It’s been four years since Carry On by Rainbow Rowell was released into the world. I was surprised and delighted at the announcement to Wayward Son, the sequel. As you might imagine, I pre-ordered the hell out of this book so I could read it as soon as it hit shelves.
In case it’s not obvious, there will be spoilers abound for Wayward Son. If you’ve not finished the book, close this webpage immediately! It will still be here when you’re done.
Still with me? Alright, let’s get into it!
Let’s Talk About Simon/Baz
I could start with the plot points, but let’s be honest, we were all drawn to Carry On for the queer representation, so let’s just start with that.
Wayward Son starts off with boyfriends Simon and Baz in the midst of a crisis, and my heart dropped. The novel literally starts with the potential of a breakup, and I gotta say that was not what I was expecting.
It becomes apparent throughout the book that the problem isn’t their feelings for each other, the problem is these two boys skipped every single day of their communication class. If they spent half the time talking to each other compared to how much they worry about their relationship, there would be no problem.
Somehow Rainbow Rowell is able to build tension in their relationship while still giving us swoon worthy moments and even moments of complete joy. By the end of the novel I was both convinced their relationship would end horribly and sure they’d be together for the rest of eternity. SADLY, we don’t get to know the answer to that question, thanks to that cliffhanger ending.
For now, I’ll have to console myself with fanfiction.
The Chosen One, After the Story’s Over
Rainbow Rowell really plays with this concept and I love her for it. We never get to see what happens to the hero after the crisis is done and over with. Of course, the plot is over, so that makes sense, right? But these characters still have lives and have to live with the aftermath of their actions, and Rainbow Rowell crafts this beautifully.
As Wayward Son opens, Simon can’t drag himself off the couch. He’s become a shell of his former self, and he realizes it. He’s ashamed of it, and he doesn’t really understand his place in the world now that the story is done and he no longer has magic. Something that comes up time and time again is his own self-loathing because of what he’s become. It’s heartbreaking and difficult to read without overwhelming the entire story.
Simon is as broken as I’d expect him to be after everything he’s faced, but not beyond repair and not sapped of his personality. It’s still in there, just a bit buried, and more and more of his old self is teased out as the story plays out.
A Queer Jaunt Through the American Southwest
We’ve got some magic-users from Britain gallivanting around the American southwest for the queer magical road trip I didn’t know I needed in my life. She’s put characters you’d never expect in such a quintessential American setting. And God, it was a wild ride.
I actually took a vacation to this region of the USA right after the book released, making the trip even more fun as I crossed terrain Simon, Baz, and Penelope did throughout the novel. The descriptions of the region were so on point I nearly cried laughing.
Have you driven in southern Illinois? Because everything Baz had to say about it resonated with me so much.
I also adored what Rainbow Rowell did with magic in this part of the United States. The magic system she’s created is already very unique, especially once they arrived in America and needed to use American phrases to cast magic. But the fact that they found dead spots because of the complete lack of people was so clever, and the fact that Burning Man (Lad) was what saved them in the end was genius.
Also just the image of these three in their classic car driving around America, UGH.
So Many Vampires
I didn’t expect vampires to play such a big role in this book and I gotta say, I’m not mad about it.
There’s so much to unpack here, so bear with me. We have the classic vampire, the one that has been around for ages, and then we have the capitalist, Silicon Valley vampires. The fact that these inventive vampires even exist is such a fun play on capitalist culture that I can’t stand it.
Plus we get to see Baz interact with other vampires and discover just how little he knows about being one. I’d take a whole book just about that.
I’m not rating this book because to me, it was perfect. I’m sure if I sat down and used my literary criticism skills from college, I could find flaws, but I don’t need to. This book was fun, silly, full of heart with a plot that continued to compel.
And another book is coming. I can’t wait.
What did you guys think? Let me know in the comments!
Looking for more books like Carry On and Wayward Son? I’m currently querying my novel FanFact, the story of a fangirl who finds herself in the world of her favorite book series right before the final book is published. Read more about it.