Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publication Date: July 6, 2021
Length: 579 pages
Read Date(s): July 8, 2021 – July 11, 2021
In Carry On, Simon Snow and his friends realized that everything they thought they understood about the world might be wrong. And in Wayward Son, they wondered whether everything they understood about themselves might be wrong.
In Any Way the Wind Blows, Simon and Baz and Penelope and Agatha have to decide how to move forward.
For Simon, that means deciding whether he still wants to be part of the World of Mages — and if he doesn’t, what does that mean for his relationship with Baz? Meanwhile Baz is bouncing between two family crises and not finding any time to talk to anyone about his newfound vampire knowledge. Penelope would love to help, but she’s smuggled an American Normal into London, and now she isn’t sure what to do with him. And Agatha? Well, Agatha Wellbelove has had enough.
Any Way the Wind Blows takes the gang back to England, back to Watford, and back to their families for their longest and most emotionally wrenching adventure yet.
This book is a finale. It tells secrets and answers questions and lays ghosts to rest.
Carry On was conceived as a book about Chosen One stories; Any Way the Wind Blows is an ending about endings. About catharsis and closure, and how we choose to move on from the traumas and triumphs that try to define us.
NOTE: There are some spoilers for the book and the series in this review. If you haven’t read the book yet, go read it, and then come back to see if our thoughts about it are similar!
To say I was eagerly anticipating the release of this novel would be a massive understatement. I loved the first two books in this series, and Simon and Baz are some of my favorite characters I’ve ever read. The first novel was a fun deconstruction of the Chosen One story. The second story was not what I expected but turned out to be a really interesting look into the psyche of someone who loses everything they’ve ever known. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like it that explored what happens to the Chosen One once he’s fulfilled his role and is no longer ‘chosen’ anymore. So, I was excited to see what the finale of the narrative had in store, and, for the most part, the book lived up to my expectations.
The pace of the book was lightning fast. I never really wanted to put it down, and the overall plot was interesting and kept me hooked. There was a lot going on because each of the main characters had their own subplots that sort of came together in the very end. They were all enjoyable to varying degrees and seemed focused on a central theme for all the characters: identifying who they were and what that means for their life moving forward. For the most part, I enjoyed getting the multiple POVs throughout the story, but there were times I think it was used a bit too much. For example, one chapter had multiple POV changes during the same scene, which created some confusion in keeping up with the dialogue because I couldn’t remember whose POV it was to know who was talking at times.
All of the characters really shined in this book and exhibited quite a bit of growth and change from where they were at the start of the novel. Simon was still struggling with determining who he was after losing all of his magic and spent most of the book on a journey of figuring out his identity. His hardships and growth were compelling to read, and the book’s exploration of his sexual orientation and his struggle to attach a label to himself were great representation for people still unsure of how to define themselves. Baz spent a good bit of the story coming to terms with some of the bad things he did in the name of his family, and Penelope learned how to color outside the lines a bit by breaking more rules than ever and being more independent from Simon. Agatha also grew to find her place in the world now that she is no longer the girlfriend of the Chosen One who is always getting kidnapped. Overall, all their stories were engaging, but I did miss having the entire gang together. They spent most of the book on their individual journeys, which resulted in a loss of the spark their interactions as a group gave the two previous books.
The main plot of the book about the arrival of new Chosen Ones was interesting and created a great dilemma for Simon. It also acted as a good reflection of some current political affairs with its focus on conspiracy theories and leaders who promise salvation and restoration of former glory but instead bring nothing but lies and deceit. Although, I can’t make up my mind if the ending was somewhat repetitive or just a great mirror of the first story to bookend the series. The ending also left quite a few things unanswered and felt a bit rushed. I would have liked more time to see what Simon does with the information he learns at the end of the book, and the book never answered what got amplified within him from the spell.
The best part of this book was undoubtedly the relationship between Simon and Baz. The writing does a great job of conveying how difficult it was for the characters, especially Simon, to build intimacy and connection. The book also shows excellent examples of how consent works within a relationship, and I was happy to see it explored in such depth. ***MAJOR SPOILER*** They really were great together, which I was happy about after how horrible they were together in the last book. The first part of this book continued their relationship problems from the last novel with the rest of the book focusing on how they overcome them. If I have one major complaint, I think the first part of this book should have actually been the ending of the second book. It would have made some of the turnabout in their relationship seem less sudden and drastic, especially if their was a slight time gap between the two stories. Despite this flaw, the growth of their relationship in this book was a joy to read and made me happy for them.
Overall, I enjoyed this book just as much as I expected. The relationship between Baz and Simon was front and center while also giving each individual character an interesting arc of growth. I still have some questions and think some things could have been done differently to improve the story. But I’m sure I will re-read this book and the entire series over and over again. Therefore, I rate the book 4 out of 5 stars.