This book really takes you on a fun journey. It has a different feel from most other novels, something about the writing style is beguiling. A little haunting maybe, too. For those of you who read the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern it has that kind of feel. Of course, I didn't particularly enjoy the Night Circus. I really enjoyed Caraval.
The best element of the book is that your mind gets to play the game along with Scarlett, Caraval's protagonist. You're told not to trust anyone or anything-- even your senses can betray you in the Game. And it's a great deal of fun to try and unravel the Game, truly figuring out what might happen. Of course, some of the plot twists were horribly obvious and I guessed them from the beginning... but then somehow those plot twists twisted in the opposite direction. Hmm. Even for the reader it's hard to distinguish what is really happening in the book and what is make believe.
The writing is spectacular, finding the perfect words to make the world (or game) of Caraval enchanting. Then the plot is also extremely well put together, using classical elements that make a story interesting (quest with a high stakes deadline + mystery) and adding new twists on it. The pacing also feels right, not too fast or too slow. Just right. Thinking about it, I don't think I'd change a single element about this book-- other than making it longer. I want more of this magical world! Sure, I might not have absolutely loved some things, but I didn't dislike them. I think the book fits together too perfectly, any change might mess that perfect balance up.
The book, Caraval, follows Scarlett Dragna, a governor's daughter who suffers from an abusive father. She'll do anything to protect her sister, and it seems like she's finally found their escape-- in her betrothed, who has promised to sweep both Scarlett and her sister, Donatella, away from their father forever. But Scarlett's never even met her betrothed-- she doesn't even know his name, and Donatella is a little more than doubtful about this husband. When Scarlett gets an invitation to play in Caraval, a magical game she's dreamed of attending ever since she was a child, Donatella is convinced that Caraval is the escape her and Scarlett despitely need, for the winner of the Game gets one wish. And that wish could be used to allow Scarlett and Donatella to finally escape from their father's reach. However, an unforeseen issue arises in the Game. Donatella is stolen away, and the goal of the game is to find her... and if Scarlett doesn't, she'll never see her beloved sister again. With the stakes suddenly raised, Scarlett is despite to find Donatella, but the problem is she doesn't know who to trust. For in the game, you can't trust anyone. The other players are only in it for themselves... And then of course, you can never tell who's a player in the Game, or who's an actor, perpetuating the game.
Sound interesting? Well, if it does, I highly reccomend this book. I went through it in less than a day, it's just so good. Nearly impossible to put down. I would give Caraval 7/10 stars, or 4.5 stars on Goodreads. It really was a fun read. I wasn't the biggest fan of some characters, like I didn't really connect with Scarlett on everything, but I didn't dislike her. I just wasn't as enthusiastic about her and her sister as I am about some other protagonists. She's still a good protagonist, just not my favorite. Though, I can't help but say I really did enjoy the male protagonist of the story. You'll just have to wait and read the book to meet him.
Anyway, here's the synopsis:
Remember, it’s only a game…
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 seriously hope you all give this book a chance, because boy, it's a fun ride to get on. I wish I could go back and read it over for the first time again. Maybe y'all can do that for me. :)
Thanks for reading,