My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Though I have several reviews I should be doing before this, I figured since it’s a popular one right now, I’ll go ahead and write one up now.
As I’d already mentioned, popularity-wise, Caraval was a highly anticipated read that seemed to have cropped up everywhere. The ARC seemed to be on everyone’s social media pages.
In Caraval, Scarlett Dragna – protagonist and protective older sister – is desperate to leave Trisda the island she’s grown up on with her sister Tella, as well as her abusive father, and she’s finally going to be able to, due to an arranged marriage with a Count from another land.
Before this engagement, Scarlett had always dreamed of being able to attend Caraval with her sister. Caraval, run by the mysterious man only known by the name Legend, is known to be a spectacular performance that involves their audience in the play, and this show only happens once a year, making it even more special.
Though Scarlett had written to Legend every year, hoping for him to bring Caraval to Trisda, but there was never a reply, so she eventually concedes to moving on.
But this year, the invitation has finally come, and though Scarlett initially has no plans of going, Tella convinces her to, so with the help of a young sailor named Julian, someone they only recently had become acquainted with, they make their way to the island Caraval is being staged on. Then, not long after arriving, Tella is kidnapped by Legend, and Scarlett finds out that this years performance is centered on Tella, and each participant is tasked with finding her.
Scarlett, though, is just desperate to find her sister, and hopefully be back in time for her wedding. So she begins the search, soon finding out that Caraval, with all its mystery and splendor, is really quite devious, and clues aren’t always what they seem. The dangers she experiences may be real, but then again, they may not be, it’s up to Scarlett to decide for herself.
I’ll begin with saying that I found this book to be pretty exciting. I enjoyed how fast-paced it was, and how something seemed to happen in every chapter, which definitely helped in keeping me enamored.
I also enjoyed reading about the magical dress that could transform according to one’s mood.
Another thing I liked, was reading about the different performers involved in Caraval, and the different things that made these performers so mysterious, sometimes even scary (not in the ‘BOO’ sense, but in the ‘walking down a dark alley at night with a stranger following you’ type of way).
Now, when it comes to Scarlett, I’m a bit torn. I liked her. I liked that she cared so much for her sister, that she would go ridiculously above and beyond to find/save her. But then again, I also kind of disliked her. I disliked that she cared so much for her sister, that she would go ridiculously above and beyond to find/save her.
Tella is obviously the more impulsive sister, and tends to do things without thinking much of consequences; whereas Scarlett takes more time thinking the matter over, and ends up bailing her sister out of many nasty situations. So, though I said I liked the way Scarlett cared about her sister, it also got to be a bit obnoxious for me. It soon became annoying to hear Scarlett risking so much, including her own chance at happiness, because she had to take care of her little sister. I feel like maybe I should be a bit more apathetic about Scarlett’s feelings, but honestly, I just don’t want to be. I’d rather be annoyed and tell myself I can’t deal with characters being so self-sacrificing for my own selfish reasons.
As I’m closing in on the end of this review, I feel I should mention a little in regards to the romance part of this book.
At times, it was subtle, then at others, it was – boom! – in your face. Now let me remind you that there is still that fiancé of Scarlett’s, so whether anything flourishes or not, I won’t say, you’ll just have to read the book.
And yes, I recommend you do so.