Carry On: 11/07/16
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is the companion piece to Fangirl which is an homage to the Harry Potter fandom and fan fiction.
Cath's abortive first year of college is filled in with lengthy passages of her fan fiction, Carry On, Simon, based on the promised final book in an eight book series. While I didn't like Cath's melodramatic fan fiction I was curious to see how the Simon and Bass story played out without Cath self destructing in college.
This is Simon and Baz's final year at the boarding school. Baz is missing and the ghost of Baz's mother has asked Simon to bring her murderer to justice. Baz's disappearance though is a convenient plot device to get Simon thinking about his roommate and nemesis as a person rather than the super villain he's destined to be.
Carry On takes a long time to get into gear. The first third of the book is divided up between multiple points of view beyond the two obvious ones: Simon and Baz. As with most multiple POV books, these extra first person points of view are unnecessary. They're filler. They're there just to build up dramatic tension.
Here's the thing. Everyone knows going into this book that Simon and Baz are going to end up together. There's no need draw things out. The stuttering at the beginning — the numerous short chapters from different points of view — all the worrying about what is yet to come is there to forestall the inevitable. This lurching first act feels like a tug of war between three personas: the original (but fictional) author, Gemma T. Leslie, the fictional fan-fiction author Cath, and finally, the real-world author, Rainbow Rowell.
In the Gemma T. Leslie series, the last book would have been titled Simon Snow and the Eighth Dance. Cath's epic long fan-fiction ending was titled Carry On, Simon. This book feels like a compromise between those two extremes, or a stalemate reached after a lengthy tug of war. By the end, the last hundred pages, give or take, though, reads like Rainbow Rowell getting out of both her characters' heads and just writing it the way she knows we all know it's going to turn out. Those are the best parts of the book.