Book Review – Caraval

Book: Caraval – Author: Stephanie Garber

Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Fantasy

Description from Goodreads:

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.

My Review:

I’ve seen my share of bad reviews for this book, but I actually really enjoyed it. The idea behind the game of Caraval is intriguing. It’s basically a giant cosplay-treasure hunt, where you can trade secrets and wishes for magical items and dreams. And at the end, if you solve the mystery, you may just win the prize of a lifetime. But don’t get TOO caught up or Caraval could become your downfall.

I’ll be completely upfront: the main character, Scarlett, is about as angst-ridden as you can get. Her father is a monster, her arraigned marriage is a mystery, her sister is missing, and then she starts falling for a guy who could be anyone. But somehow, she never comes off as annoying. I actually really liked Scarlett. I felt pretty bad for her situation and spent most of the book going “Come on, I know you can do this! You got this one, Scar!” I also really liked her sister, though she’s not in the forefront of the novel for very long.

The action in this one never stopped coming. I actually read the book in about 5 hours, which isn’t too bad for an over 400 page book, and most of that can be attributed to the fact that I spent about 85% of the book on the edge of my seat. The author really knows how to keep you guessing: Is creepy Dante really Master Legend? Or is Legend actually the mysterious Julian, the sailor who arrived just in time to carry the girls off to Caraval? Will Scarlett escape her father and will she ever find her lost sister? What is real and what is just the game?

This one was a knuckle-biter from start to finish. I highly recommend it to people who like adventurous books with a dash of romance thrown in (yes, I even liked the romance in this one 😉 ). I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel!

Similar Book(s):

The Night Circus – Erin Morganstern

Book Review – Six of Crows

Book: Six of Crows – Author: Leigh Bardugo

Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Fantasy

Description from Goodreads:

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist:

Break into the notorious Ice Court
(a military stronghold that has never been breached)

Retrieve a hostage
(who could unleash magical havoc on the world)

Survive long enough to collect his reward
(and spend it)

Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first..

My Review:

I really enjoyed this novel. Bardugo managed to build an entirely original, yet realistic, world. I found myself trying to compare the countries with our own and, though there were similarities, there were enough differences that the world seemed completely new and exciting.

The diverse cast was very interesting. Having most of them be from different countries gave them each a very unique viewpoint towards the war and the mission itself. I don’t think there were two characters who came from similar backgrounds, even when they grew up in the same city, and it was their individual qualities that made them work so well as a team, even if they didn’t always want to.

I don’t usually like it when the POV jumps around, but in this instance I think it worked. I liked how the inner-thoughts of each character were used to lead into their history and how they explained the perspective of each character. It really helped me understand them all individually rather than just focusing on a single character or the group as a whole.

I will admit, as I have several times before, that I am not fond of romances, and so much of this book seemed to focus on the yearnings of the characters that it almost turned me off. The adventure and writing style of the book are what kept me going. I was truly curious as to what would happen during the mission and whether or not all of the crew would make it out alive. Bardugo has an easy writing style that allows you to read quickly enough that you can flow through the adventure almost as easily as watching a movie and, with an adventure this broad and exciting, that is a great thing.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA fantasy, group adventures…or just a good scoundrel. Be ready for some romancy-angst, though, and be aware that there is a sequel!

Similar Book(s):

Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson