Series: Caraval #1
Published by Flatiron Books
Published On: January 31, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Magic, Young Adult
Maturity Level: YA - some violence
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I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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.
The biggest thing I loved about Caraval was how magical it was. It wasn’t that magic was used so directly but that everything that happened had a little bit of magic in it. The outfits our characters wore were magical, the places they saw were magical, and even some of the other characters they met were full of magic. The magical aspects are what really held this book together for me because otherwise, I don’t think I would have finished.
“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.”
Caraval was not a bad book, I just found that I was interested in knowing what would happen without being attached to anyone or anything. I think one thing readers should know before starting this book is that it’s more of a romance than it is a fantasy book. I was desperately hoping for more fantasy elements to pick me up and blow me away but that didn’t happen. It’s also very much a young adult book. Some YA books can be written for older teens but this one felt a little too young for me sometimes.
I think my biggest issue with Caraval was the main character, Scarlett. I couldn’t connect with her at all. She took everything too seriously and overthought everything which started to drive me crazy about half way through. It’s hard to enjoy reading a book when you don’t feel anything for the characters. From the way the summary of the book is written, it makes it seem like this is a book about two sisters, one of which needs to be found. While that’s exactly what happened I didn’t feel the connection of these two sisters like I was expecting. Scarlett kind of floated between finding her sister and falling in love but feeling guilty about it. Her character was all over the place and I couldn’t keep it all straight.
Speaking of being confused, the whole concept of the clues in Caraval threw me off. Scarlett was given a list of clues to find her sister but when she checked them off they didn’t make any sense to me. I figured the clues would be something like locating a place or a person and they were but in a completely roundabout way that didn’t actually make any sense to the clue in the first place. It honestly gave me a headache trying to figure them out.
I think the author was trying to be vague on purpose which can work in some books but not this one. I had a hard time imagining the characters and places because the details we were given weren’t the right ones. There would be a paragraph explaining in detail what dress Scarlett was wearing but only a sentence about the place we were at. With all these magical places and people written into the story, I was expecting a lot more description and way less of the irrelevant narrative. Needless to say, I’m disappointed with this one.