Book Review: Caraval – Stephanie Garber

Lol I have such mixed feelings about this book, like it’s good but a lot of aspects I dislike, but surprisingly, I’m still giving this a 4/5 lmao


Name: Caraval
Author: Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: January 31, 2017


Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved 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 far-away, 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. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Book Cover Comments

I love the gradient red lines on the starry blue-greenish dark background. The contrast is really well done, and the background ties into a section of the book as well. I like how the lines sort of narrow down to the catchphrase of the book and Stephanie’s name. Whoever, designed the cover of this book, it’s really really mystic and beautiful.

The star in the middle entwined with the word “Caraval” is a beautiful design. So I was told the star was HOLO (holographic aka rainbow). When my book arrived, I was like, where dat HOLO>!>!!?!?!??!?!?! Turns out it can only be seen under bright lights. Bummer. XD

The Review

Oh, boy.

Honestly if I don’t spoil you, my dear reader, you wouldn’t be able to understand my praises and rant. But that’s ok, I’ll be doing that over BookTube (yes I haven’t filmed in 3 weeks cus I’m lazy as hell) because this rant is pretty much necessary.

So read at your own precaution, because I’ll have to reveal some of the character traits of some of the characters. Otherwise you won’t get what’s going on and why some things just bug me so much.

Beginning with the world building, Caraval was an absolutely magnificent world. So leaving out where Scarlett and Tella are from cus it’s really not neccessary to talk about, the island which Caraval is on, in which it is located in a big big house of some sort, kind of gives me the impression of this: (it’s a pic i took while i was in Edinburgh)13549380_648721851949103_604119499_n.jpg

The small pinhole reveals a big world inside, and that world, indeed, is extremely rich. All the interesting locations and easter eggs (well they’re not really easter eggs, but character’s world’s easter eggs. As in like clues of this and that lmao) The idea of Caraval being surrounded by a canal so that some of the plot and characters could set into place, the locations, just everything.

The concept of Caraval itself was extremely magnificent. With the rules and contracts, the idea that they kept on enforcing that “it’s only a game”. Throughout the game, because of all the twist and turns, it kept me going on thinking if this is to be meant literally, or metaphorically, and metaphorically in the sense that it’s hiding a truth of some sort. The idea that each thing you want comes with a payment, in which you can pay with secrets, possessions, time, I really like it. This just makes everything more fun and interesting.

SO the big thing in the plot was Scarlett finding Tella since she is kidnapped by the master of the game, Legend. Basically an adventure where she tries to find her sister with five clues, and go all over town. Adventure x Room Escape Style. I mean, who doesn’t like an adventure to find the prize and then get your so called wish granted? Everything is really cool, from the players in the fame and their roles, how some people help each other out, as well as how part of them reflect who they really are outside the game. So kinda like virtual RPG’s, I guess.

However, one thing with the plot that insanely bugs me is the amount of twists, turns and revelations they put in the last 30% of the book. To a certain extent, I think it was too difficult for me to handle and deal with, since there was a lot to load in and try to understand. But at the same time, there’s no way it could be put earlier on in the book, because, no. lol I’m complaining and yet (#ContradictingMyself)

Now onto the major section of the rant part.
I’m just not satisfied with the characters. Like is it just me or is it just overly bizarre and 😦

Note that everything below is slightly spoilerish.

So we just had to kick off the book with Scarlett being the greenhouse plant. She had this really enclosed mind that thinks marrying off is the only way to stay safe of the dangers in life, and so she has 0 ambition, therefore fragile. I get it, it’s so that she can grow out of it when she arrives in Caraval and become a whole new person. In fact, when Scarlett finally understands her stubbornness, she begins to change. She dares, she tries, she thinks ways she never thinks before, reaching great conclusions.

Her sister on the other hand, is a total wild card. Her ambition is 100%, literally opposite of Scarlett. While I appreciate the fact that you should try everything and not run away, I find Tella going too far on too many aspects, that you would only understand if you know the plot. During the last maybe 20% of the book, I was pretty much pissed of her. I get her actions are understandable for the future she’s looking to and what she’s trying to do, but nah.

But nonetheless, amazing world building and plot.

I’ll leave the rest in the video review that I will be making soon, so I hope you enjoyed my review of Caraval :)


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Joanne Lumiere

Joanne is the narcissistic founder of her book blog, Joanne Lumiere. Born and raised in Hong Kong, this 18 year old brat is currently attending college in Los Angeles, and still doesn't know how to read books with sophistication, and yet she runs a blog.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Caraval – Stephanie Garber

  1. This is a great review, Jo! I finished Caraval recently and I am still thinking about what I should write in my review. I liked it but I had some issues with it too.

    Are you excited for Book 2?

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