Book Review: Caraval

I have never loved a plot so much while also viscerally hating the way it’s written. 

Scarlet and her sister, Donatella, have always dreamed of going to Caraval, a msterious and magical performance that occurs once a year. This year, Scarlet and Tella sneak away from their abusive home to experience it before Scarlet gets married.  But when Tella is taken as part of the game, Scarlett must figure out where her sister is, and what parts of the game are real, before it’s too late.

Let me start by saying that Scarlet is the most annoying narrator ever. I did a little search in the book after I finished reading, and although Tella is only in about 50 of the pages, she is mentioned over six. hundred. times. Literally. Every single page is filled with how worried Scarlet is, and what bad choices Tella makes, and blah blah blah. It got so old, so fast.

Plus, Scarlet experiences her emotions as colors, which pops up in awkward and strange descriptions. I think the technique could have been really cool, but it was not implemented well. There were way to many metaphors that got in the way of being able to appreciate the magic of the storyline. 

The story itself though, was awesome. I was a little bit reminded of the night circus in terms of the whimsy and creativity of the world. Although the night circus was a lot slower, and focused on the details of the circus, this book was more plot focused. Actually, I think if you combined Morgenstern’s writing with this plot, bam, that would be a perfect read. 

The best part of the book by far was its unpredictability. The fact that people we’re warned at the beginning of Caraval not to believe anything, but then getting to see how unsure Scarlett became about her reality definitely added to the suspense. That alone kept me turning pages through the torturous inner monologues.

As the next book is narrated by Tella, I have some hopes that the writing itself will improve. Although, I think even if it doesn’t I will have to continue with the series, if only to experience the wonders of Caraval a little longer.

Happy reading (:

Rating: 3/5
Pacing: medium-fast
Intended audience: YA
Content warnings: parental abuse, suicide

Favorite Friday topic: favorite book that made you cry

37 thoughts on “Book Review: Caraval

  1. What helped me get through the book is that personally I really liked Scarlett and found her developing romance with Julian worthwhile. The next book is okay but the last one is gets way better!

    I’m so interested for you to finally meet Jacks as well!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have this book on my TBR since forever, but I can’t make up my mind and read it, for whatever reason! But I am glad you enjoyed it, even if what you wrote about Scarlet isn’t promising, I think I would hate her!! But what you wrote about the plot is promising, so I hope to make up my mind and read this one, sooner or later!

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  3. I just bought this series the other day when I found them on offer. I’ve wanted to read them for such a long time. I’ve heard from other reviewers that the writing style is very strange but I am hoping ill be able to grin and bear it if the story is good!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is one that I’ve been wanting to read for awhile, because the plot sounded good, but it also sounded like it could really easily fall into not being well written. Sad to hear that the writing didn’t hold up to the story

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  5. This was exactly my reaction! The only reason I finished was because I wanted to know what ended up being real and what wasn’t. Scarlett was so frustrating at times I almost wonder if the author made her that way on purpose, and was hoping she might have an arc throughout the next few books?

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  6. I totally get what you’re saying. While I found the plot was really amazing and the other characters were enjoyable, it took a lot of getting used to Scarlett’s POV. I eventually became numb to it, though😂

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  7. I thought the writing style was very off putting too! Found myself huffing with frustration ever few pages – I only finished because I’m a glutton for punishment and NEEDED to know the ending. Won’t be continuing with the series though 😅

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  8. ‘I have never loved a plot so much while also viscerally hating the way it’s written.’ — This really made me laugh. I’ve had this on my radar for a while. I think I might have to pick it up soon just to see what it’s all about!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I remember enjoying the atmosphere and mystery aspect of this series, there’s also an interesting character that gets introduced in book 2, but looking back this series is probably not an all-time favorite, but very fun! I love the fact that you mentioned Tella is barely in the book, but mentioned over 600 times, I never realized that! WOW 😂

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  10. Ah, I hate that, when a good, innovative story gets nearly obscured by poorly executed writing. It sounds like you were still able to enjoy the book in the end, so I’m glad for that. With Terry Brooks’ Magical Kingdom of Landover series, I ended up just giving up after the second book. There were so many cool ideas in those books, but the narrative style was the worst example of telling rather than showing, and main character was such a numbskull. 😔

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  11. I think this is in my goodreads to-read list somewhere – I thought it sounded interesting but I never seem to add it to tbrs. Sounds like I’d be really annoyed by the writing though.

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  12. I had similar thoughts and feelings as yours about the narrator, and the story also reminded me of The Night Circus. But for all of its irritating things that “just happen” for no reason, there is something about the plot and the story itself that makes me still love it. I waffled forever on what to rate this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I was so excited about this book when it first came out but I started reading it and never went back to it. I think I have it on my shelf at the house. I know this book was over hyped but it did sound interesting. I’m not sure but I’ll probably give it another go and see what happens even though I have slow reads.


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