Book Review

Wayward Son

Wayward Son

  • Author: Rainbow Rowell
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publication Date: September 24, 2019
  • Publisher: Wednesday Books
  • Series: Simon Snow #2

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Simon Snow is back, and he’s coming to America!

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.

So I read Carry On last month (see my review here), and I was really hoping that the issues I noticed with that book would improve. They didn’t, but at least the author is consistent.

I loved the idea of taking a look at what happens to the Chosen One after all the action is over. And in Simon’s case, it isn’t very pretty. He’s depressed. He’s lost interest in everything — going to university, furthering his relationship with Baz, even participating in any part of daily life. Plus, he’s still got huge wings … and a tail.

“…I knew that Simon had suffered — but I thought winning would make up for it. I thought victory would be enough. That relief would fill in all those holes. I think Baz believed love would do the trick …”

Penny decides that he needs a road trip through America. And because it’s Penny, it’s a multipurpose trip. It’ll allow her to reconnect with Micah (her boyfriend across the pond), and check in on Agnes, who seems to have stopped responding to calls and texts. 

There were some funny parts in the story, as expected. When a group of isolated, magic-educated Brits attend a run of the mill Renaissance Faire, you know it’s bound to be a source of amusement:

“It’s like Monty Python and the Holy Grail crossed with The Princess Bride crossed with Peter Pan …”

Which isn’t actually a bad description. However, the overabundance of breasts on display at the Ren Faire does Simon to ask some questions about his sexuality, which I had been expecting in the last book, when he just jumped from being straight to gay:

“I still haven’t sorted out whether I’m still attracted to women or whether I ever was, or whether I’m some kind of Baz-only-sexual.”

Of course the crew gets into all sorts of mischief and adventure, which I also expected. Because a Simon Snow book wouldn’t be very interesting without this. The plot itself was pretty intriguing, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. The crew even picks up a new member along the way. But I was super disappointed to discover that he didn’t hesitate to make his own assumptions about people, which actually turned out to be weird and offensive:

“I was worried about who we were going to send into the lobby — the black guy, the white devil, the Middle Eastern girl, or the pungent vampire.”

So I’ll let white devil slide, since Simon actually does have wings and a tail so he really does look like a devil, but NOT EVERY BROWN PERSON IS MIDDLE EASTERN! Rainbow Rowell is clearly nothing if not consistent, and I don’t know why I expected her to leave this little racist touch out of her work. How silly of me. Maybe it was supposed to be okay because it came from the only Black character in the whole book? Because I’m pretty sure that isn’t how it works. Not to mention the fact that it left a really bad taste in my mouth. I also think this is more of an NA book than YA, but that’s just my own thing.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 4

6 replies »

  1. Hmm…..I was already skeptical about this book when I saw that it was just a magical road trip movie. Now I’m even less inclined. Was the comment about who to send into the lobby meant to show the speaker was worried about himself and his friends being discriminated against and/or automatically treated with suspicion? Like, I think I get the intent, but it gives me cringey flashbacks to a Hispanic character in the movie “Max” joking very cheerfully about how he was going to get flagged by ICE any day now. Like, the screenwriter thought that would just be something a Hispanic character would obviously (/sarcasm) sprinkle into a casual conversation?

    Liked by 1 person

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