Sunday, November 12, 2017

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Author: Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval #1
Audience: +16
Genre: Ya, Fantasy
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Release Date: January 31st 2017
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: Own Copy
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Scarlett and Tella have never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.

Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure.

When the sisters' long-awaited invitations finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show's mastermind organiser, Legend.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is an elaborate performance. But she quickly becomes entangled in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak.

And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

I picked this book when I was on a trip to Prague, because there's no better thing to do when you're a bookworm on a trip than buy more books. I tried resisting, but in the end I couldn't do it and I can't possibly tell you how happy I am that I gave in in the end.

Holy crap you guys!

Books that are similar on carnivals, hidden objects/escape-adventure games have been hit-and-miss for me so far, but Caraval really had me hooked from the beginning to the end. I enjoyed reading it and I especially liked how the book was structured. Garber was a genius in my opinion to structure the chapters into days and nights spent during, before and after Caraval. That, for me, increased the sense of urgency the entire book had. Whenever that "Day/Night..." page came, my excitement grew because I could tell that there was real danger in Caraval. And that's the thing I loved most about the book, the danger, the unknown of it all. I feel like the entire book is based on mind-games. And that more than the actual action is even better to me. It's been a while since I read a book that mentally challenging, to be honest. It wasn't just the game itself, but actually trying to figure out what was real and what wasn't, who was lying and who was telling the truth.

Scarlett is a strong character, that is also quite surprising. She's really reserved and cautious, but at the same time she's naive and reckless. She tends to put her trust in the oddest of places, but then the game doesn't just help uncover the darker side people keep locked away, but also their pasts. In a way, that's what happens with Scarlett, and while the scene with her father before them going to Caraval gives you a hint towards what that man is capable of, this game really made me understand Scarlett more. I also liked that she discovered her inner strength through this game.

Tella, although not that present, is also a really important character. In a way, she's exactly what Scarlett discovers in herself, if it makes sense. Tella has the courage and the recklessness to do what needs to be done in order to save herself and her big sister. She just has a lot more darkness in her that she accepts, and I wonder how that will work for her in the next book.

Throughout the game there are several really important characters that Scarlett encounters and I really hope that they are involved in the sequel. They were surprising and not what I fully expected, to be honest.

As I said, this story was a huge mind-game, and a fast-paced game at that. I enjoyed the twists and turns the story took, and the constant not knowing what was happening made me feel like I was an active part of the game. I also wonder how this story would have looked like had it been told from a viewer's POV.

Oh! I almost forgot to add this. Another cool stuff about the book is that we get to see small parts of Scarlett and Tella's childhood through Scarlett's memories, but this is done in a way to kind of explain her actions within the game, which was also a cool thing.

All in all, this was a really good book, one of the best I've read this year and I am desperately waiting for Legendary, book 2, to come out.

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