Author: Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval #1
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Romance
Publication Date: January 31, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
Synopsis: Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. 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.
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The hype behind Caraval was unreal. It had taken over the book industry; bloggers would swear by its epicness, movie deals were being made before the release. My expectations went through the roof and I think that’s what made me give this book 4 stars instead of 5. Although, the book was really good, it didn’t blow my socks off. I guess I was just waiting for something that would change my life and alas, this didn’t.
Everyone’s been comparing Caraval to The Night Circus, but I’ve never read it. Instead, Caraval reminded me of a Young Adult version of the movie The Game (one of my favorites), just with magic and more romance. You don’t know what is real and what is part of the game (if there really is a game). You can’t tell who’s lying or who’s bad. Some of my guesses were right and some were wrong, which I loved. This book is far from predictable and any book filled with staggering twists is a winner in my book (ha!).
I can’t explain much about the book, otherwise it would ruin it for others, but I enjoyed reading Caraval. Julian, the love interest, was mysterious and charming. Scarlette’s loyalty to her sister was a major theme. Her transformation throughout the book was gradual and impressive. The ending left me wanting more so I’ll definitely be reading the sequel when it’s released.
Did I like Caraval? Yes. Did it blow my socks off like I expected it to? Not really. Then again, this may be due to the substantially high expectations I had after reading all the hype surrounding this book. Overall, it wasn’t bad and I’ll look out for the next installment.
Stephanie Garber grew up in northern California, where she was often compared to Anne Shirley, Jo March, and other fictional characters with wild imaginations and stubborn streaks. When she’s not writing, Stephanie teaches creative writing, and dreams of her next adventure.