to look exactly like a young Simon.
If so, Simon is the worst Chosen One ever. He can't control his magic even after years of studying the magical arts. The magical world is moving toward a civil war and Simon seems caught in the middle. Not sure about anything in his life, including the headmaster who Simon worships, the only thing Simon knows for certain is that this is his last year at a school that means everything to him. And something very strange is going on between him and his arch enemy/roommate Baz.
They've spent all these years at odds, with Baz trying to kill him most of the time, but when a visit from beyond the grave sets them on a quest together, the boys have to confront their true feelings.
Part love story, part ghost story, part mystery, all epic, CARRY ON is ideal for the reader who grew up on Harry Potter, graduated to Twilight, and is now a fan of THE MAGICIANS (Lev Grossman). You don't have to have read FANGIRL to enjoy CARRY ON, but for me, it was the deep dive into the magical world I'd wanted. Highly recommended.