Caraval – Book Review

I finally finished Caraval by Stephanie Garber this week! I’m using the word finally because it took me almost three weeks to finish it, which is an unusually long time for me. Part of the reason why it took me so long to finish it is that I recently started a full-time job and I’m still trying to figure out how to balance work and reading. The other reason why it took me so long is that it took me a really long time to get into. 

The description on Goodreads for Caraval says:

“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.”

As I mentioned before, it took me a really long time to get into Caraval. The main reason for this is because I found Scarlett, the main character, to be incredibly annoying. I found her whiny, illogical, and unable to save herself. Fortunately, as the book progressed, Scarlett grew as a character and started to become a little bit more independent and I found her to be slightly less annoying and this gave me the willpower to finish the book.

The character that helped me get through the book was Julian. I found Julian’s character to be mysterious and I kept on changing my mind about whether he was good or evil and whether I liked his character. A quick side note about Julian though, and male characters in general, why does it seem like the majority of male characters are described as having perfect bodies or being imperfectly perfect? It seems like it’s always “oh his abs are amazing” or “he has a sexy scar” or something about their smile being unique or odd and devastatingly charming. 


The tagline, for lack of a better word, for Caraval is “Remember, it’s only a game.” This is an excellent tagline because the book does a good job of blurring the lines between what is and is not real. Caraval is a game and both the players and the readers need to remember that, they also need to remember that during a game there are still aspects that are real. It’s like when you’re playing Monopoly with your friends, it’s just a game and you aren’t actually buying up properties, but the human aspects of lies and deceit (and rage quitting) are real. This blurring between the game and reality made the book interesting and also made me want to finish it. 

The one thing that I really enjoyed about Caraval is the island that Caraval takes place on. It’s a magical world and the way it was described makes me wish I could jump into the book and explore the magic. I also wish I could steal the dress Scarlett wears during the first half of the book because it would make my life so much easier. 

Caraval isn’t the type of book that I would normally pick up. First of all, it’s a young adult book and I don’t pick those up as often as I use to. I find that I tend to get very frustrated with the characters and the cliches and this drives me away from the genre. The reason why I bought Caraval is that it was pretty and because the bookstagram community loves it. I’m glad I picked it up and decided to read it because at least now I have an idea what people are talking about. I can see why people love the book, I just feel like I might be a little too over YA books to fully appreciate it. 

Overall, I was fairly indifferent to this book. I’ll probably read the sequel when it comes out because I’m curious about what happens next and because I find the world Caraval takes place in to be intriguing and magical. At the very least I’ll probably end up buying the sequel so it can sit on my shelf and look pretty. 


Rating 3.5/5 Stars!


  1. I just finished it last night and feel very much the same. For me, I felt like it was a bit overhyped so when I actually got to it the twists weren’t as good and the magic wasn’t as spectacular. Like with The Night Circus, I hoped it would be darker than it was!

    • Overhyped is the best word for it! When you have so many people saying that it was amazing and the best book they’ve read in 2017, it just fell short.

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