I am totally that person who reads a super hyped book and then rates it 2 stars. It happened with A Court of Thorns and Roses (bleh), it happened with Empress of A Thousand Skies (don’t even get me started), and The Grisha Trilogy (didn’t even finish that). So, I was 100% prepared to not like Caraval after all the hype surrounding the book basically built it up to be the best thing since sliced bread.
And, I am happy to report that it passed my hype test!
*Cue confetti and rave horns*
Caraval was as wonderfully magical as the cover art promised it would be. (I had even purchased a signed, limited edition, numbered copy of this book, so my expectations were even higher than the average reader’s!) I fell in love with Stephanie Garber’s writing from the first paragraph. Opening this book really felt like I was falling into another world, it was so beautifully done, I had to remind myself several times that this was a debut book.
And, since I have been in a list making mood lately (and because it seems that most people have already read the dang thing), I will just get right into what I felt were the goods and the bads of Caraval. Minor spoilers from here on.
Things that went right:
- As I previously mentioned, the writing is beautiful. I was entranced. I kept finding myself rereading sentences so I could fall further into Garber’s words. And that my friends, is a wonderful feeling.
- The magic! But was it really magic?! Was it just magician’s tricks?! I really loved the mantra of the whole story, “Remember, it’s only a game.” I kept feeling tricked by the story because I really wasn’t sure WHAT to believe!
- Kind of goes hand in hand with the writing, but the descriptions of Caraval were so vivid I felt like I was watching a movie while I was reading. Isla de Los Suenos seems like a gorgeous place, and I felt the magic leaking into my hands.
- The setting of Caraval was so unique and original, I loved every moment on that crazy island.
Things that kind of bothered me:
- While the relationship Scarlett and Tella had with their father was the driving force of the plot, it really, really bothered me. It just made me feel really uncomfortable, especially when it was alluded to that Governor Dragna basically sold his daughter into marriage? Ew.
- While I liked the characters, I didn’t love them. For some reason I never really connected with Scarlett (maybe it’s because I didn’t want to admit that I am totally a worry wart like she is), but when I was reading about her, I found her to be relatively annoying.
- The ending. What. Happened. I am not saying that to be funny, I was legitimately confused by the ending. It was a cliffhanger I assume, but I just felt unfulfilled.
Overall, I gave Caraval 4 stars, and I really did enjoy the read! Plus, the book is so mesmerizing to look it, it was worth it in just that sense. I can’t wait for book two, and I have been speculating about what the title could be for a week now… but I still don’t even have a reasonable guess.
What did you think of Caraval? Did it live up to the hype?