Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication date: January 31, 2017
Page Count: 407
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Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .
Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved 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 far-away, 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. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
REVIEW: (Contains spoilers!)
Well, this book has been…interesting to read. I’m not exactly jumping head over heels for this book. So a fair warning to ya, this is gonna be a rant. Because I didn’t enjoy this as much as I was hoping to. I may be one of the few who found this book to be over-hyped and believe that this book is just not for me. And I was so caught up in the hype, waiting for its publication date. But unfortunately, Caraval was a huge disappointment for me.
What I Liked About Caraval:
“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.”
Because I still believe each book has its merits, I’ll point out what I like about this book before telling you what about it that irked me.
I like the world building and writing in this one. Garber has done well in that, at least. It was fairly easy to imagine the wonderful world that is Caraval and its unique and magical characters. We have a beautiful island where Caraval is held and where all the mysteries and wonders take place.
With breath-taking views and splendid architecture that comes alive at night, Caraval has a pretty descriptive and interesting setting.
The writing is also alright for me. Whilst the plot isn’t my favourite part of the book, the writing does have its own special essence that made me continue reading it despite considering to DNF this multiple times.
“No one is truly honest. Even if we don’t lie to others, we often lie to ourselves. And the word good means different things to different people.”
What I Disliked About Caraval:
I wasn’t a huge fan of Scarlett and Donatella Dragna in this. Nor was I of any of the main characters. Though I loved the details of the performers and the way they brought themselves about in the game, the MCs weren’t anything special in my opinion. I found the Dragna sisters to be whiny and spoilt, and despite growing up in an abusive environment where their father is the true villain here, I’m surprised that Scarlett wasn’t made out to be a little bit brighter. This is a game of high risks, but to have the MC scared and paranoid the whole time when she should have tried to solve all those clues in a more efficient way just pissed me off. Yes she did eventually solve them and found Tella, but wasn’t her feelings for Julian more important?
It certainly felt that way…
Because what’s more cliche in a YA book than 2 MCs hating each other in the beginning only to fall in love after a week of knowing each other? God forbid, we teach the young-lings that going off on an adventure with a random stranger is a good idea.
The whole plot didn’t really work out for me. It felt like the romance was more of the focus in this book. That and Scarlett’s insistence of getting married to the Count and running away to her happily ever after, instead of figuring out how to save her sister from Legend’s grasp.
The ending seemed a bit abrupt and it felt like the story wanted to save everyone from dying. But I guess that kind of manipulation and deception is what made people like this book.
The one thing I truly felt made this book overrated is its comparison to The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern). I’ve read The Night Circus and I can honestly say Caraval doesn’t even begin to compare with it. The Night Circus had so much depth, plot and wonderful characters in spite of the amazing love story woven into it.
So no, Caraval is unlike The Night Circus.
So those are my thoughts on Caraval. I won’t be apologetic for having an unpopular opinion on an over-hyped book. It just didn’t work out for me. Though I won’t continue with the series, you could still give it a try. If you’ve read this do let me know what you think of it and what made you like it!