Spoiler alert: this book sucks.
If anyone in my life recommends a book to me, I’m going to read it. Doesn’t matter what it is, if it gives me an excuse to talk about a book with someone, I’m going to read it. Which is how Caraval fell into my lap.
For those of you haven’t been paying attention, while YA isn’t my fav, mysteries are. And based on the inside fold of this book, I was intrigued by the plot. WHICH IS WHY THIS WAS SUCH A LET DOWN.
Scarlett has always dreamed of attending the elaborate, interactive performance event Caraval. Caraval is put on by the mysterious ringleader, Legend. Despite all the letters she’s written to Legend, she and her sister Tella have never left their tiny island, or their abusive father’s presence, to participate. And with Scarlett being set up in an arranged marriage, she never will. Until mysteriously, and in a suspiciously simultaneous move, tickets to Caraval and a strange guy appear. A guy who’s making out with Tella, btw.
Then under other suspicious circumstances, Scarlett and this guy end up at Caraval. Scarlett’s finally getting her wish, all she has to do is be home in time to get married. But plot twist, Tella has been kidnapped by Legend. Scarlett and the guy, who’s name I legit cannot even remember now, have to follow a series of clues to get her back and then find their way home. But when the Caraval feels all too real, it’s hard to remember it’s all just a game. Or is it?????
Intriguing right? Maybe not super original, but interesting enough that I was excited to see how it unfolded.
Short answer, not well.
Long answer, very poorly. The Caraval is so secretive that we know nothing about it before getting there, and then continue to know almost nothing the whole book. The rules change without reason, things conveniently appear and disappear, characters are introduced and seem like they could be important and then are never seen again. We’re never given any indication that the correct clue was found, they just go on to the next one and hope for the best.
I understand some of it is the nature of a mysterious game, but this felt too unplanned. Often the moves seemed like chaos or a whim than actually contributing to the plot. Not to mention the characters are the worst. Scarlett, SPOILER ALERT, falls for the guy who was making out with her sister even though they have the weirdest/worst relationship. She also goes on and on, and on, about how she cares for her sister and how she has to help her. Yeah, no. It sounds like she feels like she should be looking out for her sister but is faking it.