OP-ED reviews: Simon Snow trilogy by Rainbow Rowell and relating podcasts

OP-ED reviews: Simon Snow trilogy by Rainbow Rowell and relating podcasts

Madelyn Hutchison

Hello everyone! We are back with your regularly scheduled program today, except it’s a little bit better than usual.
Today I’m going to go over the Simon Snow trilogy by Rainbow Rowell, as well as a podcast that reads these books chapter by chapter.
Before we get into the trilogy, let’s talk about Rainbow Rowell for a second. Rainbow Rowell is an American author who lives in Omaha, Nebraska.
She writes stories, for adults, for teens, and two graphic novels she’s working on called PUMPKINHEADS and RUNAWAYS for Marvel.
These are her thoughts on the Simon Snow trilogy “Sometimes — actually, a lot of the time — she writes about lovesick vampires and guys with dragon wings.” All this information can be found on Rowell’s website rainbowrowell.com.
Now, I can tell some of you will probably be apprehensive about the “lovesick vampires” part of that quotation, and I completely understand.
We don’t want another Twilight, right? Well, don’t worry, there are not any overly obsessed, abusive, or pedophilic “boyfriends” in this story. Can you tell I have no love for Twilight? I hope you can.
I won’t be going very deeply into the plot of these books because book one is over five hundred pages, book two is about three hundred and thirty and book three is once again around five hundred pages. That’s a lot of work to go over, besides I don’t want to spoil everything.

Book one: Carry On. Right off the bat, this book is almost a carbon copy of the Harry Potter series. And that’s the whole point. It even takes place in Europe.
Simon, in this book, is supposed to be our Harry, Baz, Simon’s “bully,” is Draco (who
is also a vampire and Simon’s roommate). Penelope is Hermione.
Agatha is sort of like our Ron. Eb the goatherd is our Hagrid. The Mage is our Dumbledore, except Rainbow Rowell actually calls out The Mage for all the terrible things he did to Simon by raising him as a boy soldier.
While there are similarities, there are still some differences. For example, magic in this
world is limited and comes from the atmosphere, and magicians are just conductors for
the atmosphere of magic. Also, there aren’t any non-magical magicians, no one is a magician with non-magical parents, there aren’t any Muggleborns. Except for, supposedly, Simon. Their magic is tied to common phrases instead of botched fake Latin as well.
The main plot at its bare minimum (again this book is over five hundred pages there’s no way I can condense everything in this book to 1,000 words) is that we are starting in Simon’s final year at Watford (our Hogwarts), and there’s been this ominous villain that’s been messing with Simon since he showed up at school, called the “Insidious
Humdrum” kind of like our Voldemort.
This Humdrum is literally sucking up all the magic in the atmosphere, and thus creating these pockets of emptiness where a magician can’t even use magic. Simon has known since he was eleven that he would have to go up against the Humdrum in a final battle (sound familiar?).
However, there’s a villain he had no idea he would have to go up against.
Now, there are many side tangents to the main plot as this book goes into many different character perspectives and one thing is: Baz is gay for Simon.
He has the biggest crush on Simon, and supposedly the crush started during their fifth year. Cue the “And they were roommates!” Vine.
Another thing about the plot: This is the slowest slow burn I have ever read! My god! They don’t even kiss until chapter sixty-three, which is over four hundred pages into the book! Anyway, let me regain my composure real quick. On to book two.

Book two: Wayward Son. This book is the shortest of the three books, coming in at about three hundred and thirty pages. This book takes place almost immediately after the events of book one. Simon is feeling a bit depressed because of all the previous events (major spoilers so I’m not going to go into it) and he has dragon wings now as a side effect of the battle and can’t get rid of them.
So, Penelope and Baz decide to hatch a plan to get Simon out of the house by taking him to America for some fresh air (Penelope breaks a thousand and one magical laws to get them there but everything’s fine).
While there, their other friend Agatha gets in trouble with a literal vampire cult, and Baz, Simon, and Penelope are struggling their way across America to help her.
Witnessing renaissance faires for the first time, and dealing with half of their spells not working because the phrases they’re using aren’t common in America and therefore they have no power.
Also, they find an American who is a normal person, who just happened to be cursed by a demon and Penelope wants to take him back to London to help him. All the while Baz and Simon are having relationship problems.
I am not kidding. This is the plot. It’s kind of insane and to be honest my least favorite out of the three, but it’s just so crazy that you can’t put the book down until you finish it.

Book Three: Anyway The Wind Blows. The plot of this book definitely feels more controlled than the last one, it feels like the first one, which is good.
See, in book one Simon was prophesied to take down the great evil, well, he was never the chosen one and he never did take down the great evil technically so there are all these people who are pretending to be prophets and that they’re the chosen ones.
Essentially creating little cults all over Europe. Simon and Baz work together to stop these guys.
Baz is having issues at home because his stepmother ran off to one of these cults and so he’s helping his father with his three younger siblings. Simon and Baz are still having relationship problems (again, the slowest slow burn of all time).
Agatha is working with her father, the magician doctor, and meets this vet named Niamh Brody and helps the goats at Watford as they try to escape.
Also, apparently the goats have magical powers and they are essential to keeping Watford safe. And Penelope is trying to help Shepard (the American) with his demon problem.
Towards the end though, Simon finds his actual family, they stop the cults, Baz’s family life goes back to normal, Simon and Baz are in a relationship, Penelope falls for Shepard and Agatha lives her life as Watford’s goatherd. Happy ending for everyone! Yay!
My thoughts on the books: I loved them. They are so fun and they take you right out of the
ad parts of reality while keeping all the best parts and keeping you grounded.
I loved the representation in these books. We get both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and the homosexual relationships aren’t treated any differently than the heterosexual relationships. Simon doesn’t put a label on himself and he just says, “I like who I like” which I think is very important, because sometimes labels make people comfortable, and then sometimes people don’t want to label themselves.
Both are valid. There is also an Indian main character, and it tackles important issues while still seeming fanciful. You will likely love these books if you love reading about magic, screaming at your book due to the lack of communication between characters and just about everything in between.

The podcast:
A brief explanation of the podcast I mentioned at the top. The podcast is called EsGaype From Reality. It’s hosted by Lark Malakai Gray who is a trans man and Jessie Blount who is a black lesbian. They go chapter by chapter these books (so far, they’re almost done through book one) and they analyze each chapter while still bringing a layer of hilariousness and theories about the characters themselves.
I highly recommend it. You can find the podcast at hashtagruthless.com or anywhere you listen to your podcasts