Genre: Young Adult Historical Fantasy
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publication: January 31st 2017
Cover Rating: 100/5
I keep telling myself, Jenn, you need to sit your ass down and form coherent thoughts so that you can write a review for Caraval. But all I hear is, 'You should barricade yourself in the house and read Caraval over and over'. Oh, I'm sorry, what was I saying? Ah, yes, this book is set in a world that feels like The Wizard of Oz Mixed with Alice in Wonderland but a little darker. So, basically, if Marissa Meyer were to write a retelling mixing the two worlds, that is what this book feels like to me.
We start off on this little island where our main characters, Scarlett and Tella, reside. Scarlett is the protagonist and we experience this book through her eyes. I disliked Scarlett for most of the book. As soon as you get to Caraval, the contestants are told that everything is only a game. Don't believe what you see. Scarlett does exactly the opposite. She takes everything at face value but I would have loved to see Scarlett be a bit more laid back and involved in the game. If there was a picture next to the word RESERVED in the dictionary, there would be a big old picture of Scarlett.
Where Scarlett is super reserved and indecisive, her sister, Tella, is her opposite, almost to the extreme. Tella wants to run around with guys and defy her tyrant of a father. That's all fine and dandy but for every horrible choice Tella makes, her sister will always be the one who suffers a punishment. Tella knows this, but she still continues to be the way she is. I don't think she realized that she doesn't deserve a sister like Scarlett.
After some events take place the sisters find themselves on the island of Caraval. It is 'owned' by Legend, the master of Caraval. Throughout the book, we get thrown back a few times to when the girls were younger and it is in these flashbacks that we learn a little back story about Legend. It was meant to be this sad story that tied Scarlett to Legends past, to make us understand why Legend is the way he is. I did not pity him, at all.
Julian gave me whiplash! Oh man, it was bad. I mean, yeah, Scarlett did it too, but she had every reason to not trust anyone. Julian, on the other hand, was always a changing story and very unpredictable. One moment I was swooning and the next I was like oh hell no you are a bad guy, aren't you? It was one hell of a roller-coaster.
So let's touch on the Circus subject. There is a lot of hype surrounding this book about it being a circus or carnival or what-have-you. While the title of the book leans more towards carnival, the book is on the circus side. With that being said, if you are reading Caraval for the circus atmosphere or thinking about picking it for that appeal on its own, I would advice you to either turn away or pick the book up without high hopes for that heavy circus theme.
Scarlett's father also played a big roll in this book. He was abusive and controlling but after something that happened towards the end of the book I was actually starting to wonder what his true motives for his actions were. Along with the father, Scarlett had a fiance that her dad set her up with. He didn't seem like such a bad guy but I can't really know that for sure because we didn't get very much of him in the story. I honestly think these two characters could have been omitted and the book would have been the same. The author could have just given a brief history of the abusive father and that could have been it.
In the end, I kind of did expect everything that happened would happen. I don't like how things with Julian ended up. I felt like Scarlett was kind of pushed into keeping her feelings about certain things even though the reasons she loved someone or something were entirely changed now. I wish I could elaborate more on this without giving away any spoilers. But when you love someone, you love their quirks or the things they do. Maybe even a nickname that person gives you. Imagine if that person you loved just stopped all of those things and changed but you were still expected to love them. It was almost like Scarlett was handed a shell of the person she loved and was told to figure out how to love that person again because she isn't allowed to not love them.
Aside from the Scarlett situation, the book ended on a cliffhanger from hell. the worst part for the cliffhanger was that I expected it. So, with expecting it, now I get to sit here and make up all these theories in my head until the second book comes out. Ahhh!!
Overall, I gave the book 5/5 stars.
There is one more thing I want to touch on for this book and all other books ever written. You know how someone will say oh I hated this character, blah blah blah, and they give the book a low rating because of that? It has me really confused because characters are written with all sorts of personalities and quirks, we are meant to hate certain characters because that is how the author wrote that specific character. I do not understand why this warrants someone giving a book a low rating. What the book written badly? Did it have shitty romance and too many plot twists? You telling me a character sucked means nothing to me because they were probably written that was on purpose. Malfoy was a complete dick yet everyone still swooned over Harry Potter. So why are other authors and their books so much different that they end up getting a low rating? Character development is a good reason to give a book a lower rating but if that character does something you don't personally like or is a total bitch, that is not a reason for a low rating, regardless if that character was a bitch or not, you still felt strongly enough about her/him that you reacted negatively towards them. To me, this entire subject is like sitting down to watch a horror movie and giving it a low rating because it scared you.