The cover of this book is amazing. Can we just take a moment to appreciate it? It looks kind of simple, but seeing it up close is actually amazing. The star behind the title sparkles! I’m not here to rant, but it really is cool. Also, this is definitely not the reason that I read the book. I read it because I read some amazing reviews about it. Being part of the blogging world these past three months (that’s when I wrote this) has been amazing. I’m so happy that you enjoy my content and it’s been so much fun. But, every once in a while, it’s time to amp it up a little bit. I want to add something special to each review. Something that makes it pop. Each time it might be something different. Maybe I’ll draw something, cosplay as a character, create a playlist of music based on the theme… the ideas are endless! Anyway, enough with the blabbering! Let’s get on with this.
Author: Stephanie Garber
Age Group: Middle school and up – a lot of people can enjoy it
My Rating: 4/4 Stars
Synopsis: “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.”
The description of this book could never have prepared me. Let me say that this being the author’s debut novel, has me very impressed. It has a complicated plot and characters and an intriguing theme. If I were to use one word to describe this book, I would say complicated. I mean this completely as a compliment. I just finished reading it myself and I’m not even sure I fully understand all the details. It’s one of those books I can see myself reading more than once just to fully grasp everything, especially with the foreshadowing.
Perhaps I didn’t notice all the foreshadowing as it happened, but it was certainly there. I love foreshadowing in some ways. I like thinking back after reading, and saying ‘oh yeah! I see where that fit in! It all makes sense now!’ There’s a talented author at work when this happens. There’s also a point in some books where foreshadowing is used too much or too plainly. Books that have you guess the ending correctly can have a certain charm, or a moment of glory to think you figured it out, but I think it ends up being disappointing. The point of an exciting book is that you don’t know what will happen next; it’s what makes you keep reading. I barely put this book down at all. There were cliffhangers at pretty much every point, so it wasn’t easy to stop (you know for sleeping and stuff).
It really was complicated though. Everything was meticulously planned by the characters and everything at the end of the book left me with that nice feeling of ‘it all makes sense.’ Well, except perhaps the ending which is the biggest cliffhanger ever! Luckily, the author is currently writing the second installment in this soon-to-be series, which has got me very excited for 2018 (so close yet so far away). When I said that the characters had everything planned, that is very true, but I do wonder about the author. She is extremely talented and I wonder if she planned all of it out, or just went with it and refined the details later. Either way, she did a marvelous job.
There are a lot of big things to talk about with this book, like the theme (I’m getting to it). There’s one thing I can’t help but point out: Scarlet sees emotions. I’m serious. She sees them as colors. This is totally not a spoiler and has absolutely nothing to do with the plot at all, but I found it fascinating. I suppose that if you asked me I could say that emotions had colorful associations (like anger being red or sad being blue). Actually seeing colors is a whole different ballgame! I think this is the best example of how deeply the author understands her characters.
I won’t keep you waiting any longer for me to say something about the theme. When I say this, I don’t really mean a hidden moral in the story. I mean the general ‘feel’ of the story. It’s a mystery, but also full of fantasy (and a dash of romance, of course). I was reading this book, wondering why I loved it so much, and it suddenly occurred to me: almost every book you read can remind you of something else… like reading a book about wizards and seeing slight connections to Harry Potter. It’s not plagiarism I’m talking about, but just similarities in ideas. Caraval is such a unique idea and that’s why I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.
Here is a quote from the book, which I drew.