Caraval by Stephanie Garber
The Skinny: 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. -From Goodreads
BFF?: While I truly loved Scarlett and enjoyed getting to know her, she seemed a bit… bland. Not that she was a poorly written character; quite the opposite in fact! She was just very vanilla. Luckily I like vanilla because you can always add sprinkles to it. Scarlett, being the oldest, definitely fell prey to first born syndrome, which means we sacrifice ourselves so our younger siblings can be safe/happy/loved/whatever, regardless of those younger siblings being ungrateful little such and suchs. I think that’s what made Scarlett so interesting. Her whole point in everything about Caraval was centered around her sister. Even her visit there was centered around her sister. It was exciting to see her waiver from focusing on her sister and start focusing on herself. I loved seeing her flip-flop between enjoying herself and wanting to save her sister.
Readability: It’s been SUCH a long time that I got so absorbed into a book that I wanted to skip everything else in my life to read it. That’s how I felt about Caraval. I was absolutely lost in it, in its lush writing that almost had a lyrical sense about it. I’ve realized as a reader I have a hard time with overly descriptive books or books that have long periods with no dialogs. Not so with Caraval. The writing hooked me from start to finish. I found myself rereading passages just to enjoy the scenery once more.
Crush Level: 8
Bless. I was not expecting to fall for Julian but I did! I know that in real life mysterious men are bad news. I’m convinced good men do not hide secrets and if they do chances are those secrets will only hurt you. Good men are upfront and honest with you. Good men don’t lie to you or lead you on or keep secrets. You know what, JULIAN? You’re getting downgraded to a 4. Stupid jerk.*
*Julian was an awesome character. He really, really was. Despite his shortcomings, because who of us doesn’t have those, he had a good heart and really cared for Scarlett.**
Escape the Room
I love a good escape the room game! While Caraval wasn’t QUITE that, I thought it had a lot of those elements. Having to find clues, figure out how to use those clues, thinking… Was very exciting exploring Caraval!
I typically DON’T like characters I can’t trust (coughJuliancough), and while Caraval is filled with them, I actually liked the vast majority of the people I met. I loved how everyone in Caraval kept me guessing and constantly surprised me!
Scarlett has this dress inside Caraval that magically changes to fit the mood. I won’t say more, but man…. I could use one of those!
Commencement Speech: Having not read The Night Circus and not really feeling like I NEED to, I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to pick up the book that everyone kept saying was the next Night Circus. But I caved and ERMAGASH I’m so glad I did! Why do I do that? Why do I fight reading stuff? I always lose.
Caraval was exquisite. I gobbled it up and needed more immediately after. Honestly, when I closed the book I had to just sit back and close my eyes. It was THAT good y’all. It also took me a little while to process just what I thought of it. I’m still not 100% sure what I thought of it because I’m still hanging on to the high it gave me.
Okay, enough fluff talk. The book is good. It’s unique but not OUT THERE. The scene setting is imaginative and puts you right in the middle of everything. Fresh characters are on every page and by the end of the book you feel like you too are one of the Caraval players and these people are your closest friends or rivals. Some things you may get, some you may have to think hard on, and some surprise you out of nowhere.
If you’re on the fence about this one, don’t be. It really is worth the read and I cannot do it any justice with my review. Just read it. 🙂
Yearbook Quote: “The future knows what things we desire, unless there is something greater in our path that chases us away.”
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