=> Shelf-Discipline September continues! I’m clearing my bookshelves one book at a time, and this extremely popular YA novel got drawn next out of my title jar. It appears I got an invitation to Caraval! <=
Author: Stephanie Garber
(3.95 stars – Goodreads rating)
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Mystery / YA
Publication Date: January 31, 2017, Flatiron Books
Pages: 407 (Hardcover)
Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world.Annalise – Caraval
I’m OK with admitting it when I make mistakes. I wish I could say that it doesn’t happen often, so I don’t have to bother with many admissions; however, that is not the case! Early on in my reading “career”, I made a vow not to compare books with other books, but to judge them on their own merit. So, you’ll rarely see me stating, “Oh, I liked this book, ABC, but it wasn’t nearly as good as XYZ.” I don’t think that’s fair and if I wrote books, it would annoy me immensely. So I try my hardest not to do it.
So before I admit to my transgression, let’s talk about what Caraval was all about. Here’s the blurb:
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.
Some things are worth pursuit regardless of the cost.Aiko, Caraval
So there’s an exclusive performance, a pretty young woman who’s wishing on a star, and some pretty devious guys pulling more than a few magical strings to manipulate one totally unsuspecting person. The secrets have secrets in this one, folks.
Caraval started off with a promise of some pretty scandalous acts taking place in order to rescue a helpless young woman. Which one? Pick one, because they both needed saving in more than one way. Their dad is a nightmare, they live on a conquered island (doesn’t sound like white beaches and mojitos to me), and their only escape is to be bartered off like cattle to men from other lands. Not my idea of a good time.
Enter Caraval. The ladies get invited, they go (one more willingly than the other), and they embark on an adventure that proves to be mysterious… and deadly. So, what doesn’t sound intriguing and exciting about all that. Nothing! So, why did I rate it only 3 stars? Here’s where we circle back around to my confession…
Once people leave this isle, the things they’ve done here don’t just unhappen, no matter how much they might wish them undone.Legend, Caraval
I compared this book with another. <Gasp!> I know, I know. I shouldn’t do it, I told myself I wouldn’t do it, but the stars aligned such that I drew Caraval’s title out of my title jar for Shelf-Discipline month right after I read The Night Circus. What can I say? Fate is sloppy.
If you follow me, then you may have already read last week’s blog where I gushed about how much I loved The Night Circus and how captivating it is, yada yada. And, now, reading another book with a similar setting – a magical carnival-like performance for the public – well, a comparison between the two just can’t be denied. And The Night Circus came out on top; it’s as simple as that.
Now let me clean this up a bit: Caraval is the first book of a trilogy and it has its die-hard fans. Not adding me to that list will not hurt sales for this book one little bit. Is it a bad book? No, it is not. It has a very strong YA feel (well, duh) and readers who aren’t put off by a few classic tropes (insta-love, hate-becomes-love, and conservative spirit vs free-spirit) may enjoy the character dynamics and the valiant attempts at plot-twistery. (It’s a word!)
So, if you love the idea of trying to solve a mystery in the setting of a color-changing carnival where literally everyone is lying and there’s a god-awful lot of tunnels and top hats, then this just might be the best book you’ve read all year. Just do yourself a favor and don’t compare it to other
better books as you read!
When she’s not writing, she teaches creative writing at a private college in Northern California, where she’s been known to turn assignments into games and take students on field trips that involve book signings. Now that her dream of becoming a published author has come true, her new dream is to visit Club 33 at Disneyland. –http://stephaniegarberauthor.com