Publisher: Flatiron Books
Published: January 31, 2017
Genres: YA, mystery, romance
My Rating: 4.75 Stars
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.
I wasn’t sure about this book when I first heard about it when I started blogging earlier this year. I’m a fan of fantastical TV shows, but I usually have a hard time getting into fantasy books, but there was something about this one that dragged me in from the first page. Maybe it was the letters, it was different than anything I had read before. I was transported to this different world quickly. I learned enough about Scarlett and her family within a few hundred words through those letters.
I loved the synesthesia, how Scarlett feels colors. How she would say that things felt purple or how people radiated different colors. The thread of purple throughout the whole story was interesting too. From her grandmother’s purple dress, to how her father smelled like rotten plums, and there many any other examples. The metaphor and the thoughtfulness that Garber used in creating this world is beautiful.
I, also, really enjoyed the sibling relationship. I don’t think I’ve read too many books that are about sisters, definitely few that are about sisters that actually like each other. Positive female relationships and friendship are for whatever reason are rarely shown in media, so I think that the love Scarlett and Tella have for each other is so deep and pure. I try very hard not to give spoilers in my reviews, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that their love is very important to the whole story.
The world of the Caraval, was so cool. I would love to read about a person who was playing while not so personally involved in the game, just a casual player to see how the world is different for them. This may be a stretch but, the Caraval world reminds me of GisHwHes and the world that that creates for the players of the hunt. In that week reality is suspended. Nothing is normal. GIshwhEs has strange little riddles and messages from a Misha Collins, who at times in the scavenger hunt, becomes a person much like Legend: a mysterious, somewhat insane, somewhat cruel puppet master. All of a sudden you are out trying to get permission to be on a Nuclear submarine with a hammock while the rest of the world looks at these people wearing pineapples for shoes and lettuce skirts and wonders what the heck. That’s how reading about Caraval felt to me. I was the person looking at the people in the cheese dresses wondering why on Earth anyone would do that. Caraval had that same feel. A feeling of suspended reality, if only for a few days. The biggest difference is the suspension of reality in the book is real, separate from the rest of the world. GisHwheS co-exists with the real world.
I didn’t feel like the romance with Julian was exactly necessary, but I do understand it’s purpose. The idea of choice, which is so huge in the story. This book is just a giant story about choosing what is right for you, taking a leap, running outside your comfort zone.
I would most definitely recommend this book widely. Although there are fantastical elements, and magic does play a large part of the book, it is so rich with metaphor and symbolism. I am going to re-read it before I read the sequel when it comes out next year, I know have my first got to read book of 2018.
Garber has created an amazing world with Caraval, and I anxiously await the second book of this series.
Have you read Caraval? Were you dazzled by the world?
Until next time Internet,