***** Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

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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.

You know what I really like in scifi and fantasy? What I really really like? When a story asks « what’s next. » A good hero’s journey is good. The hero picking up the pieces after the end of the story and having to really look the consequences in the face? Is even better.

A part of Carry On that I love beyond words is the inclusion of one of the characters talking to a therapist at the end. Obviously I’m going to be all ears for a sequel in which everyone is getting down from the adrenalyn and hitting a bit of a slump, and Wayward Son hurts in all of the right places­. Carry On was about defying the tropes. Wayward son is about reinventing yourself past them, and figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life when the ever after doesn’t quite cut it.

I’ve complained for years to anyone that can stand to hear me that the big movies and series are all well and good, but I want to see the day after the big battle. I want to see the characters pick up the pieces, deal with their trauma, and figure out where to go from there and what to do with their lives once their destiny has come and passed. And Wayward Son is all of that and more. It’s got a couple who got together in the middle of a crisis try to make it work when there is no crisis. It’s got the realization that there’s a whole world out there and all the rules of magic you thought you knew don’t apply to those americans. It’s got linguistics. It’s got a talking skunk. And more importantly, Agatha is back and still the smartest and more sensible character of them all with an absolutely brilliant moment to shine.

The book has a different feel and genre than the first, I will admit. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But it’s vibrant, it’s alive, and it’s human down to its core. And while our main characters are driving across america without much of a plan, the plot is slowly forming under them without noise or fanfare, until they’re right in the thick of it, and an absolutely genius plot twist involving a California cult just comes out of nowhere to smack you in the face (and then you realise it was coming up all along and you just didn’t notice.)

It’s also got a very pretty cover (or two or threes.)

I’m highly anticipating the sequel.

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