A Non-Fantasy Reader’s Take on Caraval

I’ve recently discovered the world of ‘Book-tube’ on YouTube. ‘Book-tube’ is a space where people talk about all things books, including reviews, new releases, and what’s on their TBR (a new phrase for me meaning To Be Read). Over the past month or so, I’ve discovered so many cool people who post about books. This is perfect timing for me, as I’ve made a goal for the year to do more reading. Specifically, I want to read 15 books for the year.

As you may recalled I wrote a post on, When Breath Becomes Air, which was my first book of the year. I’m back again to talk about my latest read, Caraval by Stephanie Garber.

I have to give it to the book-tube community for peaking my interest about this book. At first glance this book would have never been on my radar 1. Because it’s a fantasy read, 2. It’s a young adult novel. Not typically the type of book that I would go for. However, once I tucked into the book, I finished it in 3 days.

Here’s a brief summary. Caraval follow the story of two sisters, Scarlett and Tella who have grown up under the cruel hold of their father on a secluded island. The sisters then end up getting an invitation to attend Caraval, a magical performance/game where attendees participate. The rest of the story tells of the 5 nights of Caraval and all the drama that ensues.

As a reader who generally doesn’t enjoy fantasy, here are a few reasons why everyone should consider picking this one up anyway.

1. The world of Caraval

As you might imagine, most of the novel happens at Caraval and Garber does a fine job of creating this magical world. She uses every sense to help build the world, including uniquely our sense of smell. Even her use of colour provided an additional level of mystery. For example, Garber describes death as the colour purple. Since Caraval is a magical land, many of the events that occur are not plausible; however, the atmosphere of the novel made me believe these things were possible. The atmosphere did a great job in blurring the lines between reality and performance.

2. The sisterhood

I thought that the relationship between Scarlett and Telle was written so well. In many ways their relationships was the focus of the novel. Even as the sisters interacted with many memorable characters, their focus was on each other.

3. The pacing

The pacing of the novel was another aspect that worked well for this book. One of the main themes of the novel was time, and how it was sometimes morphed in Caraval. For example, the participants play the game at night, and the introduction of the world was in a clock shop, which really helped to set up time as an important aspect of the story. We also follow the characters as they try to complete Caraval in 5 nights. That being said, from a reader’s perspective, I thought that the passing of the novel keep my hooked, with unexpected twists and the introduction of new interesting characters.

4. The wrap-up

It wasn’t until I was well into the book that I discovered that Caraval was going to be series. That said, I thought that the ending was really great in both tying up loose ends, and leaving some mysteries unsolved to carry into the second book. I also loved that I was on my toes until the very last few pages.

Overall, I’m really pleased I gave this book a shot. I was easy for me to put myself into the world of Caraval. Although this book just came out last month, I am very much looking forward to reading the 2nd one in the series soon.

If you have any other book suggests shoot me a tweet @TabithaDavid.

3/15 book of 2017


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