Is it magic or is it illusion?


Scarlett Dragna's whole life has been confined to a small island where she lives with her rebellious sister, Tella, and their controlling father. Scarlett’s one wish has always been to attend Caraval, a magical invitation-only game held by Legend, a mysterious man with unimaginable powers. As her arranged marriage gets closer, it seems her dream will never come true. Then her invitation arrives. With the help of a boy named Julian, Scarlett and Tella escape the island and finally experience Caraval. When (as part of the game) Tella is kidnapped, Scarlett’s only hope of saving her is to win the game. She has five days. Nothing is as it seems, and during Caraval everything is an illusion and you can never trust anyone.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (18):
Caraval is an amazing book and I highly recommend everyone gives it a chance. It is one of my favorite books of all time. The author crafts a story unlike anything I’ve ever read. Where Caraval really thrives is its characters. At the beginning of the story, I didn’t really care for Scarlett or Tella, Scarlett was too stuck-up and Tella was extremely spoiled and childish. However, by the end of the story, my opinion changed. The real star of the show, however, is Julian. He is everything a reader could ever want from a YA male protagonist. He’s mysterious and alluring and flows so well with Scarlett.

Everything is carefully placed to keep the reader just as surprised as Scarlett. Even though we are told to trust nothing in the game, I was still shocked when things play out the way they do.  Nothing in the story is unnecessary in the scheme of the entire trilogy and Garber’s style of writing pulls you into this immersive world so quickly. Caraval pulls you in and doesn’t let go even after you’re done reading.

However, as much as I love the book, no book is perfect. The last few chapters weren't very satisfying. They seemed very rushed and difficult o follow. When I found out the second book revolved around Tella, I was disappointed. I thought everything I loved about Caraval would be gone. I was wrong, but a novel should lead you to want to read the sequel not make you hesitant.  Caraval is full of twists and turns, but the ending was simply too much.

Any YA book lover should love this book as well and it would be an amazing gift. The cover art is gorgeous, so it is a book you will want to display on your bookshelf. Please read this book if you have the chance; it will be well worth your time.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Readers who love suspense and thrill rides - not to mention great characters - will be totally invested in Caraval. They won't be able to put the book down or the events from their mind, even when they finish the novel.

Content Awareness Factors:

The plot contains sexual references and child abuse.

Type of Book:
In this fantasy series, two sisters with very different personalities become players in a "performance art" game. Caraval is book 1 in the trilogy.
Educational Themes:

Read this for enjoyment purposes. Some reviewers have compared it to The Night Circus and The Hunger Games. You might start a conversation comparing/contrasting the themes and characters.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
14 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
14 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 18
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. An amazing, original young adult thriller you'll want to read again so you can find the details you missed the firs time around.

Title Caraval

Caraval, Book 1

Author Stephanie Garber
Publisher Flatiron Books, Imprint Macmillan Books © 2017
ISBN 9781250095251
Material Hard Cover
Cost $18.99
Genres Family, Performing Arts, Science Fiction
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