It’s Ya Review of CARAVAL

Remember, it’s only a game.


Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Released: Jan. 31st, 2017
Series: Caraval Series
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pages/Hours: 416 pages / 10 hrs 18 mins
Buy itAmazon | Audible | Local Bookstore

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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 faraway, 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. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

I try to make sure my reviews are mostly Spoiler Free (aside from the hidden spoiler-y bit that you have to highlight to view), but the nature of this book kindof makes it difficult to talk about without spoiling SOMETHING. SO, I’m going to try to keep the big things under wraps, but other things might slip through the cracks.

You’ve been warned.

Okay so I’m about to be real bitchy with this review and I feel like I need to preface it with the fact that I did actually enjoy this book?

Question mark because I’m not actually sure I did? I don’t know. I obviously couldn’t put it down and am eagerly awaiting the next installment but did I enjoy it in the way that I enjoy hate-watching TERRIBLE TV Shows? IT’S NOT CLEAR TO ME AT THIS MOMENT. Let’s uncover that truth together.

This was definitely a roller-coaster, I thought I had the plot all figured out a couple of times but it kept tricking me. And while I’m about to rip Scarlett apart for being the WORST™, she ended up having  some okay character development near the end there. I GUESS.

The setting is also FUN AND MAGICAL and I wish we had gotten to explore the world of Caraval with someone who was EXCITED TO BE THERE, but EH. Who am I to judge (I’m a judgy bitch, that’s who I am to judge).

The lil hotbod Julian was definitely delicious…I don’t get what he sees in Scarlett but THAT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS I GUESS. I’m also going to pile some love on the narrator for the audiobook, Rebecca Soler.  She is magic always!
AND she also narrated The Lunar Chronicles so I was getting some lovely Scarlet x Wolf FLASHBACK FEELS.

Sweet mayhem, why oh WHY WERE WE STUCK WITH SUCH A TERRIBLE NARRATOR. Being inside Scarlett’s boring ass head was frustrating and my eyeballs are still sore from all the rolling they were doing during this read.

OOOOOooooooh Scarlett. How obnoxious art thou, let me count the ways:

  1. She’s been trying to get to Caraval for her ENTIRE LIFE, writing letter after letter, and then when she finally gets the chance she’s freaking idiot who can’t figure out how to play the game. AND SHE’S GOT A BAD ATTITUDE. MS. SULKY SOGGY BOTTOMS like a spoiled little brat whose ice cream sunday doesn’t have sprinkles on it so she throws a damn tantrum. Attitudes are important to me. I know you’re in a shitty situation girl, cus your sister got ‘napped but you know the only way to find her is to play the game so FUCKING PLAY IT.
  3. Her Holier-Than-Thou, prudish behavior leads to a string of terribly stupid decisions. Plus it makes her seem small and…I don’t know. Weak isn’t exactly the word I’m looking for but it opens her up to these moments of slut-shaming where she just kind of accepts it as her fault for putting herself in those situations? It’s not great. NOT GREAT.
  4. I’m honestly mad our narrator wasn’t someone who COULD PLAY THE GAME.
  5. Scarlett. Sweetie. You’ve been told a billion times that nothing is real and yet SOMEHOW HERE WE ARE EVERY FIVE SECONDS WITH YOU THINKING THINGS ARE REAL?! I need you to pick up on shit faster, pleeaaaase just TRY TO BE A SMARTIE PANTS.
  6. SHE DUMB.
    For EXAMPLE – She gets to ask someone two questions, she asks ONE, gets her answer and then proceeds to go “WAIT REALLY?!” And use up her second question.
  7. She basically bumbles her way through the game, and is only able to do things because Julian is dragging her along or because it’s Tella that was taken.
  8. It’s gross that you were all up on your sister’s hook-up. As someone who has a sister I was cringing about it the whole time. I don’t care how hot he is.
  9. Scarlett has a magical dress that has a mind of it’s own and puts her in SEXY OUTFITS at the MOST INCONVENIENT TIME and she HATES IT. *FART NOISE*
  10. Scarlett is a little hypocrite there too, isn’t she. Sassing her sister, telling her “You can’t be in love with someone you just met.”Oh really Scarlett?
    REALLY?“yOU cAn’T bE iN lOvE wiTH soMEoNe YoU jUst mEt?!”

Scarlett isn’t the only thing wrong with this book but she’s obviously THE BIGGEST ISSUE BECAUSE SHE’S THE NARRATOR AND WE CAN’T ESCAPE HER.

We also can’t seem to escape the UNNECESSARY SEXISM just running amok in this book. Just because your character has old-fashioned tendencies, that doesn’t mean there has to be an underlying current of old-world sexism. There is no need for that, ESPECIALLY in a Fantasy book. You can get your point across without it.

Tella is also terrible. I don’t care about her at all.

The plot and all the dramatic bits at the end up meaning nothing?! The crazy purple prose didn’t actually help me picture the setting and while it was overly descriptive I realized I couldn’t actually visualize the space. Was there a map in the book? See these are the downsides to doing audiobooks! I don’t know where anything is!
So in my brain it basically just takes place in Hogsmeade?

Oh wow, do I love a Seaman, Julian is exactly what I’m looking for in my fictional hotties! Roguish sailors with accents, who are flirty little trouble makers, and DO CUTE ROMANTIC THINGS?!  CATCH ME BABY, I’M ALREADY FALLING.

This is me trying to shove Scarlett’s dull ass out of the way so Julian and I can start our magical lives together as CARAVAL ACTORS AND LOVAAAAAAAAHS.

Highlight to read this section.
LIKE WHAT. WHY. All these high stakes were set up, and the pay off just wasn’t THERE. None of their emotional shit meant anything because it’s JUST A GAME. So much drama with both Julian and Tella dying and then….coming back because SURPRISE WE SET THIS WHOLE THING UP SO WE COULD ESCAPE FATHER. EVERYTHING IS GREAT? 


AND DAMN IT SCARLETT, girl you are too quick to forgive everybody for their deceit! Honestly I would rather we have ended this book with her and Julian not together so they would have somewhere to GO in the next book. Plus…okay I know Tella says she never actually hooked up with Julian but SCARLETT. DOESN’T. KNOW. THAT. so that makes it still gross.
If you haven’t caught on by now, I think Scarlett is terrible. 

I know there is going to be another book so it will probably answer this for me, but why the fuck did they keep saying things like “OH. YOUR TERRIBLE AND ABUSIVE FATHER WAS JUST TRYING TO PROTECT YOU!” There was just some mismatch pieces of information that didn’t make sense when confronted with the character. 

Yeah I guess. But mostly just so we can talk about it behind it’s back, and then scream and throw things when the second one comes out! Honestly I think I may have accidentally enjoyed this book, and you probably will too.

What’s more is that I BELIEVE the second book, Legendary, will be told from Tella’s point of view! So even though she was incredibly one dimensional and boring in this one….maybe just MAYBE, she’ll be a better narrator than Scarlett and we can finally have the joyous Caraval adventure we all deserve!


Stardust by Neil Gaiman (one of my FAVORITE books and Authors)
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Full disclosure I haven’t actually read this yet but it was recommended to me by three people in the last week after I told them I finished Caraval.)

Review of Defy The Stars by Claudia Gray
Review of Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Have you read Caraval? Was I too harsh on Scarlett?
If you haven’t read it yet, what are some other MAGICAL books I should check out?!

On a slightly similar note, I’m obsessed with The Greatest Showman. The album has been on repeat in my house since Christmas! 

9 thoughts on “It’s Ya Review of CARAVAL”



    Erm, right, Caraval.

    I had a lot of the same MEH feelings as you. Scarlett was #NOPE on so many levels. I really loved the world of Caraval itself but Scarlett sort of squeezed in there and ruined everything. Are you going to read Legendary?

    1. I LOVE THE GREATEST SHOWMAN SO MUCH. Probably five seconds in and I was already happy crying and going “WOW WHAT A GREAT TIME.”

      But back on subject, yeah basically would love to just shove Scarlett out of the way so we can enjoy the view….but that clearly didn’t happen.
      I’m considering waiting to see what everyone else thinks about it first, but I probably WILL read Legendary. I’ll do it sort of with the same attitude that I watch terrible movies though. It will be like “Grab the wine, let’s see what sort of nonsense they’re up to now!”

      What do you think, are you going to read it?

      1. That is the perfect attitude. I think I’ll probably audiobook it on that one and see if it’s a different experience. Here’s hoping it exceeds expectations!

  2. Ahah haha I understand your feelings here! I really really loved the world. Like to the point where I’m pretty much in adoration of all of Caraval. BUT … Scarlett. Yes we can agree she was absolutely the worst. She basically whined and flopped like a fish through the book and why the heck couldn’t Julian have been the narrator? Life would’ve been 500% better then. 😂

      I’m not sure Tella is going to be much better but ugh, whatever.
      I’m in it now I guess.

  3. Ahahahahaha omg I’m DYING!! This review is the greatest!! 😂😂😂

    I really loved this book, but that’s mostly because I went into this thinking it was gonna suck and then was pleasantly surprised. Plus, the plot REALLY kept me on my toes, which I feel never happens to me anymore with YA books. But honestly, I was just pleasantly distracted by the pretty shiny things in the background. Any time Scarlett was terrible I was like, OH LOOK A HALF NAKED TATTOOED FORTUNE TELLER!! Lol.

    Totally agree with everything you said about Scarlett. She’s such dead weight through the whole book about everything. For the beginning half she’s all “but what about the Duke?!? I can’t betray him!!” Gurl, you haven’t even met him yet! Who cares? But then she’ll get together with hottie Julian even though he supposedly hooked up with her sister???? I also think Tella is just as terrible and I’m worried about reading a whole book about her.

    And I’m here to tell you THERE IS A MAP IN THE BOOK!! I bought a cheap copy on Bookoutlet after I listened to the audio and was pissed! That would have been so helpful! Definitely one of the cons to listening instead of reading. Lol.

    1. SEE that’s my plan for the sequel!! I’m going to go into the next one expecting it to be SO TERRIBLE, so if it’s even like a little bit enjoyable I’m going to be BEYOND THRILLED!

      Damnit are you kidding there IS a map?! MMKAY GRWAT well i guess i’ll have to just….go look at it. I can’t bring myself to buy a hardcover but I’LL GO LOOK AT THE MAP next time i’m in a bookstore!!!

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