Rating: 5 Stars.
Well, let me just begin with this: Caraval will more than likely be one of my top five favourite books of 2017. I’ll probably go through about 100 more books this year and I still feel comfortable saying that so early on in 2017.
Short Summary: Scarlett is thrown into the show that is Caraval – a yearly magical performance piece, a game that turns into a lot more than she had expected when her sister is kidnapped.
Things I loved: There was a lot I loved about this piece. Firstly, the whimsical and magical writing style that pulled me in deep into the world of Caraval. The book plays with themes and images of night, colour, darkness, that are intricately woven throughout the piece creating a truly multisensory experience. It felt like this book gave me synesthesia.
“He tasted like midnight and wind, and shades of rich brown and light blue. Colors that made her feel safe and guarded.”
The romance was beautiful. I haven’t had a romance that’s really made me feel feelings in a while, and it was really nice to get lost in the connection between the main characters. The tension was real, the conflict pushed the story forward, it was exactly what I’d wanted.
“Not quite sure how far she’d already fallen, she imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars came out.”
“He mumbled words against her lips, too low for her to hear, but she imagined she got a strong impression of what he wanted to say, as he coaxed her lips apart, letting Scarlett taste the coolness of his tongue and the tips of his teeth as he grazed her lower lip. Every touch created colours she had never seen. Colours as soft as velvet and as sharp as sparks that turned into stars.”
Things I didn’t like: It’s hard to say. One of the greatest assets this book has is its ability to keep you guessing, keep you in the mystery of what it all means and how everything will fit together. Part of me wanted a few more hints throughout the book so there wasn’t such an info-dump so close to the end. But, it’s not unlike the way that Harry Potter all seems to come together in the end with information we didn’t know yet. Its more about personal preference.
One thing I hear a lot is its comparison to the Night Circus, which doesn’t surprise me. There is a lot that is similar, but this book sacrifices the descriptions for intrigue and character. While magic plays a central role, the main character wields no real magic of her own. The Night Circus is more of an extension of the reality we all know, understand and question, where Caraval is an entirely separate reality.
Recommendation: I would definitely throw this into my middle school library. I’d call it a mix between a character and setting driven book – so if that’s your thing, sink your teeth right into it, but be prepared for that book hangover.