Wayward Son Review

On September 24, Rainbow Rowell released Wayward Son, the sequel to Carry On. It follows the same cast of characters from the first book on their road trip through America. (Photo courtesy of Keeli Johnson)

Few things give me joy in this world– Rainbow Rowell books are one of them. Her books are disarmingly relatable which is why I’ve been hyped for Wayward Son, the sequel to her book Carry On. It’s a bit convoluted, but basically, Carry On is fanfiction written by the main character from her book Fangirl. In the book, there is a book series called Simon Snow which is a fictional version of the Harry Potter series. 

Carry On is basically like Harry Potter but with better writing.

I’m a sucker for pretty things so of course, the stunning art for Wayward Son enchanted me. In addition to the cover art being incredibly amazing, the Barnes & Noble edition comes with art on the inside as well.

Simon Snow’s story is supposed to be over, but it’s not, and after the events of the last book he’s super depressed now. As a way to break him out of his current shut-in lifestyle, Baz and Penny take him on an American road trip to meet up with their friend Agatha who wants nothing to do with them and their magical shenanigans. Through Ren faires, vampire parties, and midwestern car chases, these idiots have an absolute buck wild adventure.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a sequel, so I’d recommend reading the first book. While you don’t necessarily need to read Fangirl to understand this series, it does add some interesting commentary about fanfic culture if you’re interested in that.

It’s a relatively easy book to get through; it’s only about 350 pages, and I finished it in three days. Similar to the first book, the chapters are told from different character’s perspectives. My absolute favorite part of this book is the contrast between Baz and Simon’s chapters. Baz spends a comically long time going on about how much he hates the midwest, and then it shifts to Simon loving everything about America. 

The tone of this book is pretty similar to the laid back, fantastical tone of Carry On even though the setting is completely different. Instead of being in a magic school in England, they travel through multiple American locations like Las Vegas and Chicago. The majority of the conflict roots from Simon and Baz’s inability to speak to each other like functional human beings. Simon is super depressed now because he no longer has a purpose in life, he lost his magic, and he had to kill his evil father figure in the last book. Baz is busy being an edgy vampire loser and Penny is facing the consequences of being a self-obsessed and neglectful girlfriend. As a result of all these losers being preoccupied with their emotions, they accidentally commit a bunch of crimes and get in fistfights with vampires.

In addition to all the characters from the first book, there’s also a new guy named Shepardwho’s the coolest dude ever. He’s a normal guy who just likes to befriend magical creatures by being a charming babe. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when vampires hold Shepard hostage and while trying to convince them not to eat him, he refers to the vampire as “my dude” which is objectively the coolest. He also wears a cool jean jacket and constantly talks about how much he loves his mom. At the end of the book, we find out he’s not as normal as he seems; apparently, he’s cursed by a demon and has no soul. This is great news to me because this means we’ll probably get to see him again.

By the cliffhanger ending, I assume there’s going to be another book in this series. Even though this book felt almost completely different from Carry On because of the new setting and the new characters, it was still really good. I love Rainbow Rowell books because even when she talks about serious topics, her books still feel easy and relaxed. I would recommend not only Wayward Son but all of Rowell’s books if you haven’t read them.


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