Carry On is a Young Adult novel by Rainbow Rowell, a companion to her novel Fangirl. It's not Gemma T. Leslie's eighth Simon Snow book, and it's not exactly Cath's Carry On, Simon. It's another "fanfiction" rendition of the eighth Simon Snow book, written in the way that Rainbow Rowell would have penned such a tale.note And as Cath told us, nigh all Simon Snow fanfic is Simon/Baz Slash Fic.
The Simon Snow series is an expy of the Harry Potter series, with a parentless Chosen One wizard who attends a British Wizarding School. But while in framework they parallel, that breaks down the further you go. While the characters might fit their expy counterparts in their initial roles—Simon is Harry, Baz is Draco, Penny is both Ron and Hermione, the Mage is Dumbledore—their personalities are rather different, and by the end their roles have changed substantially.
What makes Carry On interesting is that it is presented as fanfic of a series that doesn't exist—but it still plays off the tropes of that series (and sometimes disparages on them!). For example, multiple characters say how stupid the name "the Insidious Humdrum" is, and Agatha (who's implied to be something of a Satellite Love Interest in the original) rejects her role in the story.
In 2018, Rowell announced on social media that she was writing a sequel called Wayward Son, which has a current release date of September 23rd, 2019.
Tropes for this book include:
- Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The premise and the style of the book are that of fanfic, but unlike with real fanfic, readers don't come to the story already having read the Simon Snow books, since they don't actually exist. This means than some things have to be treated differently than they would in real fanfic.
- In real fanfic, you can expect readers to know the premise of the story, setting, background, characters, and so on. But here they don't, so the first couple chapters are Infodumps dedicated to setting the stage.
- With real Slash Fic, people are already familiar with the characters and their relationship—and you can usually assume that if someone's choosing reading a Slash Fic for a certain couple, they already ship the pairing in question. In Carry On, the relationship begins much later than it usually would in real Slash Fic. Before they get together, there has to be time spend developing Simon and Baz as characters, as well as their pre-ship relationship—for them getting together to have any value, the readers must first be convinced to ship them.
- Accidental Murder: Penelope and Simon accidentally kill the Mage, though in Simon's defense the Mage grabbed him while he was merging with the Humdrum and received a psychic backlash.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Agatha has a kind-of-crush on Baz for this reason.
- Alliterative Family: Martin and Mitali got together and had Premal, Penelope, Pacey, Priya, and Pip.
- All Therapists Are Muggles:
- Baz's stepmom says he's used to be discreet about his condition so he could probably see a muggle therapist. Baz rejects this idea immediately.
- The ending averts this: Simon has skype therapy sessions with one of the few magickal psychologists in the world, and says they really help. Rainbow Rowell apparently got very fed up with the idea that Chosen Ones can't get PTSD treatment.
- Ambiguously Bi/If It's You, It's Okay: Simon's not sure he's gay, and it seems that he did really like Agatha when they first got together, but it's not totally clear.
- Anti-Magic: The Humdrum itself acts as a living embodiment of this, its very presence creating dead spots in the world where magic no longer exists. It is revealed that it is not the cause of magic dying out, just the personification of it.
- Badass Mustache: Zigzagged—the Mage has a morally ambiguous mustache. Simon thinks it's a Badass Mustache, though others disagree.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: The Mage wanted to fulfill the prophecy, but in doing so also accidentally created the Humdrum which desires magic.
- Big Bad: The Insidious Humdrum—though partly Deconstructed, and a tad Parodied.
- Big Damn Kiss: Simon plants one on Baz to stop him from committing suicide. The setting is appropriately dramatic—it's in the middle of a fire. Several more follow.
- Bittersweet Ending: The Humdrum is defeated, at the cost of Simon's magic and the Mage's life. With that said, he and Baz rent a flat together, and openly declare their love for each other.
- Blessed with Suck: Simon Snow, as The Chosen One, is gifted with a reserve of magic power unrivaled by any other magic-user. The only problem is is that he is unable to actually use it properly, with spells he tries to cast the traditional manner being ineffective and spells he manages to cast being unpredictable or overpowered, as well as suffering severe Power Incontinence when stressed. We later find out that it is much more effective not as an ability in it of itself, but an effective means to boosting other people's magic, and even then Baz is the only one able to handle any of it without suffering excruciating pain. It is also revealed that his overpowered magic is also damaging to the atmosphere of magic, each one of his spells creating the dead-spots supposedly caused by the Humdrum.
- Blunt "Yes": Simon delivers a great one to Baz.Simon: I thought you'd be happy that I came back.
Baz: [snears] Why? So we can tumble around and kiss and pretend to be happy boyfriends?
Simon: [Shakes his head, then rolls his eyes mightily] Yeah I guess so. Yes. Let's do that, okay?
- Broken Pedestal: Agatha and Simon for the Mage by the end of the book.
- Brought Down to Normal: Simon after sacrificing his magic to defeat the Humdrum, which leaves him traumatized.
- The Chooser of The One: The Mage used the various prophecies about the Chosen One to create a magic ritual used to imbue Simon with his powers prenatal.
- The Chosen One: Simon's birth and quest to save the World of Mages has been foretold by every oracle. Subverted in that Simon is actually the reason the Insidious Humdrum exists, and thus the cause of one of the greatest threats to the World of Mages. Double Subverted when Simon gives his magic back to the Humdrum, thus defeating it. He then accidentally kills The Mage, which ends the war between The Mage and The Old Families, and leads to governmental reform among the magicians in The Coven.
- Cool Aunt: Aunt Fiona for Baz.
- Create Your Own Hero/Villain: In an effort to bring about the fabled Chosen One to bring change to the magical community, the Mage used ritual magic to embue his son with unrivaled magic power, that boy being Simon. As a result, this also created the Insidious Humdrum, being an equal-opposite reaction to Simon's overwhelming power.
- Dark Is Not Evil: The vampires, notably Baz and Nicodemus.
- Deal with the Devil: The Mage made one with the vampires that attacked the school and killed Baz's mother. That was the only way they could have accessed the grounds.
- Death by Childbirth: This is implied with the fate of Lucy Salisbury, the girlfriend of The Mage and the mother of Simon. She had magical complications from her boyfriends interference with her pregnancy, and she died shortly after Simon was born.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: It turns out "Snow" was meant to be a ridiculous middle name.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Baz stopped trying to kill Simon after a voice-stealing spell hit Innocent Bystander Phillipa and forced her to leave Watford indefinitely.
- Nicodemus explicitly tells Baz that he didn't lead the attack that killed Baz's mother because his sister worked at the school.
- Exact Words: Ebb has been forbidden from talking to her brother Nicodemus, who went willingly to the vampires. That doesn't stop her from talking to the air when he is nearby, rambling about everything from goats to politics.
- Fantastic Racism: Old-school magicians are notoriously classist against potential magic users that lack the bloodlines or physical preferences. Penelope's father—a magical genius—was nearly denied on the grounds of having a lisp.
- Fantastic Nature Reserve: Watford, like Hogwarts, is a Wizarding School with various magical creatures living in the grounds but the snow devils are actually specified to be a protected magical species. It's illegal to attack them even after they throw snowballs at you.
- Half-Identical Twins: Ebb and Nicodemus are described as looking like male/female versions of the same person.
- Happily Ever After:
- It's implied that in the original Simon Snow books, Agatha is just there to be Simon's happy ending. Here Agatha acknowledges and refuses her role as such, Defying the trope.Simon: You're my future!
Agatha: Am I supposed to want that?
Simon: I want it.
Agatha: You just want a happy ending.
Simon: Merlin, Agatha, don't you?
Agatha: No! I don't! I want to be someone's right now, Simon, not their happily ever after. I don't want to be the prize at the end. The thing you get if you beat all the bosses.
- Simon and Baz are heading this way by the end of the book.
- It's implied that in the original Simon Snow books, Agatha is just there to be Simon's happy ending. Here Agatha acknowledges and refuses her role as such, Defying the trope.
- Heroic Sacrifice:
- Ebb fights the Mage long enough for Agatha to run for it and not die. The Mage ends up killing Ebb to forcibly take her magic, as his spell requires.
- Simon gives up his magic so as to stop the Humdrum, letting it inside of him.
- Homage: To Harry Potter and fanfiction everywhere.
- Hypocrisy Nod:
- Simon lightly chides Penelope for complaining about her pixie roommate when she's chided him for doing the same about his roommate Baz.
- Penny points out that that while "Trixie the pixie" is silly, people aren't held the the same standard and are allowed to have names that rhyme with their species.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Agatha doesn't care all that much about magic and prefers her Normal friends and her life and hobbies outside of Watford. It doesn't help that by dating Simon she feels like a side character next to much more powerful mages like Penelope and Baz.
- A Lizard Named "Liz": Penny's roommate Trixie is a pixie. Lampshaded by Baz:Baz: Imagine you're a pixie. I know it's distasteful, but imagine—you're a pixie, and you have a daughter, and you name her Trixie. Trixie the pixie. [ ] It's like being a fairy named Mary.
Simon: Or a vampire named Gampire.
Baz: Gampire isn't even a proper name, Snow. You're terrible at this game.
Penelope: In Trixie's defence, the pixies probably don't go around calling themselves "pixies." I mean, you could be a human named Newman or a boy named Roy, and no one would think twice.
- Love Triangle: As fanfiction of a series that doesn't actually exist, this trope gets both Inverted and Subverted in strange ways. It's implied that in the original Simon Snow books, there's a Betty and Veronica love triangle with Simon/Agatha/Baz: Simon, Agatha's nice Chosen One boyfriend of several years, is her Betty, while Baz, the dark vampire, is her Veronica. He sometimes flirted with Agatha, and she sometimes played along. In this "fanfic" though, while Agatha thinks that love triangle is still going, the trope is quickly squashed. It's revealed Baz never actually liked Agatha, and was just flirting with her to troll Simon—who he's actually in love with. And Simon doesn't really like Agatha that much anymore either. The closest thing to a real love triangle here has Simon as Archie, with Agatha as Betty, and Baz still as Veronica, but calling that situation a true love triangle is quite a stretch, because Simon isn't interested in both of them at the same time.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: The Mage is Simon's biological father, and the one who made him into a magical tyke-bomb. Simon never learns this through the course of the novel.
- The Magic Goes Away: Dead-spots in the magic atmosphere - areas where all magic is sucked out of an ecosystem - began appearing in different parts of the world, with all sources linked to a malignant entity known as the Insidious Humdrum. It is later revealed that it is Simon's unnaturally high reserve of magic power that creates both these dead-spots and the Humdrum, his overpowered spells overtaxing the environment like green-house gases.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Parodied Trope with Penny's roommate Trixie. She's literally a pixie, and she's always bringing her girlfriend over to their room. A Manic Pixie Dream Girl's eccentricities might be charming when she fancies you, but they're annoying otherwise.
- Meaningful Echo: "My rosebud boy."
- Morality Pet: Ebb for Nicodemus. On finding her arrested he allies with Baz and Penelope to save her from the Mage.
- Never Live It Down: Baz's aunt is never going to let him forget that he got kidnapped by numpties.
- No Sympathy: Agatha had none for her roommate Phillipa losing her voice, only remarking on how Phillipa was jealous of her for dating Simon.
- Oblivious to Love: Simon thinks Baz hates him for many years. Although to be fair, Baz is a Kuudere.
- Official Couple/Fan-Preferred Couple: In-universe. Simon and Baz are a weird Zigzagged example, in that they're the Official Couple of the book published about them, but they're framed as a Fan-Preferred Couple of the fictional series the real-world published book is supposed to be based on. The real-world fandom absolutely adores them. It seems that presenting your Official Couple as a Fan-Preferred Couple really gets the fans on board the ship.
- Odd Friendship: Penelope and Baz have more in common than they thought, and become friends surprisingly easily.
- Overly Long Name: Tyrannus Basilton Grimm-Pitch. You can tell why he goes by Baz.
- Posthumous Character: Natasha Grimm-Pitch.
- Power Incontinence: Simon suffers from it, especially when he loses his temper.
- Power of the Void: It is revealed that the Insidious Humdrum is the embodiment of the absence of magic caused by Simon's powers, and is able to imbue the existence (or rather inexistence) of that absence into magical creatures, turning them rabid.
- Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: Penny has this attitude a little, and it annoys Agatha.Penny: Why do the gingerbread girls have to wear pink?
Agatha: Why should the gingerbread girls feel like they shouldn't wear pink? I like pink.
Penny: Only because you've been conditioned to like it by Barbies and gendered Lego.
Agatha: Lay off, Penny. I've never played with Lego.
- Red Herring: When the ghost of Baz's mother tells Simon to find Nicodemus and avenge her, Baz and Simon assume that Nicodemus might have killed her or knows an ally who did. As it turns out, Nicodemus knows who the murderer is, but he would never attack the school.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Agatha at the end of the book, taking off to California, leaving her wand and magic behind.
- Shipper on Deck: Agatha's parents for Agatha and Simon. She doesn't have the heart to tell them that she broke up with Simon, and that she uninvited him for the holidays.
- Shoo the Dog: The Mage at the beginning of the school year tries to send Simon away, for his safety, from the Humdrum and the old-school wizards. Simon refuses to leave, however, and the Mage acquiesces after Simon nearly loses his temper.
- Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Baz is noted to be slightly taller than Simon (three inches), and he's certainly dark and snarky.
- Title Drop: Baz talking to his mum, near the end.Baz: But—I just wanted to tell you that I'm going to carry on. As I am.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Simon and his scones. It also seems like Baz really likes apples.
- True Companions: Penelope and Simon. She insists on this.
- Vampires Are Sex Gods: Zigzagged—it's specifically is noted that not all vampires are attractive, but Baz just happens to be good looking in a classically vampiric way. He got his widow's peak from his non-vampire dad.
- Villainous Crush: Baz for Simon.
- Wizarding School: Watford School of Magicks.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Mage, which many characters lampshade. He brought many reforms to Watford, getting rid of the Fantastic Racism and caste barriers, but he's also obsessed with a prophecy to the point where he forcibly creates The Chosen One, accidentally killing his girlfriend and causing the creation of the biggest threat to the magical world, suppresses dissidents (including the Pitches), orders the assassination of headmistress Natasha Grimm-Pitch which also leads to the vampirization of a four-year-old toddler, murders Ebb and almost kills Agatha.
- You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: When Baz calls Simon "Simon" rather than "Snow".