Caraval by Stephanie Garber ★★★½
“Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.”
I listened to the Caraval audiobook narrated by Rebecca Soler.
I immediately got sucked into this story. Caraval is such a magical world and I got swept away in this epic adventure. I hadn't finished the book but was already writing this review. I loved Caraval so much, everything about it was wonderful and then came the end. Oh what a disappointing ending. I'll explain everything down below.
The story is about two sisters. 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.
It is quite difficult to review this one because I loved everything about this novel except the ending but the ending is so important to the story.
The world was absolutely magical. Garber described the scenes and elements so well. The story of Caraval felt real and it was like I was actually there! Wandering the streets of Caraval. However, there is a lot of magic in this story that Garber fails to explain. It's unclear how these magical things work in her world. The author succeeds in pulling me in and keeping my attention, but the moment I want to know more about this magic and how everything works I get left hanging. It happens a few time. There's never really any kind of reasoning behind it. Garber just shrugs it off and say 'it's magic'. I could see the world Garber created and it was beautiful.
I liked most of these characters. I fell in love with Scarlett and Julian separately and as a duo. Scarlett is this innocent girl and has no clue as to what is real and what isn't. Julian is the though guy who seems to know everything and is very mysterious. I enjoyed following these two around. Their connection didn't feel forced or anything. It felt natural and swept me off my feet. There were a lot of other interesting characters but you only get a glimpse of them in Caraval. I do look forward to get to know more of these personas in the next book in this series Legendary.
Garber used a lot of metaphors in Caraval. There are barely any sentences that aren't filled with them. It personally didn't bother me that much because I listened to the audiobook, but I can imagine it being annoying while reading the book. The author wants to make this novel as magical as she can by creating all these metaphors and describing everything as extra as she possibly can.
Now as I said, I was writing this review but still had five chapters left. I fell in love with this book and was really excited to find out what would happen in the next two books. But then the ending came and I just got annoyed. It felt like everything the author wrote and the whole perfect storyline was a lie. Garber tried to change the beautiful story she'd written in the last few chapters. Everything we knew was false, the three characters who died are magically alive again. Two of them don't even get an explanation as to how it's possible they're alive again. You experience this journey through the eyes of he main character Scarlett and I just felt sorry for her at the end. She had been through so much and in the last two chapters she learns that nothing was real and they have a party? They are having a party!! After five days of horror, after everything she has seen and experienced they throw a party and Scarlett has to act like everything is okay. The ending was just lacking. All the interesting twists Garber created were destroyed at the end. I am not a fan of reviving characters you've killed especially not if you can't give a good explanation to it.
Would I recommend this book? Yes I think I would. I mean I enjoyed every second of this magical ride except for the ending. Looking at Caraval as a whole, there are more elements I liked than ones I didn't like. I will definitely read the other two books in this series. I hope I will have the same feeling I had throughout this book in Legendary as well.
Stephanie Garber is the #1 New York Times bestselling and international bestselling author of THE CARAVAL SERIES, which has been translated in over 30 languages.
When she’s not writing, she teaches creative writing at a private college in Northern California, where she’s been known to turn assignments into games and take students on field trips that involve book signings. Now that her dream of becoming a published author has come true, her new dream is to visit Club 33 at Disneyland.