It seems as though it is librarian taboo not to have read Harry Potter. I am not, however, afraid to admit that I never read it. It was published when I was in middle school, and, to be honest, I was never interested; I was much more interested in Stephen King and John Saul. And as much as I imagined dragons and fairies and magic when I was a little girl, I HATED high fantasy books like Lord of the Rings. I have since seen and enjoyed all of the Harry Potter movies; plus, I don't think you can exist in our world today and NOT know about Harry Potter. That said, I'm still picky about the fantasy books I choose to read. However, knowing Rowell's reputation for Eleanor and Park, which I have not yet read but plan to, I picked up Carry On, which Lev Grossman called "thrilling and sexy, funny and shocking" on the back cover. To my extreme disappointment, all I could think of for the first quarter of the book was Harry P. The main character, Simon, is a "Normal" and he's an orphan and he's the Chosen One and he befriends Ebb, a sheepherder/groundskeeper... So, die-hard Harry P. fans may LOVE the similarities, but it definitely left me wanting more than what seemed to be a more grown-up version of Harry P. with bad language thrown in. Additionally, the spells, which are derived from songs or popular phrases, should be charming, but instead just annoy me. I was also planning to laugh. Andrew Smith books make me LAUGH. I recently read Lance Rubin'sDenton Little's Deathdate and Adam Selzer's Play Me Backwards - both made me LAUGH. Carry On, sadly, has not.
Now, I realize that this may seem like a negative review of Carry On. It may or may not be. I'm not finished reading yet. My original distaste may result from my disinterest in Harry Potter - that this novel didn't strike me as original enough - or that I don't particularly care for this genre of fantasy. It has taken me a substantial number of pages to get to a place where I'm beginning to think I may end of up liking it. Sometimes great books take some work, and I'm working. Now that I'm almost 2/3 of the way through, it has piqued my interest, and I even chuckled at one point when Simon arrived at Baz's for Christmas break. So now, I'm going to carry on, and I'll let you know what I think when I'm finished!