“Just when you think you’re having a scene without Simon, he drops in to remind you that everyone else is a supporting character in his catastrophe.”
Rainbow Rowell’s standalone/sequel to Fangirl is one of the best books of 2016. I bought the novel not too long after it was published, and it stayed on my bookshelf for months until I finally got around to reading it. I wish I had done so sooner.
The book follows Simon, the protagonist in The Simon Snow series which is Fangirl’s Harry Potter equivalent, but where spells are cast through the power of language instead of wands.
Make no mistake though, this is not a Harry Potter novel. This is a melodrama, a comedy, a romance, and a ghost story. Simon Snow is a flawed protagonist who struggles to cast even the most simple of spells. As Baz says, “Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One ever chosen.” I can’t help but agree.
Simon is in his final year at the Watford School of Magicks and is having a terrible time: a goblin tried to kill him, his girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a vexation, his mentor keeps trying to send him away and his nemesis didn’t even bother to show up to school this year.
Simon is a hilarious character, who prefers to eat and battle dragons then go to school. His best friend, Penny, is so like Hermione, it’s amazing. She has a can-do attitude and refuses to let anyone tell her what to do, which I greatly admire. I really felt for Agatha, Simon’s ex-girlfriend. Throughout the story, we get the sense that Agatha is always cast as the damsel-in-distress and in the background of Simon’s story. I was happy that she finally got away from the world that made her so unhappy, and finally got to live the life she has always wanted. But my favourite character, by far, would have to be Tyrannus Basilton Grimm-Pitch – Baz.
Baz is a vampire, a fact that Simon has been trying to prove for years, but has always failed. He is the Draco Malfoy of this series, but a Draco that is desperately in love with Harry. Any Drarry shippers would be squealing into their pillows right now. The main plot of the story is Simon defeating the Insidious Humdrum, but the real story really revolves around Baz and Simon’s blossoming relationship, from enemies to friends to lovers. Baz has tried to kill Simon on many occasions and Simon has been trying to oust the ass for years. Their friendship was wonderful to watch grow, especially as Simon doesn’t realise what is happening. He doesn’t realise that his worry over the missing Baz has to do with his repressed feelings.
“I am going to die kissing Simon Snow.”
The Insidious Humdrum was a great revelation, as well as the Mage’s true nature. I nearly cried when I realised who Lucy actually was, and all that she went through for Simon. The ending was heartbreaking to read, and I am left wondering if Simon is going to have a tail for the rest of his life. And the fact that he no longer has any powers was gut-wrenching to experience.
I really enjoyed the magical element in this book. Magicians use wands, but the power of the spell, specifically the words, is how magic comes to life. The more popular a saying, phrase or word is, the more powerful the spell. I thought this was an intriguing way to liven up witchcraft and make this story original, especially when it is constantly compared to Harry Potter.
The ending was very well done: Simon and Penny are out in the real world and have a flat together like they have always wanted. Simon and Baz are together and they live happily ever after.
“Carry on, Simon.”
Buy the book here.