Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Book review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Got it and so excited!! ALA Midwinter Conference 2016
Book Summary
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. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

Flo's Review
This book was quite the game. Seriously. My journey reading this book had just about as many twists and turns as Scarlett's adventures at Caraval. 

I struggled for the first half to 2/3rds of the book. I just could not with Scarlett. I don't know if I have ever read someone so inside his or her own head. I am sure there are people like that in the world, but it's really a little bit painful reading that character. At times it felt like I was just reading so much of Scarlett's broken record thoughts and not enough of the magic. 

Because the magic is where this book excels! Stephanie Garber's writing is absolutely beautiful. She doesn't just describe things with words -- she sings them, she creates them, she encapsulates them with all 5 senses and then some. 

Another thing I struggled with was Scarlett's and Julian's banter. I think it was supposed to be cute and coy and show the tension between them. But it just seemed to me like they were snipping at each other in many exchanges that went on for far too long. Their bickering exhausted me. 

But now let's bounce back to something else I liked about this book. The plot twists! There were several, and I didn't see any of them coming. I definitely knew that things would not be as they seemed, but it is just so incredibly creative, this story. 

Finally, a note about the audiobook. I think one reason I vacillated with my opinions about this book is because I was so ready to love it. This book was definitely one of the more popular and most anticipated 2017 titles, and that definitely raised the bar. One reason I was so excited for it was because I found out that the audiobook was narrated by Rebecca Soler. She is absolutely one of my favorite audiobook readers! She read the Cinder series, and I listened to all of those with her. So when I heard that she was doing Caraval, I was ready for another journey. Rebecca did not disappoint, and though I have finished listening to the story, the audiobook contains a bonus interview with author Stephanie Garber. I am looking forward to listening to it tomorrow as I drive around! 

So now that I am off of the ride that is Caraval, I will give it a 3 out of 5 stars and add book #2 to my TBR.

Thank you so much to Macmillan Audio for providing me with the audiobook in exchange for my honest review.

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