Book Review #9 – Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Hey there,

First and foremost: apologies for the silence on here. I always believe that if you don’t have anything of value to say, don’t bother blogging about it. Ernest Hemingway (the man, the legend, my love) was quoted as saying, “Write what you would want to read,” (or something along those lines), and if a blog post doesn’t interest me enough to read it the whole way through, than I won’t even bother posting it.

Enough with the blabber – on to the book review!

I received an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of the book CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber in exchange for an honest review. If you know me at all, you know that providing me with an ARC does not guarantee you a positive review; if I need to be mean about how crud the book is, than I will be.  That being said: this book wasn’t crud at ALL! This book was AWESOME!

I won’t quote the whole Goodreads plot synopsis, but I’ll give you a taste: “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.”

First and foremost, this being an ARC, there were numerous editing or spelling issues that I discovered while reading, but because the plot is such an interesting one, it never threw me off of my reading pace. I was too immersed to be distracted by the errors.

This book kept me reading. Each chapter ended in a way that excited me and had me wanting more. Even J overheard a handful of gasps as I read along. Any book that can make my jaw drop or make me GOL (Gasp Out Loud) is definitely on the right track to being a winner, winner chicken dinner. But it’s also a pretty dark book – I wouldn’t recommend it to young teens – and it’s hard not to get a gasp out of a reader when the action happening is so brutal.

The plot and environment description allowed for perfect visualization of the novel. I imagined myself IN Caraval with the characters. There were a few moments of gratuitous and silly description thrown in, here and there (some made me LOL), but otherwise, colours, costume, and buildings all seemed to come out of the page as I read.

The characters were … interesting… That’s the only word I can use. I usually really hated them and yet still cared that nothing horrible would happen to them. Perhaps that is a negative to the novel. I found the characters to be very foolish, annoying at times, irritating, childish. I suppose that was the feel meant to be evoked while they were in the “game” of Caraval, but it still irked me when reading. I just wanted to reach in and shake the characters silly, like, “Get some sense, stupid!”

These foolish personality traits also caused me to kind of hate the ending. It was almost as if the author, having made these characters so stupid throughout, didn’t quite know how to end it in a way that made a lot of sense, and so she amplified the stupidity and insanity by one hundred. The end was just one big mess, then one big fixed mess, then mystery and intrigue to lead into the next book (which, despite these negatives, I will totally read).

I would definitely  recommend this book to readers who enjoy circus-stories, magic-filled stories, books with wonder, mystery and intrigue, fantasy, and for people who are looking for an easy read to get you excited and out of a slump.

Rating: 4/5
Pros: exciting plot, great description and environment, easy read, lots of action
Cons: stupid characters, mediocre ending, some editing errors and gratuitous description



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