Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Published by Flatiron Books on January 31st, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, 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.
Caraval was SUPPPPER hyped up. Like I saw (see?) it EVERYWHERE. No one can get enough of it. So of course, when I saw it at the library, I was like “well, checking it out won’t hurt.” And yeah, it didn’t hurt. It just didn’t bring me the amazing story that I thought I would find.
I had a number of issues with this book. Firstly was Scarlet. She just annoyed me to no end. She was whiny and acted like everything she did was Such. A. Big. Deal…. Like girl, get over yourself. I’m sorry. Also, I get that she loves her sister. Like believe me, I get it. But she just went on and on and on about it. Every other sentence was like “Oh my dear Donatella, oh how I love her so, but here are all the issues I have with her…. but still she is so dear to me.” HONEY, WE GOT IT THE FIRST TIME. Just chill.
Donatella, on the other hand, is probably the most selfish person out there. She loves Scarlet, and wants to save her from marrying this Count that she hasn’t met yet, but still, there are better ways to go about it, even with a father as terrible as theirs. I really just couldn’t get on board with Scarlet or Donatella or their relationship or anything about them really.
Julian, on the other hand, was maybe the only character I really liked. He was witty and fun and pushed Scarlet to be almost-bearable. I really liked the character development that he went through, and that he did what he thought was right, even if it could get him in trouble.
As for the whole Caraval aspect of the book (cause, ya know, that IS what the book is about), it really just didn’t appeal to me. Yeah, I liked the whole “It’s a game” thing. I thought that was awesome. But everything else was kind of weird. The whole magical aspect of the game was a little hard to get a grasp on. Basically magic isn’t real, but some of it is? I’m still not really sure. The whole thing was just kind of confusing.
I was really hoping for an amazing ending to this book. Something that would tie everything together and make sense of all the confusion. But I didn’t exactly get that. I just got more confused. And then irritated by the Scarlet and Donatella relationship.
The Epilogue was honestly the best part of this book. It threw a new twist on the whole book and honestly saved the whole thing. Will I read the second book? Probably, but only because of the epilogue.
Okay, so I know it seems like I hated this book. I didn’t. It was entertaining, and I don’t regret reading it. I just happened to have quite a few problems with the book. But really guys, it wasn’t terrible.
I would recommend this book to people who love fantasy and adventure. It wouldn’t be my top rec, but hopefully (obviously) other people enjoy this book a whole lot more than I did. Maybe this book was just too over-hyped, and my expectations ruined the story. Maybe Caraval just isn’t for me.
I am going to give Caraval three out of five hearts.
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