By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
Rainbow Rowell's stellar writing makes her books auto-buys for me, though her stories often leave me unsatisfied or disappointed in some way. This is the worst of the lot so far, and honestly, I probably should have known better. I read Fangirl (and enjoyed it, except I was disappointed by the too-hasty ending), but I remember being a little bored by the excerpts from the Simon Snow fan fiction (Simon Snow is a British orphan who gets admitted to a boarding school for magic kids when he's 11. Sound familiar?) that the protagonist in Fangirl, Cath, wrote so feverishly.
Carry On is Rainbow Rowell's attempt to give Simon and his roommate, Baz, the story they didn't get in Fangirl, having been only a subplot in that book. One needn't read Fangirl first; frankly, having read Fangirl didn't keep me from feeling lost here. The main problem with Carry On is that it's like very like the Harry Potter series, but only the final book. Like Harry Potter, the premise is that Simon and friends have been at school for years, having adventures and quests each year, but rather than writing all of these stories, Rowell only writes the last year, and all of the backstory, all of the character development, all of the buildup to the final confrontation, is summarized in clunky infodumps throughout the narrative. It doesn't work. I didn't know the characters well enough to root for them or care about them, and the main characters, especially Baz and Angela, I flat-out didn't like.
As for the romance(show spoiler)
, I wasn't feeling it. It's not the gay aspect (I'm bisexual, married to a woman, so generally I'm thrilled that teen literature deals more openly with GLBT themes and issues than when I was a kid); it's that I didn't feel invested in the characters, and their romance came on so suddenly and with so little introspection or development, it just didn't resonate with me.