“The world of Caraval was Master Legend’s great playground. No words were spoken that he didn’t hear. Not even a whisper could escape his ears. No shadow was unseen by his eyes. No one ever saw Legend…but Legend saw all during Caraval.”
Make sure to check out this week’s podcast review!
This is definitely one of the better YA fantasy stories out there. This is coming from people that generally don’t get too worked up over YA.
Scarlett and her sister Donatella live with their father who has quite the cruel streak on an island that he rules over with an iron grip. Since their mother disappeared some years prior to the story he has only gotten worse and the girls want nothing more than to be away from him however they can escape. For Scarlet, this means marriage. For Donatella, this means kidnapping her sister and running away with the first mate on a merchant ship to visit the famed Caraval.
A lot of what this book has to offer isn’t exactly fresh; a very romance-driven story co-starring a mysterious young man with super-mysterious scars set in a game-like plot where everything is pretty and the main character spends a lot of time thinking about her clothes (granted, that last one honestly didn’t take up a ridiculous amount of space in this book). Still, the writing is sharp and the characters have some depth to them, even if some of them are wishy-washy (I’m looking at you, Julian). Honestly, this is a book that can be hard to put down.
There is a scene toward the end of the book where Scarlett is re-united with Donatella after they have been separated for a while. This is easily the best scene out of the book. It is an on the edge of your seat kind of moment in which as a reader you don’t know what to believe.
The romance is okay. The chemistry between the two lovebirds is very strong. Like, somebody should have brought a knife so we could cut through it.
All that said, the author did mention in an interview that she didn’t heavily plot the book prior to writing; that it was about halfway through writing the book that she knew for sure where this was going. While the ending made sense, the story still suffers for this a little because of all the exposition that were needed in the last few chapters in order to pull all the random threads of the story together.
And man…the ending. It is sooooo hard to discuss this without spoilers but there are several things that happen throughout the book that help make this book seem really dark and helps to keep the tension in the book high because of what is at stake. Then we get to the end it’s basically “haha yeah no, lawlz, everything is actually bright and sunny.”
It looks like the next book may yet be dark as there are still secrets to unlock and it seems we have just begun to skim the surface.
I will keep this one short and sweet just because we said a lot of good things in our spoiler review in the podcast.
I did not like how this book ended. I feel it cheapened the events that happened in the book. I enjoy books that push the envelope and don’t hold back on emotionally difficult moments. There were a couple of fantastic, gut wrenching moments that were the immediately overshadowed and forgotten about by the ending.
Overall, I enjoyed this books and do want to continue with this series. Hopefully the next book has consequences and they stick. The magic and weirdness to it was fun and ND it is one I recommend you pick up.
I found myself really liking this book even though there was not really a lot of substance to it. The mystery of Caraval is confusing to the point that it itself was not that engaging. The relationship tension is what drove a lot of this book.
There was a little bit of a theme of Scarlett being so obsessed with looking after her sister that she neglects to look after herself. It’s not that Donatella does not love Scarlett, they just have different personalities and Donatella is definitely a more generally thoughtless person. So when Donatella does not show the same considerations that Scarlett does, Scarlett is easily hurt over it. I felt like a lot of this was about backing up and finding balance between caring for others and caring for yourself.
I won’t beat a dead horse in regards to the ending as it has already been mentioned. Just know that that…stuff…had a bigly negative impact on my rating. When the stakes are high, I want them to stay high!