Caraval by Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Macmillan/Hachette
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 404

RATINGS
PLOT: 3
PACING: 4
CHARACTERS: 4
STYLE: 4
SETTING: 4

TOTAL RATING: 3.8 STARS

Legend laughed and wrapped both hands around her waist. “I didn’t invite you here to watch, precious.” His mouth moved closer to hers, as if he was about to kiss her. “I want you to play the game,” he whispered.

Then he threw her off the balcony…

Caraval is set in a fantasy world where every year a magical show takes place. Hyper exclusive. It’s run by a mysterious man called Legend and to play the game is by invite only.

Scarlett has been obsessed with Legend and the game, known as Caraval, for years, up until she’s set to wed an arranged marriage, set up by her controlling father. That’s when the invite lands on her door.

Soon, Scarlett and her sister, Donatella are swept to the Caraval where the game is more than it seems and to see her sister again, she’ll have to play.

Caraval falls very much into the themes of fantasy action, with a heavy side plot of romance with a brooding bad boy, which is the eye-rolling norm for many YA’s but truth be told it wasn’t all that bad, EXCEPT the finale (lol, little joke) of the book.

For those who have read it, you’ll understand but i’ll try to express my opinion without spoilers.

Okay…. here goes…

I didn’t like how the story ended on such a happy, all wrapped up in a pretty bow, twist when the previous chapters gave me this dark and edge of the seat hype. The goody-goody nature of the ending really deflated what I was enjoying as a unique subversion of the trope, only to U-turn into a “Happily ever after” ending with only a mild peril cliffhanger.

For me, the final 20-30 pages turned an otherwise 5 star book down to the 3.8 it ended up with. It felt as though the author gave up on the edgy plot for the safe and bland finish. To be fair, I don’t know if this was something that the editors/publisher took out or guided into final story, but I was let left flatter than that last pancake made from the scraps of the batter.

However, I will be reading the rest of the series as I enjoyed it enough that even if the destination didn’t hit the mark, the journey was worth it.

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