Caraval, by Stephanie Garber

caravalNote: I’m just back from vacation and have a couple backlogged reviews. I’ll be back to the blog in a more substantial way this weekend. In the meantime…

From Goodreads: 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.

You know how sometimes you come across a book that you really think you should like? That you keep reading because something keeps making you hang on, while at the same time so many things are bugging you? And in the end, you wish you’d just stopped reading because it would have been better not to need to review a book in that condition? Yeah. That.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Caraval, and I’ve heard a lot of comparisons to one of my favorite books ever, The Night Circus. To get that out of the way immediately, let me just say that this book was not at all like The Night Circus in my opinion. Yes, the Caraval games take place at night, but that’s literally the only similarity. I recognized that quickly, though, and so I didn’t find the book disappointing because it wasn’t a second Night Circus.

Honestly, I couldn’t say why exactly the book didn’t work for me. There was something about it that felt young. Not as in, this is YA and so it feels young, but that the characters, world, magic, writing, mysteries, all of it felt like the bones of a really great story when I wanted a lot more of the meat. The thing is, I don’t think it was a bad book at all – I just know it wasn’t the book for me, and I don’t think it would have been had I read it at another time, in another mood, etc. The story was enticing enough to keep me reading, though I knew from the first couple pages that it wouldn’t work out in the end. I kept thinking maybe something would change, that the world would get deeper or richer, and I’d be swept away. The magic left me untouched, though. Ah well.

About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
This entry was posted in 2017, Prose, Young Adult and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Caraval, by Stephanie Garber

  1. Kailana says:

    I will be curious to see what I think of this book when I get a chance to read it. I do have it, but still not really reading. Hope you had a great vacation!


  2. Kristen M. says:

    I used to pick up books based on statements that they were similar to some of my favorites but now I instead tend to avoid those ones. There’s almost zero chance of something being able to live up to a book like The Night Circus so I would have chosen to skip this one anyway.


    • Amanda says:

      I’m usually very leery of books that compare to my favorites, especially when they compare the writing to favorite authors. But this one had received so many good reviews from trusted blogger friends, outside the comparison to the Night Circus, and then in reading it, it kinda felt like Night Circus fanfic…


  3. Michelle says:

    I wondered about this. I agree that there is something “young” about it. I attributed that feeling Scarlett. She was a BIT too whiny and weak for my taste. I still loved the story, but her complaints don’t necessarily jive with her actions throughout the story – if that makes sense.


  4. kay says:

    I just finished this one yesterday and I agree. This felt a bit young but I also found the world not to be very fleshed out. I don’t know… I don’t think I’ll want to read more.


    • Amanda says:

      Yeah, I can’t imagine reading any further either. Especially if I continued to feel this lukewarm. I really don’t like posting reviews like these!


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