Book Reviews

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Hello everyone! With the recent social isolation, I’ve found a bit more time to do some extra reading. Unfortunately, the local library is closed, so I thought that I would read some books that I currently own! I do have a couple I haven’t read yet, but I really wanted to reread the Caraval series (which I’ve read about 1-2 times in the past). I remember loving this book so much, and it definitely held up! It’s such a magical book with a beautiful world and I’m so happy I got to experience it again.

This book focuses on the latest game of Caraval, the magical game with the prize of one wish. Both Scarlett and Tella have been invited as guests, with Julian tagging along playing the role of Scarlett’s fiance. Every year, the instructions are different, but in this year’s game, Tella disappears and participants must find her to win the prize.

I absolutely love the world-building in this book! Just reading about it made me want to jump into the world of Caraval and experience it all for myself. I love being able to imagine everything about the book, from the landscaping to the shops. Everything was described in such a vivid way, and it was really easy for me to picture it inside of my head.

My favorite part of the book though was the concept. The idea of having a game like Caraval is really interesting, and it worked out. I liked that the exchanges in the shops required secrets or time, and it made the story even more interesting. It really adds to the fact that “secrets and time are valuable” and it makes it more real. This structure also helps to reveal more about Scarlett, and it helped me learn a lot more about her as a character. The questions about her fears, what she wants, and even her thoughts on Julian helped enhance her as a character. It was interesting to learn that while her sister being in trouble is her greatest fear, rescuing her sister isn’t really her biggest “want”.

I also loved the letter format at the beginning of the book! I haven’t seen that too much in YA, and I thought that it was a really creative way to introduce the story. I always enjoy looking through different illustrations (maps have to be my favorite) and it gave the book a really creative, personal touch.

While I did like the book, I felt like the relationship between Scarlett and Julian was a bit rushed and predictable. I mean, right from the beginning of the story, you can tell that they’re going to fall in love with each other. Everything is just so sudden and it’s not too realistic. Their relationship was developed from looks and I wish that there was a little more connection between them before they started falling in love. Scarlett also makes a huge deal out of liking Julian and she’s constantly embarrassed by this fact. I just thought that it was kind of awkward to read about her constantly denying her attraction to him.

The book also does not go into enough detail about the side characters like Tella or Legend. I will forgive it just because this is a reread and I know that it does cover it in the last two books, but I would have liked to see more of that. The entire book revolved around Tella not being there, despite how relevant she is to the entire plot of the story. I wanted to see more of her interacting with her sister and their bond, which I didn’t get much of. I’d say that the entire book focuses on Scarlett and Julian, and I wish there was a little more variety.

Overall, while there are a couple things I didn’t like, it was still a great book. I’m glad I pulled it out of my bookshelf to reread and I’m excited to continue on with Legendary and Finale! I’m also glad that I don’t remember too much of the plot so that I can be more surprised.

Happy reading to all of you!

-Allison

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