DNF at 60%. This review is going to be unpopular because I have seen some incredibly positive reviews for this book. It just wasn’t for me. I tend to like books that emphasize mood and characterization and Caraval was all about plot and descriptions of dresses and cute boys. I know that I have muscled through and even enjoyed books in a similar vein with similar issues, so my antipathy towards this book is a bit mysterious.
The biggest downfall for me was Scarlett. I kind of hated her. To me, she read as controlling, selfish, whiny, indecisive, and frankly not that smart. Every time she has to make the smallest decision she pretty much falls apart. “Oh, noes! What shall I do!?” Pick a direction and run, girl! This book brought it home for me that I have no patience for indecision and hand wringing.
I also wasn't a fan of the way that Scarlett viewed every other woman as competition. Not in the game so much. Just competition for being the most "girl". I felt as if what she was competing for was the attention of every male. Almost everything that she thinks about other woman is some form of criticism especially if they are in the company of a man. Not cute.
Scarlett is a survivor of abuse, and as such, I should have had more sympathy and patience with her. I am ridiculously easy to emotionally manipulate like that. Show me the slightest bit of a sob story or emotional range, and I will feel for the character. It is one of the reasons I can't watch horror movies. Not only do I feel terrible for the victims but I also feel for the villains if their backstory is even the slightest but developed. It is a problem. So the fact that I couldn't connect or feel for Scarlett should be an indication of how deep and instant my dislike of her was.
Then there is Julian. He is beautiful has muscles to make the angel weep and an attractive accent. Other than that? I got nothing. He gives Scarlett a cute nickname, teases her because he is oh, so sexy, and disappears a lot. Also, he gets jealous of the other pretty-boy in the story because Scarlett must be his. Drama, drama, drama. And scene.
What kept me going through half this novel was the description. Caraval was incredibly vivid. I could perfectly envision it all. The light, the streets, the snow, the food, and the characters. In my head, it was as if Disneyworld had gone dark and dramatic. The caricature of everyday life to fit a particular aesthetic. I am not sure if that comparison makes sense outside of my head.
I just couldn’t get through it. I wasn’t even pissed off enough to angry read my way through it. I was just bored and annoyed. Anyhow, I sorry if I am dumping on your fav. We all like different things in books, and this just didn’t do it for me.
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.