Caraval

Stephanie Garber
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 . . . 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.Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-07-24

very intriguing! predictable in some ways and surprising in others. i enjoyed the twists and turns and characterization.

Reviewed: 2018-01-26
Oh, Caraval

I really, really, really wanted to like this book.  I was so excited when I got it in my OwlCrateback in February!  Everything everyone was saying about this book was sparklers and fireworks and spellbinding magic.  A lot of it still is!  There were certainly aspects of this book that I enjoyed, but overall, it just wasn’t for me.

Characters

I immediately disliked all of the characters.  I just couldn’t bring myself to care about any of them.  They were too flat and quickly changing for my tastes.  Dontella’s characterization was immediately selfish and foolish whereas Scarlett was so self-righteous and panicky.  I just… didn’t like them.  For me, that ruins a book quicker than anything else.

This, surely, is personal to me as a reader.  There are others who go into stories with other motives, but if I don’t like the characters, I usually don’t like the book.

World

❤︎

Caraval itself was interesting.  Stephanie Garber uses a lot of flowery imagery, and some of her word choices are lovely, but unfortunately, she uses this mostly to describe the men in the book and not the universe of it.  I didn’t start getting a visual sense of Caraval until easily over the halfway point.  Once I did, I found the illusory world very interesting, and wished that there was more interaction with it.

Story

❤︎

This story was about Scarlett running around like a chicken with her head cut off, stumbling into the right answers, and whining about needing to leave to get to her wedding on time.  Moreover, all the twists I was looking for didn’t happen, and the fact they didn’t happen was explained away as something far less scandalous and interesting.  Everything felt really disjointed, and put simply, I was BORED.  I feel like Garber had a really excellent idea here with the Caravel itself, but there was FAR too little Caraval-ing and far too much swooning and running-away-from-dad.  But she gets a star for the CONCEPT, because like I said – cool idea.

Writing / Narration

NOOOoooooo.  If you like pretty, flowy prose and need no semblance of plot, then this book is probably for you.  I happen to like pretty prose, but REQUIRE plot.  Also, the sunshine and daffodils of her writing were entirely focused on two items:  Julian’s attractive manly features, and Scarlett’s dresses.  I am 100% confident that she could have evened out the writing a bit and done better.

Also, repeatedly, “their mother, Paloma, abandoned them”?  I got it the first three times, thanks.  And she wasn’t very relevant to this book, either.  I understand that Garber is trying to garner reader interest in this disappearance for an upcoming plot, but obvious much?

Personal Thoughts

I just didn’t like it.  I know a lot of people do, and I can see why:  there’s romance and Victorian dresses and private islands with mind games and fortune tellers – the works.  Disliking the characters and finding the plot too flighty were my main issues with this book, but it’s definitely the sort of thing that would appeal to other readers.

I will probably pick up the second book, but not in a hurry, and I wouldn’t buy it.

Reviewed: 2017-12-07
Initial Impressions 11/14/16: 3.5 stars
Oh yay, another black sheep moment. This one didn't really work for me and I know a lot of that was a personal preference. It had a Wonderland sort of feel in the sense that everything was so whimsical and Caraval kind of didn't have any rules. When I'm in a fantasy setting, I really do need rules so that was a bit much to really reach and understand how the magic worked.

I was actually disappointed with the sister relationship. They did care for each other more than anything and yet it still felt very surface level for me. I felt like it could have gone much deeper with details and history and special moments instead of them immediately being separated and the readers being told they have a special bond instead of really witnessing it.

I also had a very hard time with their father's abusive actions. I felt like there could have been so many reasons why they wanted to escape their father and their island and I didn't feel the physical abuse was necessary. It really turned me off.

I did love Julian and his interactions with Scarlett (the nickname thing was actually very cute and he was very suave).

It was a quick and entertaining read but I'm not really sure if I want continue the series yet. I wasn't a huge fan of the writing - it definitely did feel young - so I may see if other continue who had similar feelings.

Full review as originally posted HERE on 1/20/17: Welllllll it’s another black sheep moment. CARAVAL didn’t really work for me and I know a lot of that was a personal preference. It had a Wonderland sort of feel in the sense that everything was so whimsical and Caraval itself kind of didn’t have any rules. Well, I should say that there definitely was a rule set but it was one of those fantasy situations where the characters find them out whenever something happens, so it really seems like there aren’t any rules until something happens. Really it’s just a matter of personal preference — when I’m in a fantasy setting, I really do need rules so I feel like I understand the structure of a setting and that was a bit much to really reach and understand how the magic worked.

I love books with a strong sibling aspect but I was actually disappointed with the sister relationship. They did care for each other more than anything and yet it still felt very surface level for me and that the reader was told how much the sisters loved each other and aside from the grand gesture, I didn’t really feel it. I felt like it could have gone much deeper with things like details, history, and special moments instead of them immediately being separated and the readers being told they have a special bond instead of really witnessing it.

This is maybe a mild spoiler but also happens very early on in the book so really not… But I also had a very hard time with their father’s abusive actions. I felt like there could have been so many reasons these sisters wanted to escape their father and their island and I didn’t feel the physical abuse was necessary. It was mean and nasty and the reasoning for everything really didn’t sit right with me. Surprisingly, this was a really big turn off for me, especially since it was the entire motivation of the book. It just felt a little too super-villain for me and I had a hard time seeing the father as a legitimate character. He seemed more like a caricature and not a realistic character.

I did love Julian and his interactions with Scarlett (the nickname thing was actually very cute, which sometimes doesn’t go well) and he was very suave. The romance was complicated and interesting and I loved the chemistry between Scarlett and Julian. That was something that was really great and consistent throughout the book for me!

CARAVAL was a quick and entertaining read but I’m not really sure if I want continue the series as of right now. I really wasn’t a huge fan of the writing because it definitely did feel young to me. I may see if others who had similar feelings ended up enjoying the sequel once the time comes. Really when it came down to it, I felt like CARAVAL had several places to really shine and it all kind of fell flat for me. The setting was very vivid, but didn’t feel structured. The ending was very lacking and could have happened so differently, felt like an “easy” way out of the conflict, and left me rather disappointed. Most of the characters felt underdeveloped. Most of it just didn’t quite click for me and the vivid descriptions just weren’t enough to dazzle me to make me overlook the things that I was missing.
Reviewed: 2017-11-16
It's her debut?
Unbelievable.
This book is so well-written,the author has woven a charming,adventurous,magical world with some great character building.
I felt lucky to be reading this awesome fantasy novel,loved it to the core.
Eagerly waiting for the sequel.Thank God there's one!
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