And this is Why I Don’t Like Harco: Carry on by Rainbow Rowell

Simon Snow is the worst chosen one who’s ever been chosen.

That’s what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he’s probably right.

Half the time, Simon can’t even make his wand work, and the other half, he sets something on fire. His mentor’s avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there’s a magic-eating monster running around wearing Simon’s face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here—it’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters.

Source: GoodReads

When I found out about Carry On, I figured it would be either epic or not so epic.  It fell in the latter category for me.

I’ve never really have been a Rainbow Rowell fan girl.  I’ve only read Fangirl and a short story by her.  And while I liked Fangirl enough, the short story was lacking.

Then there’s also the fact that I sort of skimmed all the Simon Snow fan fiction because Simon and Baz reminded me of Harco (Harry and Draco) and I’m not a fan of Harco.

I was hoping though, that with further development I could love Simon and Baz, that they would not have the same toxicity of Harco….but…I didn’t like the book and it wasn’t because of the relationship.  Though, I didn’t sense any chemistry between either Simon and Baz (and I was about 200 pages in before I gave up).

What really threw me off from this book was how vague it was.

Objectively, the construction isn’t halfway bad.  It’s readable.  And that’s actually a pretty decent accomplishment in YA-read a Colleen Houck book and then tell me that it’s readable and then get back to me.  Although, the multiple POV changes are grating after awhile, especially since they’re so random and some of the chapters are obscenely short.

That vague feeling was what bothered me about the whole experience.  I think the world building was intentionally vague, in part, so that it couldn’t outright rip off Harry Potter-but who are we kidding we know it was basically the substitute of Harry Potter in Fangirl Rowell basically out right says it.  But instead of sort of parodying Potter fics in the best of ways, it’s one of those fics I’d automatically x-nay because it’s just too random.

Like I said, the summary and cover seem to indicate that Baz and Simon are going to be a thing, but Baz doesn’t even make an appearance until a good quarter of the book (150) and Simon seems too focus on his girlfriend to even notice him-save to whine about how he cheated with said girlfriend.

I guess one could make the argument that Rowell is showing the randomness of some fandom ships-because let’s face it in fandom you see it all.  There are Giant Squid fics out there, people.  But I really don’t think that’s what she was intending.  To me, it was almost as if she wanted us to forget that Carry On was a fan fic written by Cath and not the cannon Simon Snow.

I think that might’ve been what killed the story.

If the book would’ve sort of gone all out there in parody mode with it’s tropes it might’ve been more enjoyable to me.  Instead, it read very, very, bland with a plot that seemed to want to hide itself.

Which is fine, perfectly fine if you’re not trying to make a parody of Harry Potter.

The reason Harry Potter works so well is that it’s plots are so absorbing as well as the characters.  I couldn’t get absorbed in either aspect here.  I wanted to love Simon and Baz, and was thinking hey maybe when Baz gets involved into this mess it will work better but….

Nope.

Nope.

Nope.

In fact, the chemistry between the two was so lacking it made me sad. Simon’s relationship with Agatha broke up ridiculously fast.  I didn’t get why they were a couple either, but it really reminded me of a fan fic where the cannon pairing it broken up fast to force another couple together.

And that couple was Simon and Baz.

Honestly, out of the amount of interaction the characters were having if anyone should’ve been a couple it should’ve been Simon and Penny…but….no.

Clearly in the friend zone like Hermione.  ANd of course, that’s not the couple I was rooting for.  I was rooting for Simon and Baz, but more or less because of the blurb and the cover.  When together, they weren’t that magical.  In fact, they were sort of forced together like Harco is often forced together.

And that dear readers, is not a good thing.

Overall Rating: It’s a DNF,  I’m giving it the higher ranking of DNF (two stars on GoodReads) because the structure was fairly decent and for the most part it was readable.  But it really didn’t work for me.

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Fan Girl by Rainbow Rowell: Nostalgia for the Former Fan Girl in You

Confession Time: I used to spend a lot of time on fanfiction.net.  I wrote in a lot of different fandoms and I felt like I did develop as a writer there.  The pressure of getting chapters out every week, trying to keep characters that aren’t yours in character, and trying to write a plot that doesn’t regurgitate cannon is a lot of work.  But I’ve sort of moved on until this book….

Well, not exactly.  I’m still not active in fandom right now.  But this book did make me open up one of my old fanfiction stories and start rewriting  it much to my disdain.  And, oh yeah, I had a cringe moment or two.

So this must mean this book is pretty good, right?  Well, yes and no.

I think probably the thing that made it appealing to me and most people is that it has sort of a nostalgia element to it.

The whole fanfiction and college life elements were handled realistically.  Usually, in New Adult books it’s party all the time no school at all.  Here, there’s actually a real balance between these two elements.  While Cath’s college experience wasn’t identical to mine, I could actually relate to it and it was realistic. Same as her fan fiction habit.

Except I could really have done with about half of the fan fic scenes, just saying.

I think that was one of the biggest things that bothered me the fan fiction itself.  I’d say page count wise it makes up a good fifth to a fourth of the book.  The writing, obviously, is very different from the fan fic versus the rest of the narrative.

I really prefer the narrative, fyi.

The fan fic tone reminded me heavily of Cassandra Clare’s fanfics.  The part about the t-shirts reminded me of….never mind.  At times I was almost wondering if fan girl was slightly mocking them (a girl can hope, huh?).  That being said if you know how I feel about Cassandra Clare one liners than you should know how I feel about this part of the book.

Yeah, I didn’t like it.  Even though I totally knew what Rowell was trying to do.  It just didn’t work for me.

Did I like what she was trying to do though: yes.

I felt like I was let in on little jokes.  The whole Simon/Baz ship was a play on the multipleHarry/Draco fan fics you see on ffnet which I never understand because totally abusive relationship.  Though it’s not the most disturbing relationship I’ve seen on ffnet-I think that goes toSnape/Harry or The Giant Squid/Harry.

And yes, both of those exist.

Being in on a joke is always nice.  So I’ll give props to that part of the fan fic.

I sort of feel similar to about Cath as I do about the fan fics in this book.  In theory I should like her she’s a neurotic introvert like yours truly, but….

Yeah there’s always a but.

And the but here is pretty big.  Cath borderlines on having some serious issues which would be fine if they were addressed.  I would’ve liked to see her see a shrink or at the very least have someone sort of put things in perspective for her.  But most of the PSA’s we get on mental illness and college flipouts come from her dad and her sister.

And yeah, they had their issues but Cath wasn’t a saint either.

There were times that I just wanted to strangle her and say grow up already.

Best example: you don’t turn in your fanfiction to your fiction professor.  God knows if I would’ve done that, Professor R would’ve so reported me for plagiarism so fast my head would’ve been spinning.  Plus, creative writing classes usually want literary style of pieces (i.e. stories about psychotic ex mistresses, fucked up dentists, and killer omelets not your seven hundred page fan fic….but I digress).

This was just one of the big I want to hurt Cath moments in the book.

It’s not that she was a bad character it was just I had to take breaks from reading this because Cath could easily grate on my nerves, but in a different way than most NA/YA protagonists do.

Things I really liked about this one was that it veered from the NA formula some.  Especially in the romance department.  I really did like Levi.

He actually felt like a real guy.  Well, as real as a guy is going to get on paper.  Not only was he physically realistic looking (a.k.a. not a Greek god attending Sweet Valley High or wherever), but he had quirks that weren’t abusive.  Though I did wonder what he saw in Cath at times…

But that’s more about her than him.I also loved the roommate character.  She’s almost a lot like my sophomore roommate was like personality wise and was just a fun character.The plot itself wasn’t great, but at least there was one.  And it was a plot that wasn’t primary focused on the romance or some deep dark secret keeping the characters from having a romance.

Overall, I would recommend this book as a NA book.  As I said before, it’s probably the best NA book I read.  But as a book in general, it’s slightly above average.  While there were some parts of the book I loved, there were lots of parts that had me rolling my eyes.  And I really have to wonder if I hadn’t been a part of the fanfiction subculture if I would’ve liked it as much.

Seven out of ten fanfics.  I’d probably favorite this one and review it, but not regularly.