The story is supposed to be over.
Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…
So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?
What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…
That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.
They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…
With Wayward Son, Rainbow Rowell has written a book for everyone who ever wondered what happened to the Chosen One after he saved the day. And a book for everyone who was ever more curious about the second kiss than the first. It’s another helping of sour cherry scones with an absolutely decadent amount of butter.
Come on, Simon Snow. Your hero’s journey might be over – but your life has just begun
Wayward Son was my most anticipated release of 2019. I was so excited when this book was first announced, as Carry On is one of my favorite books and Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors and I’m always happy to read more about her.
(Yes, I know she’s problematic. You can enjoy someone’s work and still acknowledge they’ve done offensive things in the past. I know. Shocking.)
This review will be slightly different, because under the line, I’ll be discussing my favorite and least-favorite aspects of the book with spoilers. But if you haven’t read Wayward Son yet, I’ll share some of my non-spoiler-y thoughts first.
I think Rainbow Rowell’s writing style will forever be my favorite and there’s no difference here. I also appreciated how it discussed mental health issues, though it could’ve been much more developed. Apart from that, though, there’s not much I enjoyed about it.
The characters had no development and it truly felt like none of the problems they started the book with were actually resolved. I also feel like the magical system is so confusing and hasn’t been explained at all. My biggest gripe is probably the fact that there was so much that could’ve happened here and yet it was just 350 pages of much non-sense.
Unfortunately, I didn’t like this at all, but I still feel like there are people who could enjoy it. I, sadly, just wasn’t one of them. With that being said, I’d then recommend checking out Lauren’s review, that had a more positive note but still acknowledged some of the issues I had with it.
If you’ve read the book, keep reading, but if that’s not the case, please stop here.
- Baz. Baz is my favorite character in the series and I’ll never grow tired of him. I feel like, while in Carry On, we were mostly seeing him through Simon’s eyes as his villainous self and he did act like a villain for most of that book, in Wayward Son, we see his more laid back side and it was so fun. I also love that we saw him learning more about the vampires and it felt real to his character and what he went through and how much he was deprived from information about who he is. It was also hilarious seeing his insight on American culture – he was bitter about everything and all he pointed out was so real. Oh, and of course, the fact he was wearing flower suits made me the happiest.
- Discussions on mental health. When we start out the book, Simon is clearly struggling a lot with depression. And despise the crazy adventures this book take us, it’s something that it’s still there and that the other characters talk about as well. It wasn’t like he was “healed” by the trip, but you can see how being around magic, even if it was mostly magic that wanted to kill him, made him happy and alive again.
(The fact Simon Snow lost his magic is a tragedy and I’ll never truly recover from it, tbh).Even though I’d have enjoyed to see it more from his perspective, rather than Baz or Penny talking about how he felt/looked, I still think it was a well done discussion.
- Lack of character development and miscommunication. I honestly don’t think Baz and Simon shared more than two lines without being interrupted. Apart from that scene in the back of the truck, I missed a lot of the Baz/Simon banter we had in book 1. They finished the book with the same issues they left off and I feel like so much could’ve been worked out if they just *talked*. The lack of communication was probably to keep the angst, but it honestly felt frustrating after so many attempts of conversations that were interrupted by either Penny or Shepherd. All in all, Penny was the only character I could feel a development of and it didn’t even matter that much to me, because she annoyed me so much.
- Nonsensical magic system. Because we only learn the magic system along with the characters, I feel like we don’t know anything at all. In Carry On, this didn’t bother me, because it was clear that the author was trying to pull off a twist at tropes such as the “chosen one”, and therefore, the “complicated magic system” too. But, at this point, it just doesn’t make sense anymore. I need more information about it, and a lot more answers. The way vampires are portrayed is also really annoying. Again, didn’t bother me in the first book, because I could see where it was coming from and it was clearly a mockery on the way they have been portrayed on media forever, but now, I just think there literally is nothing vampires can’t do. They’re not immortal. They can eat. The sun doesn’t affect them. They can see themselves in mirrors. They can even BITE people and not immediately TURN them. Like, what? What makes vampires vampires then in this universe, if apart from needing to drink blood, they’re essentially humans?
- The wasted potential. When I re-read Carry On earlier this August, I created all this headcanons in my head of what could happen in the follow up. My main wish for this book was for Simon to find closure. I thought it would be the perfect way to both help him on his depression and tie some loose ends we had on the first book. Now, while I do think this will happen eventually in the trilogy, it made this book feel like a true wasted plot, as I feel like nothing *truly* happened. This ended up being much more of a Baz book and I wanted much more of Simon. I thought, since his mom had allegedly went to America, we would be able to find something there to connect all the dots and that led Simon to finally learn more about his family and where he comes from. I want Simon to know his mom showed up for him and not Baz. That he was loved and wanted, at least by one of his parents. That Snow IS a middle name. And I’m still frustrated that we got literally nothing here, but vampire shenanigans that didn’t even make that much sense.
- Penny. Okay, I may be being petty right now, but oh Lord, was Penny always this annoying? I feel like she just spent half of this book either cock-blocking Baz and Simon or making stupid decisions even though she’s supposed to be the smartest out of all. Her constant suspicion on Shepherd also didn’t make her smart, but rather showed how she was constantly asking the wrong questions and couldn’t really see past her prejudice against Normals. I was really annoyed by her in this book and, though I was happy to see more layers of her, showing how much of a control-freak she could be, like with her relationship with Micah, I still couldn’t stand much of her character.
Overall, I definitely enjoyed Carry On better than Wayward Son. I am still open to re-reading this book once the third one is out and maybe my opinion will change in the future, but unfortunately, this was a disappointment for me.
I’m definitely still going to carry on with the series, because I’m way too invested in the characters to back out now. I just wish this had explored a lot more than it did and just, in general, lived up to the hype that was built around it.
If you have read Wayward Son, let me know: did you like it? What are your thoughts on it? And if you haven’t yet, was there any book this year that really disappointed you? Let me know in the comments!