book review // Caraval (ALL THE HYPE)

Saturday, March 11, 2017
after being MIA for more than a week, i am now back. it's been hectic lately.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber is probably one of the most hyped books of 2017, and i've mentioned it about a thousand times on this blog. everyone has been talking about this book.

unfortunately, i did not end up enjoying this book as much as i was hoping to. i guess this is sort of an unpopular opinion *shrugs* however, i did still enjoy this book, and it was by no means bad.

i think that this is a classic case of "it's me not you." i read this book right after reading A Gathering of Shadows (basically one of the best books of all time), and i think that i was still in the midst of a book hangover. i had really high expectations made even higher by just finishing an amazing book. this made me so much pickier about the story in generali think that if i reread it, i would enjoy it much more. that being said, i'm going to tell you my initial thoughts and opinions about it.

by Stephanie Garber

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

for me, the characters in this story were slightly lacking. they didn't really develop that much and were a little flat.

scarlett was your average protagonist. she loves her sister and would do anything for her. that's great and all, but she just wasn't anything special. scarlett could have been an awesome character, but she kept worrying, and it got repetitive. she had so much potential but did not live up to it.

i didn't really think the sister bond between scarlett and tella was that strong. i mean, in the beginning when they were together banding together against their father, i could, but as the story progressed, i was more skeptical.

julian was our resident love-interest. i actually didn't mind him that much and would have loved to get some of his perspective in the story.

the romance between julian and scarlett felt a touch too insta-lovey for my taste. i would have preferred a friendship between them first, tbh. but that never ends up happening, does it?

donatella was obviously scarlett's sister. Garber tried to sell her as clever and free-spirited, but it didn't work for me. her decisions just felt badly thought out. i did not like tella as a character at all. but then again, i tend to dislike that type of character who makes stupid decisions.

legend seemed like he could be an incredible character. characters with grey agendas and may-or-may-not-be-villains are my absolute favorite. unfortunately, we didn't get many details about him.

there were some awesome secondary characters (*cough* legend *cough) that i would have loved to hear more from. #nope. that didn't happen, and it disappointed me :(

the setting of this book was perhaps what i was looking forward to in this book, and it fell a little bit flat. there was little world building at all in Caraval.

i would have loved to see a defined influence in the story. it felt a little italian-inspired, but not enough to define it as something new. it was just a random world in the middle of nowhere. a relatively average fantasy world. nothing amazing.

we literally know nothing about how magic works in this world even though its obviously there.

i was mostly disappointed with the world building of this story. it's pretty two-dimensional besides Caraval itself. i would have also loved to have some development in the world beyond Caraval. it was mentioned in the beginning but never expanded upon after.

 i was expecting Caraval itself to be more, well, whimsical and amazing. instead, it just felt bland, made up of appearance alone and no depth whatsoever. this book was marketed as the ya Night Circus, but it was nowhere as wonderful as that amazing book.

i did mostly enjoy this aspect of the story. i liked the fact that the story was divided into the five nights of Caraval. the idea that tella was part of the game was interesting to me.

there were so many secrets and lies, and the entire vibe of the story was mysterious. the pacing was a little bit off, being a little slow at times. but dude. the last fifty pages of the book were intense and probably my favorite part. (probably because the story majorly picked up in pace)

buuuttt, because there were so many secrets and lies and "omg nothing is real," it got really confusing by the end. i didn't know what ended up being true, and everything got overcomplicated. 

me by the end of the book

i also liked the writing style. it was borderline this-makes-no-sense at times, but mostly, it was captivating a kind of beautiful. i always end up getting sucked into the stories that have beautiful language.

there was this weird thing where scarlett's moods and feelings were represented by colors though. it was kinda confusing and i didn't know what to think of it...

one last thing! the cover of this book is absolutely beautiful. that obviously influenced my decision  to buy it in the first place...

just look at it ahhhhh

rating: ★★★☆☆

i guess i would rate it closer to 3.5 stars. it was good, but i was expecting something utterly amazing that i would be ranting about for the next three years. that didn't happen. i know that i sound really critical of this book, but i swear that overall, i enjoyed it. it is kind of my job as a book blogger to break apart books as honestly as possible, right?

somehow, hyped books always end up disappointing me at least a little bit, and unfortunately, Caraval was no different.

have you read this book? were you disappointed or really happy with it or what?? any books lately that you've read based on hype? let me know!

xoxo, madeline


  1. Hm, a lot of the book bloggers I follow say that Caraval didn't live up to the hype, so you probably don't have the unpopular opinion. From what I've heard, the relationship between Scarlett and Julian is insta-lovey (like you said) and the characters were really flat. Still, I'll be checking it out myself. :P

    And right now, I'm reading ADSOM, and I wouldn't have if I hadn't heard about how popular it was in the book blogging world. XD It's a bit slow right now, but DEFINITELY intriguing.

    1. i've found that hype can go both ways! i would still recommend checking Caraval out!

  2. I originally wasn't going to read Caraval, but I read a preview a few weeks ago and it looked pretty well-written. I now intend to read it, but it's not a high priority. I loved hearing your thoughts! I hope reading all these underwhelmed reviews will help me be pleasantly surprised when I finally read it XD

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    1. i hope that you enjoy it!! even though i personally didn't love it, i would still recommend reading it!

  3. Great review! I enjoyed Caraval, but I only gave it four stars because of the characters. I definitely would have liked to have learned more about Legend too. Though I loved the setting itself, I agree there could've been more world building. I still really liked it though, and I'm excited for the upcoming companion novel (I believe?). :)

    1. the end really intrigued me and i think that i'll probably also be reading the companion novel!

  4. I've actually not heard of this book before... I might check it out, but I have some other books that I want to read first. =)


    1. i would definitely recommend checking it out! :)

  5. The hype kind of ruined this for me too. I still gave it 4 stars, but the hype created really high expectations it didn't meet. With any luck we'll be blown away by the sequel

    1. yeah, i think that i would have enjoyed it more without all the hype. i'm also hoping the sequel is amazing!

  6. i've heard quite a few people say they didn't like caraval. i really enjoyed it, but i think that's because i had rather low expectations before i went into it. i hate hype so much, it makes the book seem better than it is, and only leads to disappointment.

    1. i really wish that i had lower expectations going into it! it's always so hard for me to resist the hype though :(

  7. I've been wanting to check out this yummy muffin for a while, but I suspect it was more because of its aesthetics. Loved your review!

    1. secretly, i read it for that very reason... thanks for reading!!


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