Rating : 2.5/5

 Everybody and their mom and their pet hummingbird was raving about how great this book was at the begging of the year so I just HAD TO go and read it. I don’t want to be left out ok please I crave attention and validation.

…and yes this book betrayed me like Brutus betrayed Caesar (big surprise there you saw the rating -you’re probably here to find out WHY I didn’t enjoy it, you want the salt).

Why does this always happen? E tu hype? Must I always be the salty aunt that stays in the corner and can’t have nice things??

My blurb: So you know that sweet exciting promising little blurb this book had? Yes the one with the circus and magic?? Yes THAT one! Now…take out the circus part…yup I know that is the whole setting….and that sisterly bond thing?? Yes take that out too! Now throw in a mysterious love interest that seems to be made out of @broodingYAhero’s tweets and a stale bread main character and BAM you got yourself a more accurate idea about this book.

….now onto the discussion and I command you grab some popcorn or any other snack of choice.

Be warned: I might just be a little saltier then usual in this review just because I so wanted to like this i was prepared to like it more then i actually did. And i am sad and i feel like i don’t get some kind of inside joke whenever that happens. So i sprinkle salt where i can and in this case it’s the blogpost that has suffered.


The Good

Let’s start with something good first shall we. Because of course I am a kind and sweet person like that.

It was enjoyable in the “oh it’s a YA book let’s not think about this too hard” kind of way. And yes I know that can’t be the ONLY reason I liked this book but hey trashy YA enjoyment has it’s perks. It did make me give it half stars after all.

Oh yes and there is also this quote that I found hilarious for some reason:

“ “Relax Crimson.”

“It’s Scarlet.”

“Same difference.” “

…it made me laugh ok I do express emotion sometimes. (on certain days, usually after a chocolate cake sacrifice has been made)

And…the cover lust is real with this one. Heart eyes all over the place because HOW DID IT MANAGE TO GET AN EVEN PRETTIER UK COVER?! Those are rare ones John let me tell you. But alas I do not own a physical copy of this book (hence the picture on my phone) and I am not going to buy one just for the aesthetic purposes.


The Bad

Buckle up kiddos you in for a ride.

-The Writing.

I was not a fan of the fancy flowery whimsically writing. I agree that a setting as whimsical as a circus can benefit from this style of writing. Only…this felt like I got the Target kind over the Channel (cough). I tolerated it but honestly it seemed forced and unnecessary most of the time. It needed to find it’s chill.

-The world building.

Is. so. sloppy. “Nothing is real”…yet it does that in such a bad way. What sense of the world I managed to grasp with my tiny little brain muscles was went back on time and time again. MAKE UP YOUR GODDAMN MIND BECAUSE THIS FELT LIKE YOU GOT LOST SAVING PINS ON PINTEREST.

Let me explain: Caraval was set in a theater but nope it’s like a town because that is more convenient. There are also canals like Venice and we need dangerous mysterious boats but next chapter (and for the rest of the book) we can all walk everywhere, water what water. There is no mention of it again ever so it must have vanished. Confused yet? That is what i mean when i say there is no continuity what so ever.

(…the only real thing here is my headache and tbh that shouldn’t be there…)

-The plot

….is also sloppy. We have to find clues but also random things like BUTTONS were a SIGN because Scarlet has seen them all over the place?? All good and dandy only… they were literally never mentioned before… like we were in your head you never saw a button how did you reach this mindblowing conclusion Scarlet?? Umm…well if everything is a sign now I say we follow the breadcrumbs because obviously they are clues and I am Sherlock *x-files theme plays*

The whole game is this stupid though: roses buttons and other dumb connections that only the main character saw and only when it was convinient.

-The convience. All of the convenince

The author LITERALLY changes the whole wold building/ characterisation/ ideas when it is convenient for the plot. THAT IS NOT HOW YOU FIX PLOT HOLES!!

There is suposedly a very “dangerous” curfrew and there is this intense scene at the beginning. But then…it’s never brought up again. Which is fine I guess because I never understood it in the first place.

-The characters

They are all stale as digestive crackers. Detailed list of their not so detailed traits below:

  • Scarlett: Your typical YA heroine. So typical it hurts. You could have put her in a contemporary romance novel and not change anything about her and she would fit even that mold perfectly. She also doesn’t really talk much?? Like she talks in her head a lot so she gives the impression that she is talking but she doesn’t actually get many dialogue lines?? And when she does want to talk SHE GETS TALKED OVER! AND IT PISSED ME OFF SO MUCH!!!
  • Julian: oh he’s hot and he has abs (all of the abs like seriously abs for days man does the dude even own a shirt please give him one he will get a cold) that will distract you from all the shitty stuff he does and he keeps secrets. Straight outta those parody accounts on twitter as i previously said.
  • Tella: Umm?? Oh yeah she has pretty blond hair. Nice 12/10 characterization.
  • Legend: The bad guy but he’s just there I guess i don’t really know. You know what’s worse than a “evil-for-the-shake-of-evil” villain ?? A villain that supposedly has deeper motives but it completely fails at that and it ends up bad.

 The weird thing this book does where it can’t decide on what it’s supposed to be. I mean I don’t really like putting age groups on books (because hello I started reading YA at 11 like a small rebel gremlin) but let’s just use the movie ratings for this one.

So this book was pretty PG-13. Ok cool. But then…it went deeper and darker?? I mean it has abuse, suicide, rape. And..it somehow still kept being PG-13?? WHY?? I really think this could have benefited from a darker tone, one that could really explore the deeper sides not just dip-your-toes-and-meh type of deal. So much so that it just doesn’t do either of them well : it ends up being a bad PG-13 at that and the dark parts are just not interesting or developed.

-Suicide being used as a plot device

It’s just bad man. Why not use something else for shock factor. It’s just lazy writing especially since it’s not handled as it properly *spoilers* [And then she still gets resurrected with magic and everything is fine. No it’s not. That is traumatic. And magic doesn’t happen in real life.]

-The Plot Twist

Look…I know the twist at the end explains everything…THE TWIST ITSELF WAS STUPID ALSO. Round of applause everybody. It left me so confused and I think it kinda makes the whole story pointless.

let’s not even talk about the whole instalove thing…my eyes rolled so hard they hurt…save my poor eyes they need a long vacation…

also there is this iconic part :

“the most intimate thing she’s ever done”

…was to suck the guys blood…just no pls stop this…WHY did this even get past the editor??


The things that made me go “what”

  • Everything has hispanic names : places, characters, etc. The descriptions of hair and features are also pretty latio-esc…only that it’s never addressed?? Why is this not addressed?? Not only that but it’s kind of just…glossed over…and…ignored…and never mentioned??…anyway I imagined them all as latino and I don’t think this should be white-washed in a movie adaptation.
  • When Scalett visits a fortune teller and he tells her she wants “love and protection” and she just goes “Isn’t that what every girl wants?” .Umm…no? I for one, not so discreetly wish for world domination thank you very much. Or magical powers that can help me achieve wold domination. Or food. And I sure am not the only one that has other things in mind besides love and protection.


Overall: A pretty big disappointment that left me wanting to go read an ACTUAL book about an ACTUAL circus. (coughNiGHTCIRCUScough when will i get to you i wonder because my tbr pile is eating me). And i know that i sound really mean in the review but i actually did enjoy the book. It’s pretty fun if you want a mindless fast read and maybe, who knows, this has all been a mandela effect and i read OTHER book then everyone else. Because that is how it feels every time i don’t enjoy a popular book. *x-files theme plays again*



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.




What did you guys think about this book?? Did it leave up to the hype for you? Or was it a complete let down? Let me know all of your thoughts in the comments.



4 thoughts on “Caraval by Stephanie Garber // oh how the hype let me down

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