My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Publication Date: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Point of View: 3rd Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Family, Game, Magic, Action
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their ruthless father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the legendary, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
Then, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation to Caraval finally arrives. So, Tella enlists a mysterious sailor’s help to whisk Scarlett away to this year’s show. But as soon as the trio arrives, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nonetheless soon becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with her sister, with Legend, and with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
Before you enter the world of Caraval, you must remember that it’s all a game . . .
I’m very impressed with this book. The most important thing you need to know is that, although it’s marketed as such, it really isn’t a competition per se. I mean, it’s as much a competition as THE NIGHT CIRCUS is.
Sure, it’s a game indeed, a treacherous game that you can lose yourself in at any moment, but it’s not a competition. I’m not going to elaborate, because I’d have to reveal some things that will spoil some surprises, so you’ll just have to trust me on that.
But it’s good, so good. It plays with the reader so well. It’s not only Scarlett who risks her life to win the game, it’s also us, or so I felt. I felt as I were a player myself. Sometimes characters are clueless and don’t see what is in front of them while we readers scream our heads off trying to make them SEE. This never happens in this book. Because whenever Scarlett learns something, we learn it too.
The reader in me can’t help but try to guess what has happened and who that character is and what the characters will face in the future, etc. I just can’t help myself. And so that’s what I did. But even though I kept trying to have things figured in my mind before the main character ever could, I still ended up being delightfully surprised.
What really shines in this book is the action. Every new chapter brings a new setting or mishap or character: the story progresses well. Sometimes scenes can be lethargic because of an exaggerated amount of description, but that too never happens in CARAVAL.
What stole my heart was the magical, fairytale-esque writing style and narration. Though it obviously is a young adult novel – no cross-genre going on – I didn’t mind that it wasn’t more sexy or ghastly.
It’s very worth reading if you’re a fan of fantasy novels, uncanny and treacherous stories and thrilling, intelligent plots.
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