Caraval by Stephanie Garber was released back on January 31st, 2017 and somehow posting our review got overlooked so this is technically not a book rewind because it is not quite a backlist title yet! Check out my thoughts below and I would like to thank Flatiron Books for the review copy provided through Netgalley, which in no way influenced my opinions.
Category: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery
Publication: January 31st, 2017; Flatiron Books
Remember, it’s only a game…
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.
What can I say about this that hasn’t already been said somewhere else? Possibly and probably nothing. But, I’ll try.
First off, I loved that the romance is second fiddle. This is about love, but familial love. Sisterly love. And that is so rare these days, I couldn’t help but get a bit giddy about it. And I get that some people may be annoyed at times, because Scarlett DOES mention her sister constantly, but that’s who she is there for. The reason she’s playing the game is to find and rescue the girl.
And then there’s the mystery, the constant guessing at what is going on. Wondering who to trust (no one, haha). With so many twists and turns, I really had no idea what was going to happen next. Or how it would all end. Each time I thought I had a handle on it all, things would get flip-turned and I’d be clueless again.
While it may seem misleading, the book isn’t really set in a carnival or circus atmosphere. But the world-building is enchanting. I could envision exactly how everything looked. And, it made me want to play the game, too! This might seem crazy, but at times it almost felt like a Wonderland-type world. Everything seems topsy-turvy, inside out, upside down.
The weakest aspect was probably the character building. I didn’t really know any of them very well. And though Scarlett and Tella had a close bond, I only knew that because I was told. It wasn’t ever SHOWN. Then, there’s Julian…I liked him okay, but the romance was so scarce that again, the connection was weak. It really didn’t matter to me by the end if they were together or not. To me, the romantic aspect could have been left out completely.
Garber does write beautifully, however. Her descriptions are amazing, fantastic, and it’s easy to get lost in this little world she’s created. I think the ending was a bit rushed (and perhaps confusing). But I will definitely continue the series!