Thursday, May 3, 2018

Caraval (Caraval, #1) by Stephanie Garber

Narrated by Rebecca Soler
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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 faraway, 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. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…
beware of getting swept too far away. 
“She imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out.”
Okay, so I feel like this needs to be addressed: Why didn't anyone bathe?? Hear me out... Scarlett and Julian are staying in a really nice place with a fancy bed, roaring fireplace, and all that jazz. However, it never mentions them brushing their teeth, showering, or even changing clothes. I understand Scarlett's dress transformed into whatever she needed it to be (or was based on her mood... it was unclear), but that also means she never took it off.

I know bathroom breaks aren't always discussed in books, but sometimes characters need to be concerned with hygiene. They were caught in the rain more than once, traversed underground tunnels, and fell into the ocean. Were they magically cleaned? Did their clothes rub them down while they slept so they woke up refreshed? *highlight to view spoiler» They were both dead for 24 hours and neither of them were worried about corpse-breath or smelling like decay.

Next on the list: everything had a color or a smell. Why was Scarlett able to see colors and smells around certain objects, places and people? It never made sense to me, and it wasn't explained. She smelled anise and rotting plums around her father, but then something else would have a hue of periwinkle blue. She does mention being the only one that can do that, or only being able to see them in relation to herself, but nothing about what it actually means. If you know why this happened, please let me know! Maybe I missed something?

There were also a lot of similarities between this book and Marissa Meyer's The Lunar Chronicles and Heartless. 
  1. Rebecca Soler is the narrator (love her!)
  2. Caraval has a Scarlett and The Lunar Chronicles has a Scarlet
  3. There is an Iko (unsure about the spelling since they were both audiobooks) in The Lunar Chronicles and Caraval 
  4. Caraval and Heartless each contain a gentlemen with a black heart tattooed on their person
  5. There is a haberdashery in both Caraval and Heartless
Those are just a few of the major things that stood out, and I believe there were others I had written down. I seriously doubt the similarities were intentional, but they popped out at me since Cinder and Scarlet were two of my recent reads. Heartless is just unforgettable. ♥

I know this book had a lot of hype surrounding it, but I ended up feeling underwhelmed. The characters were unlikable (especially Scarlett), and they made bad decision after bad decision. It was an endless loop of, "Why the flark would you do that??" 

The mystery surrounding Caraval is what saved it for me. I was actually incredibly invested in the game they were playing, so I wanted to see if my assumptions were correct. I never expected the various twists and turns that fill the pages of this book, and I enjoyed how nothing was what it appeared to be. 

In the end, this wasn't a good fit for me. I didn't like the characters (con), the setting was terrifically trippy (pro), but the overall story was missing the magic that makes me want to never stop reading. I do plan on reading Legendary, because I believe it's from her sister's perspective, and the world was interesting. 

45 comments:

  1. Okay, I've been wanting to read this after all the hype, but that hygiene thing--WHAT. I can get past books not mentioning any sort of cleaning up, but wearing the SAME piece of magical clothing without taking a bath!? Good Lord, woman, that's horrible. xD Thanks for the heads up, Lindsi!

    - Aimee @ Aimee, Always

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    1. I don't usually notice when a book doesn't mention hygiene-related things, but this one made it obvious that they were not taking better care of themselves. Like, her dress is tattered at one point and she doesn't really seem to care, but more importantly... she never seemed to want to bathe or brush her teeth. It was never a thought or a concern. She had the means, just not the motivation.

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  2. I wasn't wowed by this one, either. Scarlett was a pretty lame character. I'm glad the next book is from her sister's POV!

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    1. Scarlett made me CRAZY. Her decisions rarely made sense, and she would get fixated on something and completely miss everything else going on around her. She needed to be more aware of her surroundings and open to new experiences. A little backbone wouldn't have hurt...

      We'll see how the next book goes!

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  3. Oh my gosh, I never realized there was never any bathing! Eeek! I was all about Julian but not after he doesn't brush his grimy teeth! ahaha!

    I'm sorry the hype didn't match the read for you, that is always kind of a bummer! But at least you liked a few things! The world was pretty trippy. I'm hoping to see more of it in the sequel! You'll have to let me know if Legendary is a better fit for ya!

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    1. Have fun kissing Julian with his fuzzy caterpillar teeth! 🤢

      It's okay! Not every book is going to work out! There's always the next one... (and I'm really hoping Legendary is a better fit). I'll let you know!

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  4. lol I love what you noticed about the bathroom. It's a book I'm quite curious about because I heard a lot about it but sorry to hear it wasn't more for you

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    1. I'm going to try the second one, Legendary, and I really hope it works out. I enjoyed the setting for the story, but some of the things that happen were... weird. They didn't always make sense, or just fell into place on their own. A few parts were a little too convenient for my liking.

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  5. Oi! This one sounds like it has some major issues. I’ve only heard people praise it so I’ve got a copy somewhere but now I’ll go into it more levelheaded. Thabks.

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    1. Same! All the reviews I saw for this were filled with praise and excitement, which I think led to me being more disappointed than I would have been. My expectations were high going into it, but then a lot went wrong for me. I can't wait to see what you think!

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  6. I dnf'd this one a while back. I thought it might be that I tried it when it was super hyped but I guess I made the right call.

    My peeve in books is bathing and sleeping. You really neeeed to do both lol

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I almost DNF'd it! Like I said, the mystery saved it for me. I really wanted to know about Legend and what happened to her sister. Many twists later... I still don't really know who Legend is, but other things were answered. I didn't care for her sister in this book, but I've read some early reviews that say her POV is much better.

      I didn't really notice the bathing/sleeping thing until recently! They're both essential aspects to living (for the most part--there are extreme circumstances), so it would be nice if they were mentioned in the story. It doesn't have to go into detail, but even referencing that it happened would help.

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  7. Ahem, euwwww on that spoiler. Yes please please bathe

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    1. Right?! Why wasn't that more of a concern?? It would probably have been my FIRST thought.

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  8. Characters make the book and if they're unlikable it just makes it so hard to like the book.

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    1. Agreed! If I wasn't so invested in the mystery of it all, I would have DNF'd it about halfway through.

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  9. Aww that's too bad you didn't enjoy it! I've heard so many good things and have it as one of my top-of-the-list to-reads.

    --Sam @ Sharing Inspired Kreations

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    1. Hopefully it's a better fit for you! Sometimes my negatives are your positives, or we just view things differently. <3 All we can do is try to find books that resonate with us and make us happy (or sad depending on what you like).

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  10. You know, sometimes that irks me too, when they neglect to address bathing or various things. And them sometimes it doesn't... just depends on the book I guess. sometimes it adds realism? But sorry to hear this wasn't a great fit. TBH I've been wavering on this series- part of me wants to read it but I've seen some meh reviews too, so... I'll keep wavering. :)

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    1. Agreed! There have been plenty of books that neglect hygiene, but it isn't something extremely obvious. Other times I find myself thinking, "Um, you haven't brushed your teeth for months!" I don't know what makes it stand out in some books, but not others. I just know that it was really noticeable in this one.

      Don't waver too long! I'm sure you could read the first quarter of this book and make a decision. You get a pretty good feel for the story early on, but if you enjoy the mystery (like me), you'll be stuck listening to Scarlett spout nonsense.

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  11. Caraval was a mixed bag for me as well. When I finished reading, it seemed like I had a similar list of random questions/issues that just didn't sit well with me. I also didn't find Scarlett to be especially likable. I am still excited for the sequel though, mainly because it focuses more on Tella, who was actually my favorite character in Caraval. We'll see how that one goes, lol. Great review!

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    1. I thought there would be more of a resolution at the end, but we're just presented with additional questions. I also thought the answers we were given seemed a little tooo convenient, or didn't always make sense. I'm hoping Tella's perspective is better!

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  12. I do think synesthesia came into play with Scarlett, it's something difficult to explain but like if I hear a noise, I also see a flash of colour, and all noises have different colours and shapes. It's weird but my normal.
    But yeah I wasn't a huge fan of Caraval, and I ended up DNF-ing around 1/4 in. I just couldn't bring myself to read on because I didn't like the characters, they all felt pretty 2D.
    Cora | http://www.teapartyprincess.co.uk/

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    1. I've never heard of synesthesia, but I'll definitely look it up later! I don't think it's weird, but I do wish the author had been more informative. Does Scarlett have synesthesia, or is there some magical element that we're not aware of yet?

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  13. Ravenclaw!! Glad you found us, thanks and great to meet you!
    My coblogber read this one and also was underwhelmed. Sad for the book haha.

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    1. I feel like I've met a lot of Ravenclaws recently! It's always disappointing when a book doesn't meet expectations. Is your co-blogger planning on reading Legendary?

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  14. lol - I had similar thoughts for other books regarding the whole hygiene thing. I've been on the fence about reading this; I just can't seem to find the motivation to. I have a feeling I won't miss out too much if I don't.

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    1. I was so excited about starting this because I loved the idea behind the game, but I was really disappointed and seriously considered not finishing it. The mystery was intriguing, so I wasn't able to fully give it up!

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  15. I STILL haven't been able to get my hands on this one! I kept debating buying a copy, but after reading your thoughts, I think I will wait for my library hold :) Thanks for your honest opinion, as usual! :)

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    1. Personally, I think you should read your library copy and then decide if you want to buy it afterwards! I had really high expectations for this, but I couldn't fully commit to the story. Scarlett made me crazy, and so did the explanations for a lot of things. I hope you end up liking it more than I did! :)

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  16. Haha...yes hygiene issues irk me too. I just read a book where she says she needs to shower as she smells ripe but it took several scenes before that happened. I started stressing about it.

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    1. Right? It's like once I realize someone needs to bathe, pee, brush their teeth, etc., my brain focuses on that until it happens, or continues to stress if it doesn't.

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  17. WOW! This is the best review I've ever read about this series Lindsi! I have to say that no one ever mentioned any of this in their raving! Not bathe?! I think that is mentioned at least a couple times on other books especially when travel is involved! It does still sound intriguing but I do dislike stupid characters... ❤ I've been on the fence about this book for a long time but I do love the idea of the mystery.

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    1. Thank you! The mystery was my favorite part about this book! I never knew what was going to happen next, and I loved trying to piece information together. However, sometimes the answers seemed to just fall into her lap, and I wish it had been a little more difficult.

      Scarlett wasn't likeable. At. All. I couldn't find any redeeming qualities about her, and I really wanted to shake her and tell her to THINK before she acts. A lot of problems could have been avoided if she'd either a) listened to someone else, b) stopped obsessing over one thing and ignoring everything else, c) stood up to her father, and d) actually played the game instead of waiting on others.

      However, I do think you should read it in case it works for you! You never know... you might experience the story in a completely different way. :)

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  18. I get so swept up in the story, I don't even notice if they don't eat or bathe or sleep for that matter, but now I will probably be looking for it. XD

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    1. Sorry, haha! That's the thing... I don't always notice it. There have been a few times when something happens and I think, "Wait, why haven't they taken a shower or scrubbed themselves in river?" Other books talk about it offhandedly, but at least it's there. I'm not sure what actually makes it a conscious thought in my mind. Maybe it was that she kept talking about the dress and how it would change, but then nothing about how *she* would change (or at least wash).

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  19. huh the cleaning thing never poppued up in my head when reading haha. i really enjoyed reading the book and your review but it is definitely one of those books that i liked more when reading than when i was thinking back on it afterwards

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    1. I completely understand! I was so caught up in the mystery and the game, but looking back I realized that was one of the only things I enjoyed about the book. The hygiene issue popped up when she ---- and then woke up like nothing happened.

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  20. I haven't read this yet but I don't think that I would have even thought about basic hygiene. I guess I just assume it happens but we didn't need to know about it? I do have this one coming up so I am sorry to hear that it wasn't a bit better for you. Great review!

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    1. I really hope you enjoy it! Hygiene and cleanliness aren't usually things I notice in books (like you, I just assume they happen), but there was something about Caraval that made it stand out. It was glaringly obvious that she hadn't bathed and probably needed to.

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  21. This has been on my TBR for ages. It is frustrating when a book continues to remind you of another book over and over again, it always takes me out of the story. It also drives me crazy when characters make dumb decisions without much reasoning behind them. Seems like another book that might have been over-hyped. Nice review!

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    1. They weren't subtle similarities either... the name Iko isn't common (at least not in books I've read), and there were so many that I couldn't possibly ignore them all. Again, I doubt it was intentional, but like you said... it took me away from the story and made me think about something else.

      Scarlett was one of the more frustrating characters I've read about. She was so focused on one thing (that we hear about over and over again) that she's blinded to everything else around her. Her decisions reflect what she's focused on, but it doesn't do anything for the reality of her situation.

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  22. This one is on my list to read soon following with Legendary right after. I will probably feel a little like you since likable characters is a big thing for me and if I don't... well, that pretty much ruins a story. We'll see though. Great review!

    Tressa @ Wishful Endings

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    1. I hope it works for you! I wasn't going to read Legendary at first, but then I discovered it was told through Tella's perspective. Since I enjoyed the world, I decided to read Legendary to see if a different character makes it a better experience overall.

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    2. ...and yes, unlikable characters can completely ruin a story, lol.

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