Remember, It’s Only a Game. . .
Caraval by Stephanie Garber is my first official book read in 2019. I originally became aware of this book based on Super Space Chick’s book channel. It’s odd because I don’t read much Young Adult Fiction, but the premise sounded intriguing, and I happened to find Caraval on display at my local library. Caraval is spellbinding and it perfectly demonstrates the unbreakable bond between two sisters.
Caraval initially reminds me of Frozen mixed with a psychologically compelling carnival. Scarlett Dragna has become increasingly aware of her awful living situation as she and her younger sister, Donatella [known as Tella], are regularly abused by their father. To escape the abuse, she dreams of attending the faraway carnival known as Caraval. Caraval is a magical game run by Legend, a mysterious man who grants one wish to anyone who wins the game. Eventually Scarlett meets a sexy sailor who allows her the chance to leave the island she has known all her life while also being able to attend Caraval as the guest of honor.
Unbeknownst to Scarlett, Tella is kidnapped by Legend and Scarlett is forced to participate in the game to secure her sister. Everyone tells Scarlett to remember that Caraval is just a game, but she becomes intertwined with the performers and doesn’t exactly remember what’s real or what’s become a fantasy. Scarlett needs to be clever enough to rescue Tella otherwise she may be lost or worse, killed.
The first positive comment about the book is the description of Caraval itself. It seems to be this light-hearted, fantasy carnival with a darker twist to it. Scarlett is forced to face her fears and give out her deepest darkest secrets to save her sister. It seems Scarlett often has to question her sanity throughout the book. I couldn’t imagine being in Scarlett’s position having to save a loved one while contemplating what’s actually happening in reality versus what is magic or fiction.
I also felt Scarlett involved into a completely different character by the end of the game. Before Caraval, she was this scared, shy and distrustful person due to the abuse inflicted by her father. By the end of the book, she took numerous risks while also recognizing her feelings for Julian, the sexy sailor. Originally, I wasn’t a fan of Scarlett’s character based on her personality and how she looked down upon her sister for flirting with men. However, Scarlett truly opened herself up and I genuinely started to feel sympathetic toward her experiences in Caraval.
Caraval reminded me of Frozen because of the bond between Scarlett and Tella. Tella reminds me of Anna as she is the outgoing, flirtatious one while Scarlett is similar to Elsa as she is more reserved, but extremely protective of her sister. The bond between the Dragna sisters is probably one of the best parts about the book.
Another point I wanted to make is how I wasn’t a huge fan of Scarlett and Julian as a couple. Sure, Julian is attractive as there are many descriptions in the book of the muscles on his back. Although Julian is somewhat shady and I’m surprised Scarlett would be willing to trust him so easily. Clearly, he’s hiding something and I wish Scarlett would have questioned him a bit more.
Caraval was a captivating read for me. I became enamored by the Caraval setting along with the character development regarding Scarlett, the main protagonist of the story. The second book in the series, Legendary was released in May of 2018 and the final book Finale will be released May of 2019. I’m hoping movie rights get picked up for this book as it would make for an amazing movie.