I’ve been super busy these last few weeks. Between writing these letters, reading, and keeping up with the other responsibilities in my life, I am sort of in over my head. I know what you would say — take a step back. Focus on what is truly important at this moment. So that is what I am trying to do.
I can see the finish line with this book and now as I reflect on my time reading, I feel bittersweet about the whole experience. Carry On has been a book of extremes for me. Whether it be extreme dislike, extreme love, or extreme I don’t give a shit about what I am reading right now, it was always an extreme.
Now I am nearing the very end, and I must say that for once I don’t know what the think. On one side of the coin, I’m feeling that the adrenaline of the ending was worth while and that it gave us a unique take on the heroes journey, but on the other side of the coin I’m feeling rushed and very dissatisfied with how we are leaving this story and the treatment of certain plot points feels rushed and underappreciated. It seems that the things we were supposed to view as worthy of our time via the author (i.e. character’s with their own POV chapters, plot points repeated over and over) don’t feel justified. Some feel wasted and pointless.
Basically, here is what the end amounts to. Ebb and the Mage have a battle. Ebb is super powerful. All of our kid characters are there but Agatha runs away, Penelope and Baz are running to the chapel where all the action is happening (side note, how is there a chapel at Watford?), and Simon is flying once again.
I think it is pretty expected at this point that the Mage be a jerk. That is one plot point that has been building up. It is the fall of the great mentor who only wants power. He wanted to use Simon’s power but since he isn’t there, Ebb will do. He plans to sacrifice Ebb for the greater good of the world (sound familiar?).
Before stabbing her, he reflects that the power in Ebb is wasted. Ouch…to both the comment and stabbing.
And here is my issue…while I care that the Mage just killed an innocent person, I don’t care about Ebb as a character. This book never gave us enough reason to care. There was very little time spent with her on the page and when the reader did see her, she was made out to be disgusting and sad. Again, I just don’t care.
When Simon arrives to find his mentor over Ebb’s dead body unwilling to save her, he begins to question everything he believed (though not to the extent he probably should be questioning. Again, nothing in the narration has hinted that Simon’s loyalty to the Mage has wavered. He defends him 24/7). Then the Mage is all, don’t trust Baz, Simon. He is the enemy. The Mage says something about the greater good, which made me shout DUMBLEDORE while I was reading. Then he demands Simon give him his power when all of a sudden the Humdrum shows up and out of instinct, Simon gives his power to the Humdrum.
This is quite possibly the best moment in the entire novel. The build up to this moment has been very well paced and organic. The characters learned enough so that Simon could make this choice. It just makes sense.
What shocked me was when Simon kills the Mage on accident. That is brutal! I don’t think the book quite understands the weight of that mistake. This is a man Simon looked up to for most of his life and he just killed him! That would scar any person for life!
Then we get a Lucy chapter and it is good but also bad. Good because we actually get information, like about how she is Simon’s mother (making the Mage his father, as predicted), and how Snow was meant to be his middle name, and Lucy died after the birth, and she called him her rose bud boy. Bad because, who the eff is she talking to? This is our final Lucy chapter. Since I am finished this book, I can tell you right here and right now that Simon does not mention Lucy once past this point. He never sees her, and she never visits him. So who is she talking to and why are we even getting this information? This story-line could be taken out of the book and not change a single thing. LITERALLY. And I kind of hate to say that because I actually think this could have been a strong point had it been executed properly.
We end with Penelope realizing Baz and Simon are a couple. Again, not given the weight that it should have. Like, this should be chapters worth of content and not because they are gay but because they have been enemies for so long and things were not on the best of terms last time the boys were together.
I have to compare Simon’s fate to Harry Potter’s. Harry’s survival at the end of Deathly Hallows is a Christ moment and I love it so damn much! But I think there is room for critique to say that this choice to allow Harry to survive was a cop-out of any real consequence. Sure side characters died but after an entire series of a character naturally / passively being good at life despite his hardships, once again our hero passively saves the day. I think a lot can be said toward Simon’s choice to give his magic to the Humdrum and therefore destroy not only the enemy, but wiping away his own magic entirely. That is a real consequence. It is not a happy ending. But it is a strong and good ending. Again, I love Harry Potter and so I don’t necessarily think this one ups that series but I think it gives us a different perspective and I like it very much.
Now all that is left is the epilogue and we will finally be done with this book!
Until next time, friend. Danielle.