Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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You know what they say about hypes: either they live up to what’s being said or they disappoint you with the reality.

There’s a lot of hype surrounding CARAVAL. When you read the reviews in Amazon, there are lots of positive reviews. I agree with most of them–the magic, the fantasy, the beautiful scenery and stuff in Caraval (the game)–it’s hard not to get swept away. The twists and turns are compelling; with each new layer peeled away, each new revelation, you’ll go “wow”, “oh!” and the truth–or what you know as truth–is turned upside-down and you get to see things differently.

However, for me, one of the biggest factors in what makes or breaks the story is the protagonist/s or the main character/s. Scarlett for me is the weakest link in this story. Aside from her love and care for her sister Donatella, there’s nothing admirable about Scarlett. She’s not the brightest bulb in the room, she’s stupid about a lot of things, and the last straw came toward near the end where she touched the pocket watch that Julian had given her, knowing how important it was not to show her hand. She’s a pawn in the entire game, and she didn’t even know it. Her vision is so narrow–to save her sister–that she can’t cast it wider to see how she could win the game in another way. When the revelations came at the end, again, I was left with the feeling that she’s a pawn.

And she is.

And she can’t even be angry at the person who machinated it all, when at the slightest doubt, she’d lit into Julian.

Sure, this is a book about sisters, but until the end, I don’t see why or how Scarlett could love her sister so much as to sacrifice everything for her, because there was nothing lovable about Donatella. I guess, what I’m saying here, is not that this is not impossible–that a sister could love her sibling so much as to do anything for her. But as a reader, give me a reason to see and feel what Scarlett is feeling at the start of the book–that aside from what she feels is her duty and responsibility to her sister, show me why and how she could love her sister so much.

Overall, read it for the magic and the fantasy and the plot twists.

Rating:3 stars

Get it now from Amazon

Summary:

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.

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