Author: Stephanie Garber
Genre: Fantasy, magic, YA, romance
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.
Valuable advice to not just the characters. The story of Caraval sweeps you up quickly, and doesn’t let go easily. While I enjoyed reading it, it wasn’t until after I’d finished, that I started to see all the faults. The intense plot distracts you from the rest of the book, it seems.
So. I’m not exactly sure what to think of this book. I like it, but then I go through it again in my head, and it’s back in a negative light. But, I definitely enjoyed it while I was reading it. It was a very fun experience. I want to make that clear. (Also, look how pretty the cover is??! That was what piqued my interest in the first place)
“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”
― Stephanie Garber, Caraval
When I look back on it, and go through plot, characters, setting, it all seems to go pear-shaped. Firstly, plot… (Let’s get the negative bit over with) It seemed like a good idea at the beginning. It sounded very promising, up until the crazy twists and turn. By the end of the book, I actually didn’t know what was going on. Details kept being changed, and more things added in, until the villain was no longer the villain at all. It was a bit hard to keep up with. After I’d finished, I did manage to sort out what was happening, but was still left wanting more. Luckily, there is a second book! Even after this little complaint, I still want the next one. Surely that must mean something.
Ok next: characters. The facts; interesting on the outside, very little development (except for one). Again, it’s like a thin layer of good book on the outside, but when go deeper, you discover it’s actually not that good of a quality book. The main character, Scarlett, started out as likeable, if a bit on the cautious side, but that’s not a bad thing. (I can be pretty cautious sometimes too) But once the male character was introduced, the interesting, well-told story-line, kept getting interrupted by the old fairy-tale belief that she needs to be saved by him.
Blah, blah, blah.
Come on Scarlett, you can do better than this!! (I don’t know if you can tell, but I really enjoy books with strong female leads…) By the end, once everything was twisted around, she started to become a little better, but her sister, on the other hand, was interesting all the way through. Tella had her own beliefs and plans, and didn’t wait for permission to implement them. While this became annoying in some ways, we do need some complications other than the climax. So characters were a mixture of interesting, well-thought-out, confusing, and annoying. There’s just so much happening in this book!
It’s almost as if Garber has tried a little too hard, and added in too many aspects, and that makes the writing messy. For example, it was a confusing concept to begin with, and then magic is involved, and then double-sided characters, and then on top of that, Scarlett has this random ability to sense feelings in colours. It’s so random. This little talent is not introduced, or explained at all, it’s just there, and pops up in random points in the story. I found that a little strange.
All, in all, I’d say it’s the perfect young adult book, designed to keep people reading. A great setting, what started out as great characters, and an enjoyable read, until you start filing through it in your head. I think, by my rating policy, I’m going to give it 4 stars. The writing structure could definitely have been better, but I would certainly still recommend to people. If you have read it, what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them all below in the comments. 🙂