Book Review: Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell (3/5)

6 Feb

This is the first in a run of middling book reviews for me. I haven’t found anything that’s blown me away for a while and I’m in a run of ‘Meh, I guess 3 Stars.’ This is the only one that’s in a series so the only one I can consider is based on my expectation and enjoyment of the first two. The others will have to speak for themselves.


Cover image via Amazon

Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow #3) by Rainbow Rowell

Other books by Rowell reviewed on this blog:

Carry On (Simon Snow #1)
Wayward Son (Simon Snow #2)
Attachments (and Book Club Reflection)
Eleanor & Park

Summary from Amazon:

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.

I wasn’t really taken in by this story. It seemed to really float around for the first third or so, not much direction going on and the characters didn’t seem to have any direction. Smith wasn’t even introduced for ages and ended up being a major character. It was a long time to define the problems the characters were going to be facing without really bringing them to the forefront. When the main problem did come to light, it seemed far too easy for the characters to overcome it. This book was more about relationships than anything else, but seemed to want to have a central ‘villain’ for the characters to rally around defeating. Compared to the second book (which I remember best), it seemed really forced.

I love Rowell’s characters and they will forever be my favorites. Baz stands out to me. I love the conflict he faces in this series and how he deals with it. He has a life at home that’s challenging and rich. You almost feel like Simon didn’t realize his roommate was two dimensional until the first book and then this series has been a great character development story for Baz. Penny still seems a bit unbelievable to me, but she’s so fun that I can still enjoy her plot line.

Baz had to deal with a lot in this book and I think he handled it well. His relationship with Simon is new so they’re still figuring things out. I loved how patient he was with Simon and how he was able to deal with some of his own insecurities without having them affect his relationship with Simon. I also thought he was really sweet in helping so much in his family crisis. With his age difference to his half siblings and step-mom, it might have been easy for him to go back to London and focus on school and his relationships instead of staying with his father and helping to find Daphne. The layers to his character in this book were great.

I related most to Simon in this book. When I’ve started new relationships, I’m always so unsure of myself. This applies to romantic, platonic, and professional relationships. I’m always unsure of how everything I do will be perceived and if I’ve overstepped any boundaries or forgotten to do something, etc. Simon’s insecurities and questioning in his relationship with Baz resonated with me a lot and I empathized with him.


Rainbow Rowell Image via Goodreads

The last third of the book, where there was the most action, was my favorite part. I think the characters are best when they’re interacting with each other so when they were all off on their own, dealing with their own subplots, I wasn’t as invested. This group make a great team and when they came together, it was fun and hard to pause.

The beginning, when everyone was apart, was really dull to me. I wasn’t too invested in Penny or Agatha’s plotlines and I felt these were focused on more in the beginning. Agatha’s personality has always seemed flat to me and Penny seems like a caricature. I enjoyed the parts where Simon and Baz came together and talked about their problems. But with each character on their own, without the chemistry, I couldn’t get into it.

Euan Morton narrated this audiobook and wow. Just wow. He was amazing. I’m glad he’s been consistently narrating this series because his take on each character is part of my mental picture of them now. His differences in tone between Simon and Baz are great and made it easy to remember who was narrating when I’d pick the audiobook back up. If there are more in this series and if I decide to listen to them, I hope Morton is the narrator.

There was a lot of romance and romantic relationships in this story. A lot of them were unlikely pairings. Simon and Baz are a known ‘enemies to lovers’ entity, but there are two more romances in this story that are new and I’d argue also very unlikely. I was a little frustrated at Agatha’s romance because it seemed a lot like Simon’s and I think that cheapened it. It was something she didn’t see coming until it smacked her in the face and then she took to it without question. I think that’s rare and seeing it happen to two main characters in a series was a bit too much for me. I liked Penny’s romance better. I thought it had a nice build and seemed to fit her personality well. Early 20s is a time I know most of my peers were seeking companionship so this didn’t seem forced to me. It was nice to see people finding someone they could share a part of their lives with. Though I’m not sure I liked the pivot from previously action-driven plots.

Writer’s Takeaway: What made these characters work for me was how they balanced each other. When they weren’t together, it seemed ‘off.’ Agatha was apathetic, Penny was neurotic, Simon was self-defeating, and Baz was stressed. When they’re together, Penny’s energy lifts Simon and Baz’s stress is calmed by Agatha. Having characters feed off each other and create a community is part of the story and keeping them apart affected that for me.

My least favorite of this series, unfortunately. Three out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the 200-Present time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge 2023.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts:
Any Way the Wind Blows by Rainbow Rowell | Bickering Book Reviews
Any Way the Wind Blows Review | Fangirl Fury
Book Review: Any Way the Wind Blows | Lil’V AKA Viv Lu


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