Caraval by Stephanie Garber
“Hope is a powerful thing. Some say it’s a different breed of magic altogether. Elusive, difficult to hold on to. But not much is needed.”
Caraval is many times compared to The Night Circus, the whimsical tale of Celia and Marco. If you enter this book believing it is anything like the Night Circus you will be extremely disappointed. If you don't, you might enjoy it. I read this book extremely excited and intrigued for the hype it had and how wonderful the cover and the blurb seemed. However, I knew no circus story or magic story could reach the beauty of the Night Circus.
I enjoyed this book a lot, I wasn't disappointed as I saw some people were. However, it is not the best book I have ever read there was a lot of space for improvement and lots of empty space too that could have been solved with a few simple extra lines.
Caraval tells the story of two sisters Scarlett and Donatella Dragna, both raised by their brutal father who punishes them and bullies them they are in desperate need to find a way out. Caraval is supposed to be this game created by Legend, an evil master of ceremony basically, where people play and at the end they win a prize. However, there are many deceptions throughout the game and people can go mad or die. Scar has always been infatuated with the idea of playing, so she wrote letters to Legend every year. Until she stops because her father engaged her to some count she doesn't know. That year Legend sends her an invite inviting her and her sister and the possible fiancee to act as specials guests in this years Caraval. The price: a wish. However, everything turns turbulent as Tells is kidnapped and she has to rely on Julian. A sailor, a possible liar and a very beautiful human being to both find a way out and find her sister on time, however she didn't imagine she was going to fall in love. As many clues lead to her sister they also lead to many deaths (real or not real?) and to many lies that break Scar's heart.
The writing is good and the plot is really good too, I was hooked from the beginning and couldn't stop reading. However, what is wrong with this book?
1) The setting: Scar and Tells live in The Conquered Isle of Trisda. Caraval happens in La Isla de los Sueños. There are governors and colonies and places that appear with no explanation. A simple backstory of where they are situated and how the world around them is would make me a little less mad. The setting in Caraval is also very dubious, we don't really know what is real and what isn't and it keeps changing.
2) The lies: I said the plot was amazing, yet the ending and the explanation at the end for everything was not. It was simply all a lie. Everyone was an actor, there wasn't really any extremely real magic and nothing (most of it) wasn't how it seemed. That made me furious because you spend the entire book believing something then its not true and then that other plot twist is not true again. The lies got out a little out of hand.
3) The main character: I liked Scarlett, however I didn't love her and since most of the story is set in her point of view and you see Caraval through her eyes I got frustrated from time to time. She was a prude and I didn't enjoy how scared and flimsy she was about everything. Everything was a big deal and I just didn't see her evolve as I would have liked. I did fall in love with Julian and I would have liked to see more of him.
At the end of the day I did enjoy reading Caraval and I can't wait to read the next one, I do hope some of the flaws this book has gets resolved in the sequel.
---- 4 stars ----