Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Caraval #1
Rating: 4 STARS
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.
“It took seven years to get the letter right.”
Yes, I did it! I finally read it! After months and months of seeing other people receiving ARCs and fangirling and falling in love with this book and talking endless praises and putting it on their “Best Books of 2016/2017” lists, I finally got the pleasure of reading this book. And, boy, was it just as amazing as everyone said it would be.
First off, the world-building. I absolutely adored it. I know there’s been comparisons drawn between this debut and The Night Circus, but I will say that the ways the two deal with circuses are vastly different, but equally amazing. While The Night Circus has more of a magical circus that captivates all, Caraval deals with more of a darker type of circus, one that can easily trick you and play with your mind. I loved how the world unfolded, especially concerning the Isle of Trisda, since you’re constantly doubting yourself and wondering if this is real or if it’s not, or if this person is actually here or if this person is actually betraying her, etc. It’s so brilliant, and I’m a huge fan of books where I’m constantly going, “What in the WORLD is going on?” and keeps me on my toes.
The flow of this book was perfect. I found it extremely addicting and I didn’t think there was one dull moment. There were twists and turns that made me gasp and kept me focused solely on the story and what was going to happen next, especially near the end where I just couldn’t stop reading. This book was so entertaining. The plot really helped the pacing move along, because the summary, thank God, doesn’t reveal too much, so you’re really going in slightly blind, which is what makes it so good. There’ll be so many things that you just won’t see coming.
And the characters! I loved Scarlett so much! She’s very different from the “badass leading lady” type that’s dominating a lot of YA, which isn’t a bad thing (I absolutely love some of those ladies) and she’s basically just a normal girl, stumbling through this twisty, magical world, trying to get her sister back. She’s one of those easily relatable protagonists that you’ll want to cheer for. And, of course, Julian, my newest book boyfriend. He’s just so sweet and kind and handsome and he cares about Scarlett so much, it’s absolutely adorable. Even though their relationship takes place over the course of five days, I still found it pretty realistic. Their romance didn’t feel forced or cheesy to me, and, in my opinion, I didn’t think it was insta-love since there wasn’t really a defining moment where they were outpouring their love for each other and it was met with trepidation, but it’s all up to interpretation, I guess.
Overall, I highly recommend this book, and I’m sure literally everyone else has, so if you haven’t read it already, you definitely must. Like, right now. Right now.
Feel free to chat about this book with me in the comments! Just make sure to mark your review as spoiler-y if you’re going to talk spoilers though!