Book Review: Caraval (Caraval, #1)

I’m sure that by now, everyone has heard of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval (Caraval, #1). If you haven’t, well, that’s just crazy talk because everyone and I mean EVERYONE has been talking about it. And because everyone is talking about how amazing it is, and it is soooo amazing, I’m really going to focus on the not-so-amazing parts. Does that sound good to you? If it doesn’t…sorry?

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.

Honestly, I could go on and on about how amazing the plot was and how completely engrossed I was by this novel. I mean, I did read it in 24 hours. But all I’m going to say is that this book completely pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until the very last page. The hype is real, y’all. However, I did have a few issues with this book even though I enjoyed it so much that they did not affect my overall rating of it.

First off, Scarlett…. Y’all, I hate to say this but I just didn’t like her at all as a character. It was admirable how much she loved her sister and would do anything for her. But I think that’s the only quality that I liked about her unfortunately. Throughout the whole book, all she does is whine and talk about how scared she is. She also kind of just makes some of the silliest choices earlier on that I did not agree with. Overall, she wasn’t really my type of heroine. I much preferred Tella (who I’m thinking will be the MC in the sequel! *squeals happily*). Also, I might be in love with the mysterious and mad Legend. Seriously, I need more of him IMMEDIATELY.


I also had a bit of trouble with the world-building. The carnival part was fine, but it was the overall world within it was set that had me a little confused at times. I feel like stuff was mentioned but it never developed into an actual explanation. I think that Garber should really expand upon all of the politics and world within which the story is set. I think there was something interesting aspects to it that she mentioned but never fully fleshed out, especially in regards to the Scarlett and Tella’s father, and his political position.

However, even with the issues that I did have in regards to the story, it never affected just how much I was so thoroughly entrenched in this story. I couldn’t bring myself to put it down or try and take my time with it – I had to know what would happen next! There were so many twists and turns that I never saw coming and it all just added to the dark and manipulative atmosphere of the Carnival. This is one of those books where despite some of its flaws, I can’t give it anything lower than 5 stars. I know, I know.. I’m such a pushover.

Final Verdict: 5/5 Stars

Have you read Caraval? What are your thoughts on it? Did you have some issues with it as well? Did they affect your ability to enjoy the overall story?