Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Published: January 31st 2017
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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.
Trigger Warning: Domestic Abuse
Considering the major hype surrounding this book, I was quite surprised how average it was. I did enjoy it very much. I thought it was fun and I wanted to get through to the end, but it was just average. Enjoyable. I didn’t find it as amazing and enthralling as many others did. What surprised me the most is how some people praise the writing, gushing about how gorgeous it is. Personally, I felt it was unnecessarily flowery- like it’s trying too hard to be something it isn’t. It was quite obvious that there were flowery metaphors sprinkled through in a way that didn’t flow well with the otherwise plain writing.
Something else that disappointed me was the circus aspect of it. I went into this expecting a circus-like vibe, but I didn’t really get that while reading Caraval. It was more like a town with several shops that somehow related to the game. I loved that it had a bit of creepiness and magic and a lot mystery, but somethings aren’t explained. I didn’t understand how magic works in this world; in fact, I didn’t understand anything about the world aside from the fact that there are two islands- one where Scarlett and her sister live and one where the game takes place. There’s not much depth.
I liked the characters but they annoyed the hell out of me, especially Scarlett. She keeps getting distracted and keeps making some of the stupidest mistakes when she’s supposed to save her sister and it infuriated me to no end. Also, I kinda wanted to smack her whenever she initiates unnecessary disputes with Julian. You’re supposed to find your sister and he can help you! But nooo, you just have to be a brat to him and complicate things further for the dumbest reasons. (Okay, so maybe I don’t like Scarlett at all)
The romance…it was meh. I didn’t care for it much. I admit I liked the tension between the two characters. That was my favorite thing about it. And I might’ve enjoyed their relationship much more towards the end, but for the most part, I was just indifferent towards it.
The mystery was my favorite thing about Caraval. There are twists and turns that you will not see coming. I was left guessing and ending up wrong several times throughout the whole book. There are so many things left unanswered at first and you can’t help but start scrambling for answers and explanations. And when it all comes together, it’s kinda mind-blowing! Especially towards the end, I was flying through the pages like crazy.
I also liked the emphasis on sisterhood, although we don’t see much of Tella. It was clear how much they cared for each other and how deep their bond was.
I usually end up enjoying hyped books but this one just didn’t do it for me. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way but still…I’m very much in the minority. Have you guys read Caraval? What did you think about it, do you really believe it lives up to its hype? Also, what are some overhyped books that you ended up not enjoying as much? Let me know down below! 😀