Before you proceed, please see first the book review for Carry On, book 1 of the Simon Snow series. The stories are connected so it is necessary for me to include critical plot points from Book 1 in this review.
So… the Watford gang is back! This time the book, Wayward Son, takes us on an exciting, totally impromptu road trip across the United States. With main leads Simon and Baz, and now solidly including bestfriend, Penelope, and ex-girlfriend, Agatha, we discover what happens after the big, climactic fight which occurred in Book 1.
Simon defeats the Humdrum but in exchange loses his mentor–The Mage, his friend–Ebb, and his powers–basically, putting into question his existence in a magical world where he no longer is a person of magic. Everyone else seemed to have moved on just fine–heading off to colleges, pursuing their passions, achieving their potentials. Whereas Simon remains to be at a loss, unable to comprehend what happens now and what happens next in such a whirlwind turn of events.
This is the pretext for their road trip adventure. Penelope and Baz know that there is something wrong with Simon, with him slowly becoming more acquainted with the couch rather than attempting to lead a normal life. It comes with great timing that Agatha now resides in California, choosing to leave urgently and without notice after the tragic events at Watford. Needing a change of scenery and a vacation aimed to helping Simon get out of his self-pity party, the group then decides to pay Agatha a visit–I mean, she can’t just up and leave without so much as an explanation, right? From here on, they meet friends along the way–both old and new. There are issues resolved, identities clarified, relationships built and severed, near-death experiences, fight scenes with creatures unknown, etc.–definitely an adventure which will keep you glued to your seat as you read every page.
Despite liking the flow and taking the story in a fresh and entirely different setting, this book, in my opinion, seems like a buffer or a filler. It answers some of the questions I had from Carry On, but not in the kind of depth I expected. I wanted to know what happened with The Mage, but it’s not explicitly stated here. Though we found out what happened to the management of Watford after The Mage‘s departure. I also wanted to know what happened to Lucy Salisbury‘s Visiting (also from Carry On), but it’s nowhere to be found here. I am utterly curious about Nicodemus’ reaction to what happened to Ebb, at the hands of The Mage, no less. What about the Grimm-Pitch manor after the Humdrum attack? Was it really the end of the Humdrum? Where did Simon’s powers go and will it ever come back?
I have so many questions left untouched and unanswered. I was hoping this book will connect some of the dots for me. Well, it did, but not for the ones I was hoping for. Here we learn more about the Vampires, which is, in the author’s defense, essential in our understanding of Baz. We also get a glimpse of Normal life in the midst of being in a magical world, with the introduction of Shepard. (I actually think there’s more to him that he lets on.) There’s also introspection and internalization of the female leads–Penelope and Agatha–which are good points of view to ponder on. The blossoming romance between Simon and Baz is still there, and still feels so good to read about, but it lacked focus in my opinion.
I give this book 3 stars. Unlike the first one, this just treads on a separate path. I get that the characters are on a holiday and the author wants us to join in on the fun, but that’s just it–we are not joining them for a sequel of events from Book 1. This paints a storyline anchored on the first but only on the surface. A quick break or a side trip where you rest up, gather your wits, sharpen your blades, and then go back to where you were last.
I guess with the third book, Any Way The Wind Blows, and the last chapter hinting that the gang are headed back to the United Kingdom, we’ll finally have the answers we’re looking for. Fingers crossed. (Rainbow Rowell, please. Give me this closure in Book 3.)
- Title: Wayward Son
- Author: Rainbow Rowell
- Year published: 2019
- Publisher: Wednesday Books
- Total number of pages: 368
- ISBN-13: 978-1-250-25802-1