Author: Stephanie Garber Rating: (2) Pages: 407
Genres: Fantasy YA, Romance Goodreads
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.
Sadly, I was really disappointed with this book and the hype surrounding it.
The writing was quite beautiful and whimsical; this really allowed such beautifully vivid imagery. The style really suited the story and created a magic but dark vibe. Despite this, sadly at times the metaphors were confusing and didn’t make sense, they seemed to be intended to sound pretty and whimsical, but were not entirely thought out, they were obvious bullshit.
“Tella’s expression fell like a doll Scarlett had dropped.”
Further, the way colour was used to describe feelings (metaphors) didn’t seem to be the best choice, I understand there may be some people who actually think like this, but for the large majority of people who don’t, it just further added a disconnection from Scarlet’s overall feelings and personality. And rather just reads like Scarlet is constantly informing us how the sky is red red, for no particular reason. Making it seem (probably unintentionally) lazy. I believe this is easily where Scarlett’s lack of personality stems from.
Scarlett was a basic and uninteresting character whose primary characteristic was her concern and loyalty to her sister and her ability to not make up her own mind on anything. Despite this, we were still constantly only ever told about this loyalty and were never shown any indication of this being true. Just like Tellas supposed “Wild” personality that we hardly saw a glimpse of.
Her attraction to Julian vice versa also seemed out of nowhere, because she had such little personality, I struggled to see where Julian’s appeal for her came from. Oh and why did she like Julian? Because he was hot, obviously no need for any depth there. Even the few small details we learnt of Julian eventually feel on its head and by the end, we really didn’t know what of his character was true and what was not.
As for Her father, he lacked any motive 95% of the time, his abusive nature, killing off random people, why? Nothing, he’s just evil.
There was not a character I could name who had a glimpse of personality (Okay maybe Dante had a bit of potential)
The world within Caraval was intriguing and unique. The writing allowed us to image this magical, and slightly dark, almost Victorian style SET-UP, and the vivid descriptions of a “wooden mansion sprawling towards the sky as its wooden beams still grew” and “ A fifty foot tall iron fence that seemed to curl around it, formed into shapes both vulgar and innocent” in captured me instantly, I felt if I was there in this magical, enchantingly brilliant place. It was interesting and so beautiful to read about.
But that’s until we are told of what is outside of Caraval, it was lost beneath it. Although this was not the main focus of the story it wasn’t very clear. We were told of kingdoms and islands but that was all that was given. As for magic, we were not clearly told if magic was only within Caraval, or throughout the world, if it was practised by many people or just a limited few. I would like to think this will be more clearly addressed within the next book, but perhaps it would have been smart of the author to have used our world, over a made up, undeveloped fantasy world.
PLOT- SLIGHTLY SPOILER SECTIONS
I honestly don’t even want to go here. The plot was so reliant on plot twist after plot twist, and by the end, it seemed everything was turned on its head and became overall, completely confusing. Scarlett throughout this scavenger-hunt so easily stumbled into clue after clue. Plot twists would reveal themselves, to then be completely wrong, everything you thought was real, wasn’t and soon I felt deceived, everything I had read was a ploy. I felt like I had just read a story that ended with the main character waking up from a dream. Yes, it was that disappointing.
Overal, I can’t say I would rule of Stephanie, Prahaps I might give the next book a chance after all this is a debt and there is still so much more room for improvement. Thus, don’t feel disheartened by my review, I can see this easily being a quick, enjoyable read, if you don’t give it too much thought.