What do you get when you mix the books Night Circus and Mr. Lemoncello's Library? Caraval by Stephanie Garber is most definitely the answer.
This fantasy young adult fiction novel has the magic of a traveling circus of sorts, but a scavenger hunt type of a game. It's a fun read, and earns 4 out of 5 stars in my book review.
I felt Caraval was a well written story, with a complex storyline, and good character development. There were many aspects of the story that surprised me; I find myself feeling this novel was creative, fun, and unpredictable story with a happy ending. It was definitely a fun read.
The fun unpredictable story was great, but I also truly loved seeing Scarlett grow in confidence throughout the story. Scarlett started as a girl that was afraid of her abusive father and throughout the story she began trusting herself more, standing up for herself, and even fighting for what she wanted. Confidence is something I believe teens could definitely use more of, and a book that highlights how a character builds her confidence is definitely worthy of a check-out.
Caraval is a mostly clean read. There is no language, sex, or drugs, but there is violence related to action as well as sex being referred to tho it never happened.
In regards to the audience, this book is best geared for 8th graders and up. It's a long book, and not a constant page turner therefore it is not for the reluctant reader. However, reluctant readers, and all y'all that drive a lot or find life is too busy to read, will really enjoy the audiobook, which is well read, and gets you into the setting and suspense that much more.
A few aspects of the story that I wish was done better is in regards to the romance and the abuse. Scarlett's romance with Julian was a bit too instant, but I guess that is the YA coming out. Though, the romance just seemed too sudden and unbelievable. I also felt the parent-child abuse Scarlett and Donatella experience by their father wasn't dealt with. With abuse being a big aspect to the story, I feel Garber missed an opportunity to give her book more value and depth.
Overall, Caraval is a fun story. It isn't amazing, but it's an enjoyable light fantasy read. Definitely give it a check-out this summer.
Just so you have a better idea of the storyline, Amazon had the following book description:
"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.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away."
I got this book in my February Owlcrate box, but it took me a couple months before I could get around to reading it. However, I felt the box was fun even though I don't use a lot of it. The tote bag does make an excellent piano lessons bag for my daughter, and the cotton candy chapstick is pretty fun.
What did you think of Caraval?
Happy Fantasy YA Lit Reading!
Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Rating: 4/5 stars
Best For: 13 - 18 year olds, 8th grade and upWorth a Check Out: Yes!
Buy It or Not: Not.
Read Aloud: it's a great audiobook, so it could be a great read aloud, but I probably wouldn't.
Lesson Ideas: Confidence, Family relationships