Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval #1
Published by Flatiron Books
Published on January 31st 2017
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
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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.
I’m a little torn about how best to rate this book, as there was so much that I loved, but also enough that I didn’t. In other words, I was willing to overlook a thing or two to get to the 4-Star rating.
I’m going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible.
Here are a couple things I loved:
I absolutely adored the world of Caraval. It was so lush, and vibrant, and vivid; the world leaps right off the page, and fully immerses you into the intricacies of The Game. The imagery was very close to matching The Night Circus; and it had a magical quality similar to that story, too.
The Complexities of the Plot.
The blurb was enough to intrigue me, but the way the story came together was enough to enthrall me. I loved how well the story was woven together. It was twisted and alluring, all while being dark and dangerous. Overall, it was well-balanced throughout. I did have an issue with the pacing though, which I’ll detail below.
Now here are a couple of things I had issues with:
I won’t go into detail here as to not spoil, but know that I felt that the romantic progression was a little too swift, therefore feeling less genuine. I know that instalove tends to be commonplace in YA, but I felt like this book/story was strong enough on its own; the instalove element almost overshadowed the lushness of the story.
There was a time or two where I felt the pacing felt a little too rushed, and times when I felt things could’ve progressed faster. I’m such a stickler for pacing, that I very seldom find a book that is perfect in this regard. However, this book was pretty strong in all the other areas, that it almost negated my qualms with how imbalanced the pacing was at times. In other words, it seems almost inconsequential when looking at the bigger picture.
Overall, Caraval was greater than the sum of its parts.
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