Posted on August 8, 2017 in Reviews / 10 Comments

Caraval – #BookReview

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Hardcover

Published by Flatiron Books on January 31st 2017
Series: Caraval #1
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Length: 407 pages Source: OwlCrate

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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.


Oh, Caraval

I really, really, really wanted to like this book.  I was so excited when I got it in my OwlCrate back in February!  Everything everyone was saying about this book was sparklers and fireworks and spellbinding magic.  A lot of it still is!  There were certainly aspects of this book that I enjoyed, but overall, it just wasn’t for me.

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Characters

I immediately disliked all of the characters.  I just couldn’t bring myself to care about any of them.  They were too flat and quickly changing for my tastes.  Dontella’s characterization was immediately selfish and foolish whereas Scarlett was so self-righteous and panicky.  I just… didn’t like them.  For me, that ruins a book quicker than anything else.

This, surely, is personal to me as a reader.  There are others who go into stories with other motives, but if I don’t like the characters, I usually don’t like the book.

World

❤︎

Caraval itself was interesting.  Stephanie Garber uses a lot of flowery imagery, and some of her word choices are lovely, but unfortunately, she uses this mostly to describe the men in the book and not the universe of it.  I didn’t start getting a visual sense of Caraval until easily over the halfway point.  Once I did, I found the illusory world very interesting, and wished that there was more interaction with it.

Story

❤︎

This story was about Scarlett running around like a chicken with her head cut off, stumbling into the right answers, and whining about needing to leave to get to her wedding on time.  Moreover, all the twists I was looking for didn’t happen, and the fact they didn’t happen was explained away as something far less scandalous and interesting.  Everything felt really disjointed, and put simply, I was BORED.  I feel like Garber had a really excellent idea here with the Caravel itself, but there was FAR too little Caraval-ing and far too much swooning and running-away-from-dad.  But she gets a star for the CONCEPT, because like I said – cool idea.

Writing / Narration

NOOOoooooo.  If you like pretty, flowy prose and need no semblance of plot, then this book is probably for you.  I happen to like pretty prose, but REQUIRE plot.  Also, the sunshine and daffodils of her writing were entirely focused on two items:  Julian’s attractive manly features, and Scarlett’s dresses.  I am 100% confident that she could have evened out the writing a bit and done better.

Also, repeatedly, “their mother, Paloma, abandoned them”?  I got it the first three times, thanks.  And she wasn’t very relevant to this book, either.  I understand that Garber is trying to garner reader interest in this disappearance for an upcoming plot, but obvious much?

Personal Thoughts

I just didn’t like it.  I know a lot of people do, and I can see why:  there’s romance and Victorian dresses and private islands with mind games and fortune tellers – the works.  Disliking the characters and finding the plot too flighty were my main issues with this book, but it’s definitely the sort of thing that would appeal to other readers.

I will probably pick up the second book, but not in a hurry, and I wouldn’t buy it.

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The Breakdown
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Setting
Cover
Personal Enjoyment
Overall:

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Favorite Quotes

“Hope is a powerful thing. Some say it’s a different breed of magic altogether. Elusive, difficult to hold on to. But not much is needed.”

“He tasted like midnight and wind, and shades of rich brown and light blue. Colors that made her feel safe and guarded.”

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My Photos

   

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Books I’d Recommend

If you’re looking for another book with magic and festivals, might I suggest Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody or The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern?  For something a little more twisted and a little more mature, Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton would do as well.  For an innocent tale of sisterly love and rescue, The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine is one of my childhood favorites.

daughteroftheburningcity   The Night Circus   Circus of the Damned   The Two Princesses of Bamarre

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About Stephanie Garber

I’m the international and New York Times bestselling author of Caraval.

When I’m not writing, I teach creative writing at a private college in Northern California, where I’ve been known to turn assignments into games and take students on field trips that involve book signings.

To help pay my bills during college, grad school, and the breaks in between, I worked as a barista, a waitress, a bartender, a customer service representative for an energy consulting company, and as a sales girl at Bath and Bodyworks. I also spent years working with youth; I worked as a counselor at space themed summer camp, volunteered at a school for deaf children in Mexico, and I took multiple groups of college students overseas to spend their winter vacations serving at youth hostels in Amsterdam. But out of everything that I’ve done, writing young adult novels has been my favorite job.

Read more on her website.

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10 responses to “Caraval – #BookReview

  1. Em

    I literally had the exact same feelings about this book. I didn’t like the characters or the story at all…. But those covers!!! Why/how are they so darn pretty?

  2. HAHAHAHA
    I did like this book a lot actually! But I have to agree that it did feel a bit like a chicken running around headless XD But I was okay with that, somehow haha
    AND my theory continues: EVERYONE I know who has loved The Night Circus has either hated or disliked Caraval, and vice versa. I didn’t enjoy the Night Circus really at all, but I enjoyed Caraval a lot!!

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