Stick with me here. Because this can be a bit confusing. Carry On is fan fiction. The caveat is that the original work, the Simon Snow series, doesn’t actually exist.
We first meet Simon Snow in Fangirl. The main character of that book, Cath, writes about Simon Snow for a website. The SS series is almost complete, but before the last book is published, Cath is trying to crank out her version of the story. The real author of Fangirl and Carry On brilliantly creates the SS world in Fangirl, giving the readers a taste of the series (think Harry Potter but they are called mages rather than wizards). After that small taste, Carry On came out. We get the entire Cath version of what happens to Simon Snow. I promise it all makes sense. You can really read Carry On by itself without reading Fangirl, but both books are so delightful that they are worth your time.
As for the plot of Carry On, we meet Simon Snow as he returns to school. He’s an orphan, is the “chosen one,” has a female best friend, has a nemesis (Baz), and fights battles against creatures. All very familiar, right? The difference is that his nemesis is his roommate who is a secret vampire. I know, I know, vampires? again? As tired as I am of that particular creature, it’s only a portion of this book. We start the year with Simon, but Baz is missing. No one knows where he is or when he will be back. Since he’s Simon’s nemesis, he’s concerned Baz is off plotting against him. Of course Baz returns, keeping his disappearance a secret.
A huge reason Cath (the original writer in Fangirl) is so popular is that, in her story, Simon and Baz are gay. Baz is madly in love with Simon, but treats him so horribly, mostly because it’s easier that way, keeping Simon at bay. Simon has a girlfriend, but doesn’t really love her. And the moment Simon realizes that he is attracted to Baz is simply beautiful. Their love isn’t sweet and pure. It’s difficult and messy and real. Simon isn’t sure what he’s doing. Baz is struggling with his feelings becoming a reality. Even though these characters are set in a fictional world, their feelings are real and relatable. Being a teenager and falling in love is hard and confusing, especially for gay teens. In Fangirl, the love between a straight couple is portrayed so perfectly. You can’t help but root for them. It’s a bit messier in Carry On, but you root for them even more, hoping they overcome their combative nature, which has been the way for years, hoping they realize the combat is because they love each other.
The Carry On sequel, Wayward Son, came out yesterday. I’m itching to get my hands on it to see how Simon and Baz are doing. Their story isn’t perfect, but it’s genuine.