[I am currently on holidays until the end of August, I’ll be replying to you all, blog-hopping again and everything then! Thank you for understanding, love you all!]
There are no spoilers in this review.
Back at the beginning of the year, Caraval was on everyone’s most anticipated lists. Everyone read it, everyone praised it and loved it and reviewed it. If you know me a little bit, you know that I am one of the bloggers forever late to the hype, meaning I buy books a gazillion years after everyone. If I’m being honest, I didn’t even know if I would read Caraval or not. In the end, I’m glad I finally gave this book a chance.
AN UNIQUE WORLD-BUILDING
“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.”
There is a whole, different and quite unique concept at the heart of Caraval: this game, taking place on a remote island, filled with performers, a big mystery to solve and a magical price to gain. This year’s price is a wish, and this year’s issue to solve is finding Tess, Scarlet’s sister. If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect this when I started reading and I was pleasantly surprised: I thought it would just be some kind of magical event with tricks and performers, yet it was more like a giant murder mystery game taking place in…well, a city-sized thing, with its little canals and boats, with its castles and small houses, with its magical shops and people. The whole concept and world-building surrounding Caraval was, without a doubt, one of the most interesting thing about the book: trying to decipher right from wrong in a strange place, filled with clues and magic dresses and performers. I really, really loved it.
GREAT CHARACTERS, BUT CONNECTION MISSING
“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”
Then the characters come into sight, and everything gets a little bit…well, I felt a bit less enthusiastic about the main character of this story, Scarlet. If I was rooting for her, obviously, to find her sister, I found myself a bit distanced from her as a whole and didn’t feel for her as much as I would have liked to. I really enjoyed her partner in this game, Julian, more and more as we got to know him a little better, but, just like Scarlet, I didn’t feel entirely satisfied: I felt like there was a bit of a lack of development or maybe connection, something to make me really feel for the characters, like I am always looking forward to in books. It’s probably just an “it’s not you, it’s me” kind of situation, though.
At the heart of the book is, obviously, the sisters relationship between Scarlet and Tessa. If you know me a little bit by now, you know how much I love and care for siblings relationships in books, so I was eagerly waiting to explore that one and fall in love with its complications and dynamics. I loved how both would take the fall for the other and I loved how close they were to each other…at least, how it was told to us in the book, because for some reason in the story I didn’t found that it really showed, especially when Scarlet was in the game. I would have to say the same thing for the romantic relationships within the story: if I could see it unfold, develop in front of my very eyes and if, by simply reading the book, I could figure out that their feelings changed, grew and turned into something romantic for the characters, I didn’t really feel the chemistry, which was a shame because I wanted to root for the characters a little bit more.
It sounds like Caraval was a bad book, from what I wrote here, but I didn’t think so. It was a good, entertaining story, with an original intrigue at its heart. With a little bit more of dimension given to the characters and their relationships, I think I might have fallen in love with it a bit more, but I still had a great time reading it. Also, the writing style got me hooked from the beginning, even if sometimes I felt like it was trying too hard to be poetic and speak to our senses – this didn’t work for me, unfortunately. ALL of that being said, I still found it to be a fast-paced read, filled with plot-twists and a little bit of magic, something definitely nice to spend an afternoon with.
Final rating: 3 drops!
Trigger warnings: suicide, violence, domestic abuse, kidnapping.
Do you want to read Caraval? Do you read hyped books or end up avoiding them like the plague? Share your thoughts in comments!
Stephanie Garber, Caraval, Published by Flatiron Books, January 31st 2017.
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.