Caraval Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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Welcome, welcome to Caraval - Stephanie Garber's sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved 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. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
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|Listening Length||10 hours and 36 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||January 31, 2017|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #5,378 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#11 in Fiction on Family for Teens
#14 in Fantasy Romance for Teens
#22 in Teen & Young Adult Siblings Fiction
Reviewed in the United States on January 15, 2019
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I actually ended up really, really enjoying CARAVAL, and part of that enjoyment was because of the reasons so many people hated it. The purple prose-- while cheesy at times, was incredibly evocative and had some really compelling imagery that I felt lent a lot to the fantasy setting. The endless parade of hot boys and fan service-- also yes, but it had the self-indulgent steaminess of a 90s Zebra romance, where even though it's so over the top that you half-expect to see a Fabio in a puffy shirt gracing the book jacket somewhere, it also offers fan service from the female gaze, a truckload of pretty dresses, and some pretty solid romance.
And honestly, I love a good fantasy romance. I grew up with authors like Gail Carson Levine, Vivian Vande Velde, and Diana Wynne Jones, and in the age of the Triple Barrelled Fantasy Women's Canon™, the kidlit crew knew that what girls wanted to read was girls going out into the world, kicking butt and maybe also falling in love. I feel like a lot of fantasy authors try to capture that same magic these days, but they either go too dry and don't have any romance because they're trying to be Taken More Seriously™, or they go full ham on the romance, to the point where they kind of forget about what makes fantasy so much fun in the first place: the immersion and the wonder and the adventure.
The plot of CARAVAL is, at heart, pretty simple. Scarlett and Donatella live on a colonized island in a world where everything, inexplicably, has Spanish names. And side note: I found it hilarious that everything had Spanish names because (FUN FACT), I speak Spanish, and some of the translations were interesting. Like Castillo Maldito (which can be interpreted several ways, one of which is incredibly funny), or Del Ojos Beach, which should just be Playa Del Ojos probably. ANYWAY, everything is Spanish and life in Spanishland sucks. Because the girls' father is super abusive, in a way that is actually probably going to be triggering for a lot of people. Scarlett is in an arranged marriage with a man she has never met, and she's hoping to use him to take her and her sister away forever. But fate yields other plans: specifically, in the form of three magical tickets to Caraval, a traveling circus/carnival where people have to basically complete an obstacle course to win a prize.
Knowing their father will be furious if she goes, Scarlett intends on getting rid of the tickets and sticking with the marriage, because she is boring and safe and predictable. But Donatella is an impulsive, selfish jerk, and her plan involves kidnapping her sister and forcing her to go to Carnival Island. Only that doesn't really go that well-- because GUESS WHAT. Donatella is the prize of this year's obstacle course, and Scarlett has to find her to win. And if she doesn't find her, bad things might happen. What is real? What is the Matrix? What is Inception? WHAT IS CARAVAL? Also, there's a hot but potentially dangerous sailor named Julian to help her on her quest, and in addition to Julian "Why Can't My Shirt Stay On For More Than Five Minutes™" McSailor, there's about four or five other hot but potentially dangerous hot guys, who will either help or hinder with their hotness. Woohoo.
I actually liked the world-building a lot. I felt like it had the same fun-with-a-dark-underside vibes as things like Coraline or MirrorMask. I actually wish it had been just a little more sinister and fantastical, but for what it was, I thought it was a lot of fun. I did not see THE MAGIC CIRCUS similarities at all. Labyrinth, yes. Forbidden Game, yes (I mean the hero's name is even Julian). It was even a little reminiscent of WHAT DREAMS DESCEND, although that was a book I really had to struggle through and they had roughly the same page count. Without spoilers, I will agree that the last 20% of the book and especially the last 10% were a little "what, huh?" It felt like the author really scrambled to wrap the book up in a risk-free way, but it didn't really work. The prologue is also clear sequel-baiting, which is not a big deal to me since I already own the full trilogy, but I bet it was frustrating to get through 400+ pages of book when this first came out and still have the majority of one's questions either not answered, or deflected in a way that it basically felt like the same thing.
But despite all that, I DID enjoy the book-- a lot. And I am definitely going to be reading those sequels. There are a lot of YA adaptations where I'm like, "Why did this need to be on the big screen?" But a movie of this book, I would actually watch and probably really enjoy. Because I love trash.
4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars
It followed Scarlett Dragna as she participates in a magical event called Caraval to save her sister, Donatella. She is pulled back and forth between what’s real and what’s not. With magic all around her, and a boy who can’t seem to leave her alone, she is determined to win, and determined to not get lost in the game.
Stephanie Garber is officially my pick for master world builder. She created a world that is magical and enchanting, as well as mysterious at the same time. I could picture everything perfectly, and I was practically entranced with the story because of it.
Not only is she a master world builder, she is a master at making characters to fall in love with. Julian was dark and mysterious, yet caring and compassionate. Meanwhile, Scarlett was loving and determined and protective. And they meshed so well.
I would just like to thank Stephanie Garber for creating a book that I will read over and over, and has cemented itself in my top five favorite books.
Vaguely reminiscent of The Hunger Games and The Night Circus, Caraval is a massive game that is held by invitation only on a magical isle. The Caravel game is unique, however: it’s something like an enormous magical dinner theater in which the players are enveloped for several days. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is how it plays with reality. What is real? What is merely part of the game? Whom can you trust? What are the consequences for choosing the wrong door, failing to be home before sunrise, or trusting your senses instead of the game clues? Scarlett and her sister Donatella are whisked away from their abusive father by a handsome sailor and brought to the island where Caravel takes place, but when Scarlett awakens on a raft near the island, she finds that Tella has been kidnapped and it is up to Scarlett to rescue her, with the no-so-convenient aid of the handsome sailor Julien.
The world of Caraval enchants and delights, but not quite in a Harry Potter sort of way: a carousel of roses spins faster and faster when the carousel-master sings songs, otherworldly pastries are available on street corners, and the past and future appear on the pages in a book of paintings, but there are dark edges to the magic. A dress in a shop costs a few days of Scarlett’s life, but (mild spoiler warning) life days can be exchanged in a manner almost reminiscent of the video game life-trading in the 2017 version of Jumanji. The dark elements in the book involve abuse, dismemberment, and murder, but I think that on average nothing is so graphic that it would sicken sensitive readers. The overly-cautious heroine from an abusive family endures some harrowing experiences, but perseveres with courage and determination. She is, in fact, one of my favorite literary females of all time, and one of my favorite things about the novel. In my opinion, it’s extremely difficult to write a good action novel heroine. Katniss was too much of a tomboy for my taste, as was Tris from Divergent. Meaning no disrespect to Stephanie Meyer, who has made infinitely more money than I have as a writer, Bella from Twilight was just boring. But Scarlett could be me. That, of course, is why I connect with her character so strongly, but more than that, I think she’s a finely-drawn portrait of an older sister who has endured far more than she should have had to in her young life and as a result has developed some particular anxieties about her sister and getting into trouble. For comparison, I enjoyed this book more than The Night Circus, although that novel had more literary polish. I never really connected with any of The Night Circus characters, and the plot of that novel, in my opinion, was not as interesting as that of Caraval.
There are two major difficulties I had with this book that prevented me from giving it five stars. The first is the ending, which uses magic to cheat fate in a happy but rather predictable way. That’s not horrible, but it’s not entirely great, either. Far more serious, though, is the fact that the hero of this novel, like the Beast from the Disney story, is a scary manipulator who turns out (spoiler warning) to have a heart of gold in the end. Or, in this case, whose heart seems to be turning into gold by the end. The problem I have with this is that I married one of these guys—a lying manipulator—and I thought it would be ok because I love fairy tales like this one and he, too, seemed to have a heart of gold beneath the grime. But in real life, unfortunately, lying manipulators tend to be just that, and they (usually?) don’t improve if you just give them love. In fact, in real life, such people often to take even further advantage of you if they think that you’ll just react by trying harder to love them. So in real life, naïve girls like Scarlett and I should stay very far away from guys like Julien. That being said, as long as the reader is well aware of this truth (real life bad boys generally can’t and shouldn’t be trusted) , the novel is highly entertaining and even deeply meaningful, as Scarlett tries desperately to break free from the abuse of her childhood, find her true nature, and rescue her sister.
What would Keats and Aristotle say? Great beauty of characters and plot. Some rather silly teenage swoon moments that mar the canvas a little, and one significant disturbing element plus the predictable ending, so pretty good for beauty and ok for truth as far as a YA novel is likely to go. With caveats, highly recommended.
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The Hunger Games comparison is also off the mark - it's not exciting or page-turning in the way that novel was. Scarlett, the main protagonist, has to follow clues once she reaches Caraval in order to find her sister and, in doing so, win the game (and a wish) but there's nothing really clever about the clues, nor is there the sense of nail-biting danger that filled the pages of The Hunger Games.
Scarlett herself was a pretty wishy-washy heroine, quite reliant on other people (particularly men) to save the day, guide her, reassure her etc. In fact, the biggest niggle for me was her relationship with Julian which read more like Mills & Boon than good literary fiction. The romance element in the Night Circus was clever, subtle and never cheesy. It's the total opposite here - to the point where I wondered if I was reading YA fiction. It may be, I'm still not sure.
I can see that the author has tried to create a magical world but nothing was built up fully enough to fill me with the sort of wonder or awe novels like Lev Grossman's The Magicians trilogy or Phil Pullman's Dark Materials have. For example, there's a scene in a clock shop towards the start of the novel that felt like it could have been the beginning of something - but it was over before it began, and neither the shop (nor any of the items in it) were revisited. Some of the descriptive writing also felt forced - like Scarlett's emotions being described as colours. It didn't add much to the novel and became a bit annoying after a while; especially as that wasn't really developed either.
I find it difficult to pinpoint exactly why this novel fell short for me. All I can say is that I found it very readable but wasn't rushing to pick it up. I was never consumed by the world of Caraval. But, equally, I didn't dislike it. And I would give the next book in the series a go.
One final word - this is a pig of a book to read on a Kindle. There are a number of notes in there (especially at the start) and even when you click on the 'zoom' option on the Kindle, the writing is still tiny. I actually made myself quite ill trying to read it on a bus! So, maybe this is one for the bookshelf as the cover is certainly very beautiful.
Like many others, I loved ‘The Night Circus’ and as that was the most recent circus book I had read, I couldn’t help but compare ‘Caraval’ and, unfortunately, it fell very short.
The story is set around 2 sisters Scarlett and Tella. The sisters have never left the tiny isle of Trisda where they live with a very controlling father. For years, the sisters have been pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long circus-type performance where the audience participates in the show. The show is a mystery and magical and to Scarlett and Tella, it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father. We follow the sisters as they receive their long-awaited invitations to Caraval but no sooner do they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by the show's mastermind organiser, Legend.
First off, there are letters in this book that make it super hard to read on a Kindle, even if you zoom in the font. I know that the book itself is quite pretty, so you might prefer to get a hard copy. Even so, it would be nice if this was formatted for the Kindle.
Overall this book was a big disappointment for me. I don’t know if this was because it was suggested to be read if you enjoyed ‘The Night Circus’ or if I just had really high expectations but, either way, I was left totally disappointed.
I found it really hard to like or even care about Scarlett. As our main protagonist, we are with her as she follows clues in Caraval in order to find her sister and, in doing so, win the game but there's nothing really clever about the clues, nor is there the sense of real nail-biting danger. There are a few sexual scenes in the book, which confused me as I thought the target audience for this was a bit young but perhaps not. The scenes themselves are weak and not believable and they felt a bit too fabricated, same with any death scenes too.
I have to admit that I got a bit lost in the world and not in a good Harry Potter way. I get that it was all magical but I found that once I had read a description of the environment, I immediately forgot it. Nothing descriptive about the world seemed to stick in my head.
I find it difficult to pinpoint one reason why this novel fell short for me. I was never consumed by the world or characters of Caraval and a female heroine that constant turns and is reliant on men is not really a great heroine in my view. I felt that the storyline was strong and could have offered so much more but I won’t bother with the rest of the series now.
If you don’t like metaphors and interesting, sometimes eccentric description, this book isn’t for you. Me, I enjoyed it. Some reviewers have commented on things like “how can you taste midnight?” but I get it. It’s not so much taste midnight, it’s the all-around experience of it. If you take everything you read literally, this book won’t be for you. Scarlett also had an ability, similar to synesthesia, but with a more magical, empath-like twist, where she could experience her emotion in the form of colours, and it was interesting to read what colour combination matched the emotion.
The broader world was a tad tropey, but not so much that I didn’t enjoy it. Part of me wants to know more about the world as a whole, part of me thinks everything is about the setting of Caraval, and the point is the rest of the world is supposed to fall away until Caraval is everything. At least for a few days.
I don’t even know where to begin here. This is almost a story told from the point of view of an unreliable narrator, but it’s not really her fault. Anything and everything the characters experiences could be completely fake or it could be real, and it’s nigh on impossible to know which is which. And just when you think you’ve figured it out, and there can’t be another twist you’re not prepared for, something will hit you. Sometimes books like this annoy me. The twists seem random or not thought out. Caraval was different though. Caraval seemed well thought out. Nothing was there without a purpose and the author had a way of telling the story that drew you in so you experienced everything right along with Scarlett.
There was one problem with experiencing things along with the main character though, you’re left out of the loop a lot. The magic system is… magic? These systems are supposed to have limits that are defined. If not, what’s the point? Anyone can do anything and it’s all ok? I’m hoping this is explained more in future books otherwise the stakes might seem less concerning if someone can click their fingers and undo all the bad that’s happened.
Scarlett is the main character, whose point of view we experience Caraval. In the beginning, she was mildly annoying, a weak female character who I wanted to give a nudge to fight for herself. But that’s where we get the growth. Once she gets over herself at the start of the book, she becomes a character I enjoyed reading about, and one I could eventually cheer for. Her personality could’ve been more in-depth, with more story than a missing mother and abusive father, but overall, she was just about good enough to carry the story. I can only hope she grows more and is fleshed out better in further books.
The somewhat predictable love interest, but still my favourite character in this book. After all, without Julian, where would Scarlett be? Dead, probably! Julian is an enigmatic character. I’m not sure we ever find out who he is for 100% certain, but that’s one of the reasons I actually like him. His story is clearly complicated, but he’s likeable and I was rooting for Julian throughout.
Donatella is Scarlett’s younger, more irresponsible and out of control sister. Although I think there’s a secret heart of gold hidden under the insecurity and madness. The whole plot is centered around her, but you don’t get to actually see much of her. Scarlett clearly cares deeply for her, though, and it sounds like she’s important for future books, so I’ll be interested in reading more about her.
Would I read it again? If I didn’t have thousands of other books on my list, sure. This isn’t one of those I’d pick up as a “comfort read” though.
Will I be picking up the next in the series? Yeah, eventually. I’m great at starting series and never finishing them. I’ll get on it eventually.
Would I recommend it? If you like a lot of metaphors, a little bit of romance and a magical setting, you should definitely give this one a go.
Is it going on my favourites shelf? Not quite. I enjoyed it, but not at that level.