Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Year Published: 2017
Synopsis: 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. (Goodreads).
Things I Liked
- I really enjoyed the descriptions that stemmed from Scarlett feeling everything in color. At times, it could be a bit much but overall it was done really well. This is the first book that I’ve read that has a character who has synesthesia.
- Plot Twists: The entire book was plot twist on top of plot twist. Usually when I’m reading books I can kind of figure out what a plot twist might be, yet Garber kept me guessing right until the end. Literally the end.
- “Remember, it’s only a game…”: This statement was the directions given to Scarlett upon entering the game. I found I had to keep reminding myself about this.
Things I Didn’t Like
- The Ending: I can’t say much without spoiling the book but do know that there is going to be a sequel. I was left with WAY too many questions about the characters, Legend, and The Game. Book 2 is coming, I know, but I finished reading and my literal response was, “Wait. What?”
- Scarlett and Tella’s Father: I’m not giving anything away by saying that he was a horrible man, it’s obvious from about page 2. Personally as someone who has a minor in psychology, I found myself wanting to know more about why he is the way he is. This will probably be explained more in the second book, however I was left unsatisfied.
- Insta-love: The majority of the time I am not a fan of insta-love. It’s not realistic and in this case, it was especially unrealistic. I can understand why it happened and why Garber added this aspect, yet I’m left with reservations. Wouldn’t being treated terrible affect you in such a manner that you were wary of attention, wary of advances? Just my thought, I guess it could go one of two ways: gravitation towards or being wary.
“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”
“She imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out.”
“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”
“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.”
“No one is truly honest. Even if we don’t lie to others, we often lie to ourselves. And the word good means different things to different people.”
All of my qualms with having too many unanswered questions aside, I really did enjoy reading Caraval. I’ve heard a lot of people compare it to Night Circus by Eric Morgenstern. (which I haven’t read yet) and state that it was nowhere near what they expected it to be. I think a lot of that had to do with the book community and the hype that surrounded this book. It was a solid four star read, but it left a few things to be desired for me as a reader. I will definitely be picking up Caraval #2 (title unknown) when it’s released!
If anyone else was left with burning questions after finishing Caraval, let me know! I’d love to chat with you about what you thought.