Book Review | Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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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.




(beware of spoilers)

I don’t know where to start. As you probably know, I was ecstatic to read Caraval. I couldn’t wait to read it when I got it in the mail. This book was such a disappointment. It seems like many people really enjoyed this book, but I didn’t.

The story takes place in Caraval, which is similar to a circus or a carnival. Scarlett has always wanted to go since she was a little girl. But she never got any response to her letters begging for tickets. When Scarlett is seventeen, she receives an answer, with three tickets to Caraval. One for her, her sister, Tella, and Scarlett’s fiancé. When they arrive, Tella disappears. The game has started. Scarlett has to get her sister back by winning the game and gets granted one wish.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved some aspects of this story. It started out great! It was fast paced, I literally flew trough this book. The story also had a dark vibe to it. I didn’t expect that so I was pleasantly surprised and made me give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

The writing style was very descriptive and the metaphors the author used didn’t always make a lot of sense. Here are some examples:

“The world tasted like lies and ashes when Scarlett woke.”

“It smelled like the middle of the night”

“He tasted like midnight and wind”

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When I realized that Julian was Scarlet’s love interest, it all went downhill. This romance wasn’t for me. I didn’t feel the chemistry and thought it to be very cliché. It was rather annoying. Julian didn’t come off as a bad boy to me. Overall, I cringed too many times to accept this romance. Like, the scene with the finger licking?

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I’m sorry if you do ship them. It was not my cup of tea.

Scarlett is protective and brave, although she wouldn’t admit it herself. But she could be so naive at times! It frustrated me that she even gave Julian a chance, to be honest. She met him when she caught him kissing her sister. I would’ve lost all interest in that boy. Certainly, when it was obvious he was only using her sister for his own pleasure.

Scarlett didn’t have enough depth for me to like her. Her emotions were all over the place. One moment, she was persistent to save her sister and couldn’t care less about boys. Two seconds later, she was gushing about how muscled Julian’s exotic body was and could simply eat out of his hand. I wanted her to be more confident and independent. I didn’t get that impression from this book.

There was one scene in the story that really upset me: when Scarlet wasn’t entierly sure she’d choose to save her sister over a boy she happened to fall in love with. She has only known him for less than a week!

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Soon after, she did assure she would want her sister to come back to life, but I couldn’t erase the thoughts from my head. She shouldn’t hesitate one second to save her sister!

I disliked how the story ended. It all went too easy. Letting everyone come back to life was unoriginal and bland. I would’ve appreciated the story much more if one of them stayed dead, honestly. Julian and Scarlett will live happily every after. Tella is back to being her normal, ‘wild’ self. And Scarlett and Tella don’t have to worry about their father anymore. It’s like the game hasn’t affected anyone permanently. I would’ve been scarred for life.

The author should’ve left some mystery to Caraval.


This book did not live up to its potential. I loved the world, the mysteriousness, and darkness about Caraval, but disliked the characters and writing style. I would still recommend you to read this book to experience the world of Caraval for yourself. Opinions are personal, so you could really enjoy this book.

What do you think of this book becoming a movie? 

Thank you so much for reading!liesje


4 thoughts on “Book Review | Caraval by Stephanie Garber

  1. I just finished this today! I actually really enjoyed it, but I understand why you found it problematic. Scarlett was not the best main character, she was naive and at times, well, boring. The insta-love was really annoying. As was Scarlett going from “I must save Tella” to “Why won’t Julian love me?” in 3 seconds. What I loved about the book was the setting – I thought the world of Caraval was fantastic but the magic in it wasn’t explained very well.
    Though the ending was too perfect to be true, I am excited to see what happens in the next book because of what the note that Legend gave to Tella said.
    Great review! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I did love that cliffhanger 🙂 I loved Caraval for the same reasons you did, only the romance changed my general opinon of this book. I’m glad you liked it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t worry, it didn’t live up to my expectations either! I kinda liked Julian, but I got really annoyed with Scarlet’s indecisiveness between Julian and her sister. I also wasn’t as fond of the ending. Great review 💕

    Liked by 1 person

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