Today I am going to be reviewing Caraval by Stephanie Garber. Overall, I really have to say that I am conflicted about this book. I loved the concept and the writing style, for the most part. However, there were quite a few plot twists kind of lumped together, and I am unsure of their quality. I left the book feeling like there was some solid potential for something great. I disliked the characters and it was easy to believe that the plot twists were brilliant, but as I began to mull over it, I wasn’t so sure anymore. There were fantastic moments that almost redeemed the flaws, then the last 100 pages happened, and I just wasn’t sure anymore.
As I briefly mentioned, I really disliked the characters. Scarlett is annoying and weak. I understand that this might have been to allow for some growth, and that would’ve been fine, if it actually happened. The development was unrealistic and choppy. One moment she is cowering and scared and the next she is heroic. In addition, Scarlett had very repetitive thoughts. It’s fine to be focused on a purpose, but not to the point where it is literally all that is described. Sometimes the same thoughts were even repeated with the same exact wording! This frustrated me to no end, not to mention how overdone Julian’s and Its physical descriptions were. OVER AND OVER , again I had to read about how beautiful and perfect they are. And I’m sad to say that’s really all I could take away from Julian and Tella. They were both flat with shifty personalities that kept re-defining their character. Its good when a character changes, it’s not good when a character keeps changing between completely unrelated personalities.
The confusing world building muddled the entire story. For such a grand world proposed in Caraval‘s summary, the whole thing was disappointing. There was so much that could be explored and just touching upon those things briefly isn’t enough. It left me not understanding anything or how to approach to new things being introduced. Then when the clump of plot twists happen, everything is turned upside down, leaving the small amount of structured things to collapse.
The plot would be fairly normal, were it not in such an abnormal setting. There was good pacing, that kept me reading, and some very good scenes. But there were also some things that didn’t make sense, and it seemed like those were just put in for shock value. I even enjoyed the idea of having such a twisty book, it just wasn’t executed properly.
I will say up front, that I hate insta-love. I don’t think it makes sense for two people who don’t know and don’t like each other to one day wake up and be hopelessly in love. Sadly for me, that was what I got from this book. I could definitely see a romance between the two characters, just not like this. And the fact that they both seemed to be willing to die for each other so suddenly made it all seem fake.
Based on all of this, I have to give this book 3 stars. I know it sounds like I hated it from everything I said above, but there was something about this that made me unable to put this book down. I have to acknowledge that, and despite this book’s flaws, it most certainly not a chore for me to read. Plus the ending really invoked a big reaction from me, which I have to give props to, because not many books are able to do that.
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