Rowell’s books have always had something reminiscent of comfort food to me. Whatever dish that may be for you (for me its pizza), her novels, just like the comfort-food counter part, sooth away whatever ails inside of us, at least for the time we spend locked away in her story worlds.
Wayward Son is no different, and maybe the most escapist of her reads yet. And when I say escapist, I award that title like a badge of honor. Because, yes, books can be many things and they do not have to be escapist, but when I peruse the fiction aisles I do not do so looking for a title to highlight the miseries of my own life, I do so looking for escape. That during this fictional escape, I can (safely) face some of my own issues (personally, that would be anxiety in all its ombré shades of unwelcome) is an added bonus and something many fiction writers accomplish with excellence, that meshing of escapism and real-life applicability all rolled into one. Rowell is one of those, and Wayward Son deftly handles many important themes, such as identity, trauma, and prejudice.
Wayward Son picks up where Carry On left off and begins with the question, what happens when the battle against evil is won? What happens to our savior once he’s saved the day? The answer, he struggles to find his footing back in a world that is not at war and under constant threat.
Simon Snow is struggling. The loss of his bottomless well of magic and his Humdrum-fighting purpose have left him feeling bleak about the future. He doesn’t feel like being around himself, and as such, it’s not much fun for anyone else to be around Simon Snow either. Not that it’s Simon’s job to provide fun. He’s clearly traumatized. And his friends get that. After all, they’ve all got their own personal traumas too. War leaves wounds. Penelope decides that a change in scenery is overdue, and three plane tickets to America are procured.
Once the trio has hopped across the pond, Wayward Son quickly spins off into its own tale, because we would really believe that Penelope, Baz, and Simon could ever remain adventure-free for long? And if there’s no adventure to be found in England. Well, then a road trip through America and a new mission to save Agatha (who may or may not want to be saved, may or may not need actual saving) should solve that problem.
Again, Wayward Son leaves much to reminisce for Harry Potter fans. In the same way Carry On read like a fan-fiction ode to the franchise, Wayward Son feels like a fan fiction extension to the Harry Potter series. One that is lighthearted and never takes itself too seriously, while managing to be entirely its own.
“Five dollars off for cosplay,” the ticket seller says to Simon. “You too,” she says to me.
I look down at myself. “This is a very expensive shirt.”
If you enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, you will love Carry On and its sequel Wayward Son.
- Add Wayward Son to your Goodreads list.
- Check it out over at Pan Macmillan South Africa.
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- Enter to win a set of Fangirl, Carry On & Wayward Son (RSA only).
Book: Wayward Son
Published: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication Date: September 24th, 2019
Age Range: 13+