Everyone has their favorite authors. Or at least, most people do.
In the past, I remember hesitating when people ask me who mine is. In class a professor would go around the room and ask and I’d find myself frantically searching for someone in my mind. Most often I just settled with Rowling. I got a scathing look or two, but to be honest I didn’t know what else to say. Truth be told, I feel like in order to name someone as your favorite author you need to have read more than one book by that person. And I skip around enough that I don’t usually return to the same person twice, not since I was a kid at least.
However, after this past year I have an answer. Still not what I’d love to give sitting in an English class, but I nonetheless have fallen head over heels for Rainbow Rowell’s writing.
Anyone following my blog probably already has heard me rave about Fangirl, and maybe Eleanor and Park as well. Now, as an English major I cannot sit here and say “oh she’s the most fantastic writer on the face of the planet, and her prose are just fantastic!” because it wouldn’t be the least bit true. But I can say I love her stories, and that her characters never fail to connect with me, and that I have always enjoyed popping open one of her easy to read books after a long period of boring or challenging classics.
So, it came as no surprise that when Rowell announced she was writing a companion book to Fangirl, I definitely had a bit of a well…fangirl moment.
In Fangirl Rowell creates a fictional fantasy series. I know that sounds redundant but it is. If you try to find Simon Snow and the Mage’s Heir on Goodreads or at your library it won’t be there. Nor will any Google searches of Gemma T. Leslie get you anywhere. Essentially instead of picking an actual fandom, Rowell created her own…or perhaps better stated she parodied one of the most famous. In Carry On, Rowell explores the fictional fictional world she created by telling her own version of Simon Snow’s story.
Simon has been having a rough year. He just returned to Watford School of Magicks after a long summer. He’s still trying to figure out how to deal with the Insidious Humdrum, a strange being who is stealing magic from his world and happens to look just like his eleven year old self. To make matters worse, he and his girlfriend have just broken things off, and his nemesis and roommate Baz is missing. Simon is thoroughly convinced Baz is just trying to mess with him, but with questions about the Humdrum weighing on him and plenty of classes, he doesn’t have much time to think about it. That is until a ghostly visitor appears with a quest that will alter his final year at Watford.
While I initially started this book thinking “ooh a sort of take off on Harry Potter how delightful!” I quickly found that this story is really its own. Sure, a reference to the Normals or to Ebb the goatherd who’s never left Watford since graduating or to Simon’s status as Chosen One due to a prophecy might cause a few chuckles. But the story quickly diverges into its own set of adventures and questions.
I would again by no means classify Carry On as complex, but it’s enjoyable. I loved the variety of characters and thought it was particularly inspiring how Rowell creates magic based entirely on the words you choose. As a writer I cannot help but love the thought that words have power and that we give them power by how we use them. Words are a kind of magic whether we’re mages like Simon or simply Normal, there’s no denying that what comes on a page or out of our mouths can change the world.
I’d definitely advise Fangirl lovers to pick this one up if you liked the excerpts of Leslie and Cath’s writing. It was a bit different from Rowell’s other stories, though as I think most of the summaries say it’s every bit as romantic and heartwarming.
Who is your favorite author or at least an author you love? Have you ever felt embarrassed about your taste in reading? Do you think words have power? There’s a few to start with but feel free to add your own questions or comments.