Book Review #64: Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber (Advance Reader Copy from Hachette Australia)

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Title: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Pages: 401
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Paperback (Advance Reader Copy)
Date Published: January 31, 2017
Publishing House: Hachette Australia
GoodReads Rating: 4.0
Personal Rating: 3.5/5

Remember, it’s only a game…

Synopsis

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.

My Personal Thoughts

I would like to thank the generous publicity department of Hachette Children’s Books, for sending me an advance reader copy (ages ago) in exchange for an honest and fair review. You still send me books despite being behind with my reviews. Moving on, this book is quite intriguing and mysterious! When I read the synopsis last year, I was already so eager to have my own copy. Surprisingly, the abovementioned publishing company sent me an ARC even though I did not request for one (again, thank you!). The cover of this book is screaming awesomeness and class! I think the UK version is also very gorgeous and hardbound-worthy. The book’s cover is merely enough for a bookworm to grab a physical copy of this novel.

First, the story’s setting is so commendable! It is well-described and the island is perfect for the caraval’s set up. I just love how the story and the setting matched! The island is so mysterious and creepy. It will make you cringe! Every scenario will have you clueless and in deep awe. There’s just something so magical about the place that even as a reader I was mesmerised (or rather should I say, hypnotised?). Second, the characters are so-so. Sorry if you are a huge fan of this novel but Scarlett just annoys the hell out of me. It would have been better if Donatella (Scarlett’s sister) was the one who portrayed her character. She is so scared, needy, and stupid, and I wanted to strangle her personally multiple times. Donatella, on the other hand, is the fierce one, the badass one, the loveable one! It’s too bad that her role just made few appearances and the story revolved around Scarlet. The leading man, Julian, lacks the swoon-worthy factor. He is adorable and handsome, but no, sorry, it’s not enough. He is full of shit and lies, and crap. In the end, I don’t even know who Julian is, or if he is also lying with me (and with the readers). It’s just so frustrating and confusing when a character lies and deceives repeatedly. Legend, the mysterious game master, is an asshat. I don’t know! I just couldn’t say anything positive about the characters. And lastly, the governor (Scarlett and Donatella’s father) is a freaking moron. I couldn’t even stomach all the things that he did. WOW! This story is just so full of crappy characters, I can’t believe it. Third, the writing style is just not for me. I don’t have a thing or patience with slow-paced stories. I fell asleep twice last night while reading. Maybe I lost interest the moment everything got so mixed up. The scenes, the characters, it’s just full of mysteries and deception; and in the end, I was left confused, hanging, and questioning my own comprehending capability. Am I stupid to understand or get a hang of it or it’s just too lousy and boring? Don’t get me wrong, the magic and all are so amazing and electrifying! I will give it credit for that! It is so magical and one heck of a rollercoaster ride, it’s like being in Alice in Wonderland. I love how it made me feel but there are just some things that made it really messy. Lastly, the story undeniably contains a lot of life and love lessons to think about. I am impressed! There are plenty of memorable lines and quotes that are heart-warming and inspirational. Will I still read the next book? Of course! Even though here I am ranting like crazy, I still want to know what will happen next especially with that CLIFF-HANGER (rolling my eyes right now). I still want to find out who Legend is, where their mother is, and what will happen to their lives. I am still interested, and YES I do recommend this book if you want to read and devour on something new and intriguing. I’ll give it three and a half out of five stars for making me want to continue ‘til next book.

~JaNnA