Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy  

Publishing Info: KindleEdition, January 2017 by Hodder and Stoughton

Pages: 416

Star Rating: 2/5

Back Cover Summary:

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.

I was very conflicted over how to rate and review this book. I’ve had Caraval on my Kindle for a little while and was excited to finally get round to reading it. So many people love this series and the concept sounded really intriguing. Unfortunately I didn’t love it from the start. I didn’t enjoy the first half all that much, but things picked up in the second half and I found myself a lot more absorbed.

I can’t quite place my finger on why, but for some reason I just wasn’t hooked from the opening few chapters. Even once Scarlett reached Caraval, I didn’t feel engaged. I was expected to be enchanted by this story, but in the first half I was actually a little bored. I found Scarlet to be an irritating protagonist at the start. Her thoughts were very repetitive and I just didn’t connect with her character. She didn’t want to be there. So I didn’t want to be there. I think if Scarlett had been more excited about the magic and wonder of Caraval, I would have been too.

Scarlett’s focus is on finding Tella and there is some jeopardy around that, but we don’t get to know Tella that well at the beginning of the book, so I wasn’t really invested in the goal of finding her. I liked that she isn’t the cliché sweet sister, but I didn’t find her particularly likeable from what little we see of her before she disappears, so I just wasn’t worried about her. Later we do get to see there is more to Tella, but for most of the book I didn’t like her character.

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Top 5 Tuesday: Popular Books I Haven’t Read Yet

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bionic Book Worm. This week’s topic is all about popular books I haven’t read yet. There are a lot! Here are five that stand out as ones that I really want to read!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – I haven’t read this book yet because I don’t read much contemporary. I’m much more of a sci-fi and fantasy kind of person. But I do every now and then like getting away from fantasy and reading a bit of contemporary. So I will read this book. I have it on my shelf. I’m just waiting for the contemporary mood to strike me.

Red Queen Victoria Aveyard – I think this book has been haunting my Kindle. It’s been on there for years. I wanted to read this book so much when it first came out, but it’s one of those that I just still haven’t got round to reading.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber – This series is really popular! I have it on my Kindle and as it happens I’m planning to read it next. There have just been so many amazing YA fantasy releases over the last few years that I feel like I’m still playing catch up with them.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer – This is another book that has unfortunately been on my Kindle quite a while. A sci-fi fairy tale retelling sounds right up my street. I know there’s a lot of love for this series. I will read this book soon…

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – The blurb says this series is inspired by Ancient Rome which sounds really interesting and it’s had such good reviews. I definitely want to read this book.  

Are there any popular books you haven’t read yet but plan to? Let me know in the comments!