Title: Wayward Son
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Stars: ★★★★ (4 stars)
After a thread disordered itself on Twitter, I remembered I do have a blog for these things, so spoilers are ahead – vague but definitely there.
My biggest issues with this book come in that neither Penny nor Baz seem to make very important connections – ones which seemed very obvious:
- Simon lost his magic (which was a core part of his identity)
- Simon gained wings and a trail (which prevented him from interacting with ‘Normals’)
There’s an entire conversation between Penny and Shepherd (new character, definite fav) about how Penny can’t even imagine herself without her magic. How she wouldn’t be herself, so it isn’t a realistic question. Like she was transformed into a frog – does a frog even have feelings, etc.
Does she recognize this conversation and the connection to her best friend’s depressed state? Nope.
Baz worries Simon doesn’t want him. Considering Simon expresses dysphoria – and he has wings and a tail which aren’t limbs he was born with (hint, la hint?) – it baffles me that Baz doesn’t make the connection that Simon might be concerned that he’s less attractive now that he is a ‘freak’ and a ‘something.’
Neither are words Baz uses, but Baz never exactly tells Simon that he still considers him beautiful. Well, he says it once – knowing full well Simon can’t hear him at the time.
Ultimately, they are both extremely consumed with their own emotions on the end, and once again, Simon Snow tries to protect them by slowly distancing himself, so when he makes a decision (which he does by the end), they hopefully don’t miss him too much. Except…Baz still puts all his happiness on Simon in the last scene, so – well – poor boy just can’t win.
Otherwise, the back half is heavy for action, but character growth occurs throughout the first half, and we get to explore American magic, which is pretty fantastic. I honestly love Shepherd, and I think his introduction both as a noted character and a POV character were perfectly timed. Earlier would have distracted from Penny’s growth and Simon’s realization that he can’t allow himself to stagnate (even if he doesn’t believe he can be happy where he is (or make those he loves happy by staying with them)). Baz has less growth externally, but he realizes some things – and I believe he’s better prepared to fight for Simon than he was at the beginning.
Sadly, Simon is prepared to fight for Baz to be happy too – even at the loss of his own happiness.
Agatha has a self-saving moment, turning the corner between running from herself and confronting the parts of herself she doesn’t like (that she can actually change). Just because she has magic and uses magic doesn’t mean her life has to be all about magic.
Yes, Penny helps, but the one who really does the heavy lifting is Agatha, and without her, Penny would’ve been screwed. We need to celebrate that more. Not many reviews seem to recognize how pivotal that moment was for Agatha and for the whole crew.
All in all, definitely a ‘middle’ book. We’ll have to wait to see if some major secrets get revealed, but I’d actually prefer they didn’t. Simon wouldn’t benefit from knowing the Mage was his dad. We all know he’d blame himself for what happened to his mom, and if he realized the Mage was his bio father, that would make the struggle of killing him all the worse.
All I want is a frank discussion between Baz and Simon. Another one between Simon and Penny, and maybe – because we all know Penny – Shepherd mediating. If that guy makes the magic/no-magic identity connection first, I might just scream at Penelope, but that’s just me.