Rainbow's World

On my way home to Texas I was somewhat desperately looking for a book to tide me over on the airplane trip home, as I'd just finished my last one, and I've never been one who listens to podcasts or music on a plane ride, because it's such a perfect time to catch up on reading.  I had plenty of time in the Newark Airport, as I'd arrive three hours prior to my flights departure, and it was delayed even further by weather issues in Colorado (go figure).  I'd pretty much covered the entire store, but hadn't made it to YA.  There's a reason.  I always feel like a creepy old man in the "Young Adult" section.  Like I'm A- someone who refuses to grow up and thinks I still AM a teen, or B-  I want to spy on the teens of America like some kind of a peeping Tom.  And it's not that I haven't read Young Adult fiction, it's just not my number one or number two choice, and any time I do it feels like a guilty pleasure (a term I'm not a huge fan of, as I usually think we should like what we like and be proud of all our pleasures unless there really is something harmful to others in them).

This is the long way of explaining what guided me to Rainbow Rowell's take on the world of magic and schools of sorcery, Carry On.  I'd heard a lot of wonderful things about Rowell's work, mostly of her award winning novel Eleanor and Park, and I'm so glad that I decided to plunge into her world.

It's not her plotting that makes her stand out, but her style, and the intense amount of warmth and optimism that she infuses these characters with.  There's a sense of optimism in her, a sense that made the loneliness of being a new person in the big city seem to evaporate for a while.   I loved these people in her fictional world and I wanted to make them my friends.  Pathetic as it may seem, that feeling of escape, that sense of not being alone for awhile, that's one of the great big giant reasons I read.  I read in the hope of getting lost in something other than myself.

If I think about it, it's one of the reasons I got into acting, and singing, and writing (although writing sometimes seems to have the opposite affect while I'm in the process, placing me in direct confrontation with myself)... but I digress.

Once I finished the book, as the days passed, the more I wanted to go back to her world, to steep in her ideas.  But mostly I wanted more Simon and Baz, the central characters in Carry On.  Luckily, there was a place to go for exactly that thing.  Because here's the somewhat unique origin story of The World of Mages.  It was created as a fictional Potter universe for Cath, the main character in Rowell's novel Fangirl, to obsess over, and stories of Simon and Baz are sprinkled throughout.

In fact, Rowell loved the characters so much that she decided to expand their lives and give them a book of their own.  I loved this book nearly as much as the first, and will definitely read everything she writes until I've sopped up every bit of her writing.

If you are thinking of reading her, there are a few different entry points.  If you don't want to read YA, she has also written a couple of adult novels, and if you aren't into fantasy, you could start with Eleanor and Park.

That said, if you are thinking of reading about Simon Snow, I would highly recommend reading Carry On before reading Fangirl, as it will give you a purer perspective to be introduced to the story. But regardless of what book you start with, I encourage you to start.