Caraval was one of the most highly anticipated YA novels at the beginning of this year and it was certainly one of mine. Written by Stephanie Garber and published by Flat Iron books it promised a story of magic and mystery. A tale about a girl named Scarlet who travels to a magical circus themed island to find her younger sister. With the beautiful cover you see above it was pure agony to wait to read this story.
When I finally did get a chance to read the book, however, the only emotion I felt was disappointed. By the way the book was hyped I was expecting a circus type adventure filled with romance and adventure. There was instant romance and there was a mild adventure but not really any circus.
Scarlett goes to Caraval because of her sister who then goes missing. She spends the entirety of the story searching for her with the help of a complete stranger who she instantly falls in love with. I mean the story takes place over the span of a few days and I don’t believe you can fall in love that quickly. Not saying I didn’t like the love interest I just couldn’t get behind the romance. Caraval turned out to be an island, not a circus, that was filled with magical shops that we barely got to explore. I would have liked more detail, more immersion.
I also didn’t think Scarlett was fleshed out enough. I didn’t feel she had a truly unique voice. I understand she cared most about her sister but I would have liked to see more of that bond before her sister went missing. Her sister also seemed to come off as flat. The bubbly empty headed girl that hinted at more beneath only at the end of the book. The whole thing felt anticlimactic.
I know this book review might seem harsh. It wasn’t a bad book it just didn’t live up to the hype. At least not for me. I liked her purple prose and the words she used to describe what the characters were seeing and experiencing. Stephanie Garber is a good writer don’t get me wrong. The story just did not captivate me. Perhaps if they hype hadn’t been so extreme I would have rated this higher. I will say that I rated it 4 stars originally but as more time has gone by and I have thought about it more I have changed it to 3 stars. A lot of people loved it as you can see by the 3.96 rating on Goodreads. I was just not among them. I will read the sequel as the small cliffhanger at the end did intrigue me. Hopefully, the next book will prove to be more captivating.
As I have said previously I hate giving negative reviews, but if I am to be an honest book reviewer I am not going to like every book I read. Sometimes a reader and a book don’t click and that’s okay.
The next book I plan to review is THUG by Angie Thomas another book I finished months ago but haven’t gotten around to reviewing. After that, I am open to suggestions. What book would you like me to review next? Did you read Caraval? If you did, did you like it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.