Simon’s defeated the enemy and found true love. So why can’t he make it off the couch? Bunce and Baz are going to college and experiencing life, but Simon just can’t face it. What’s the point when you’ve achieved your life aim? Bunce stages an intervention – a road trip across America is just what they need.
Rainbow Rowell’s novels are usually a 100% love from me (Fangirl and Eleanor and Park). In fact, I often feel urged to reread Fangirl (has it been 5 years since I reviewed it already? wow!). When I saw this one in the publicity catalog I even told the publisher that I’d possibly kill to get my hands on it. With hype like this, and the avid fan following Rowell has, I had high expectations.
Somehow the nature of this novel is that you don’t become too attached to any of them, and unfortunately that’s what made Rowell’s other novels speak to me so deeply in the past. At one point a character was introduced and I wondered how they could possibly be relevant if they get mindwiped! Overwhelmingly I felt like there were too many characters that I needed to care about, and so I felt myself caring less about them overall.
You wonder at first what the main plot point of this novel is going to be. Surely it can’t just be following two magicians, a werewolf and a demon across America in a convertible? Nope! It’s not! But Simon, Bunce and Baz unpacking their feelings around having overcome the enemy from Carry On could have had more air time. If child soldiers are a theme that Rowell wanted to address, and PTSD, I wanted more of it. Less ‘fluff’ somehow. There’s being lighthearted, and then there’s just blatantly brushing off problems.
I found myself underwhelmed by this novel. I don’t know whether it’s because I hadn’t read the first book (oops) or that there was something inherently lacking in it. I don’t really understand why Simon is so confused about his relationship with Baz all of a sudden. I do want to go back and read the first book to see what I missed, and maybe identify what I really needed to know to enjoy this novel to its fullest.
Personally, I’d keep the wings. There are some other issues that are left unaddressed, such as Baz’s inevitable non-aging compared to his friends and how he’ll deal with that in the future. And Bunce’s overwhelming nature of, well, being Bunce. The novel ends on a cliffhanger, but I’m just not that excited for the third. 3 stars from me.
Pan Macmillan | 24th September 2019 | AU$17.99 | paperback