Scarlett and Tella are sisters. They live on a small island and have never seen the outside world. Scarlett’s biggest prospect is her arranged marriage to a Count who she has never met. They have always dreamt of escaping their abusive father and journeying to the magical performance of Caraval, where the audience also play a part in the show. But is everything at Caraval as it seems?
Uggghh, this was so disappointing! I wanted to love this so much, but honestly it really wasn’t great. At all. The first thing that annoyed me instantly was the writing. Usually I love kind of creative, unusual, descriptive writing but this was just trying to do that but, lets be honest, failing. It kept describing things as tasting like something that literally you can’t taste. I have seen this done well before, in We Were Liars by E Lockhart. I know the writing in that annoyed people, but I personally loved it. I felt this book was trying to be like that, but it was almost trying too hard? The metaphors and descriptions didn’t flow, they just felt clunky, distracting and unneeded. It didn’t feel natural at all, I honestly stopped reading loads of times just to take in how bad some of the metaphors were.
Another awful thing about this book was the characters. This book really highlights the importance of having well thought out, developed, realistic characters in a book. Because the characters here were the opposite of that, and it really just made the book fall flat. Well, the characters weren’t the only thing that made it fall flat, but they were a large contributing factor. Scarlett was just soooo stupid! She had no personality, and apparently no brain. How many times did she have to be told that in the game, not everything was real? She was incapable of making an intelligent decision for herself, instead she had to rely on Julian, the male lead, to make all the decisions for her and look after her. What happened to strong female characters?! Also, I was expecting some strong sisterly bonds and all that, but it was never really shown. We just had Scarlett saying (for the entire book) oh I love my sister, I would do anything for her, and then all of her subsequent actions go against that. She also managed to fall in love with Julian within a day, and the next day she would be considering whether she loves her sister or Julian more. I could go on and on about the ridiculous characters in this book, but I will move on as it is probably getting boring for you all.
Moving on to what instantly struck me when they entered Caraval- the overwhelming similarities to the Night Circus. I adore that book, it is one of my favourite books EVER, and this book just blatantly copied it! I couldn’t believe it when they entered a shop for clocks, and then surprise surprise, the performance only happens at night! But this book was nowhere near on the level of the Night Circus, just making that clear. Nowhere near. It wasn’t just that though, this novel was basically a whole bunch of YA cliches and tropes in one book. It was SO predictable, none of the twists surprised me at all. I actually think that the whole it is all a game was a bit of a cop out, as it meant that all of the events that happened could just be reset…I don’t know, it just felt like an excuse to get the author out of actually having to come up with proper resolutions for all the characters in the situation they were actually in, instead she could just say none of it happened.
I’m going to end it there because I really don’t want to go on for paragraphs and paragraphs about how bad this book was, and I really apologise if this upset you and you love this book, but I am happy for you, I am glad you had a good reading experience, but I didn’t, and that is just my opinion. So please don’t hate me for it, and I’m really sorry for ranting so much about this one. Please feel welcome to comment with your opinion on this book, positive or negative, just be nice!
So just to summarise my overall verdict, I really felt that there weren’t any redeemable features of this book. The characters were so one dimensional, all of the female characters relied entirely on the men, and didn’t show any capability of independence or intelligence, which is just wrong. The plot was predictable, nothing new here at all. And it copied the Night Circus, one of my favourite books. And the writing was unbearable. Basically it just fell flat for me.