Monday, March 6, 2017

Craval by Stephanie Garber

Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . . 

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 far-away, 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.

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Scarlett knew he was trying to manipulate her. She’d had enough experience to recognize the signs. Unfortunately, despite her lengthy history of being used by her father, or perhaps because of it, she was never good at evading it.

Just so you know, this is the romance in this book. 

Saying I’d heard a lot about Caraval before reading it would be an understatement. Hell, I’ve been hyped for this since fricken July last year when the book started going around and people were going CRAZY. Ever since ARCs were released all I saw was five star review, after five star review, and despite trying to be cautious, I was getting into the hype as well.

Now I’ve have read it and all I have to say is: I should know better by now.

Marketing is a really brilliant and shitty thing for me, especially regarding books. A good marketing strategy will make me believe I NEED a certain book by an author I have never read, a genre I don’t reach out for or a story I wouldn’t normally care about.

Take Red Queen, for instance. I was pretty done with dystopia at that point, but everybody and their mothers started talking about how AMAZEBALLS it was, how totally ORIGINAL and MIND-BLOWING and TOTALLY TWISTY AND SURPRISING it was, that when the book came out I was dying to read it!

That book not only didn’t live up to my impossible expectations, but it turned out to be the complete opposite of what their propaganda said; it was unoriginal and predictable.

With Caraval I had better hopes because I like fantasy, and a deadly game of mystery and magic sounded pretty cool, but for me the book was severely over-hyped.

Despite its enticing concept, this book reminded me of a lot of other series to the point where a certain thing would appear and I could pin-point exactly which book it came from (a lot of people say it resembles a lot to The Night Circus but I have never read it, so I can’t say). 

Probably its biggest issue is its lack of originality regarding its construction, since the story goes something like this:

“Virginal, bland girl has to look for/protect her much more interesting, compelling and lively sister that for some reason wasn’t the main character. She is running away from her abuser, yet thIS horrible past of violence and abuse is only used for drama, shock value and then discarded when it doesn’t suit the plot.

She meets a hot guy (who had been making out with her sister when she met him but she never gave that a second thought?? Really??) who is really hot. In fact, their entire relationship will be about how hot he is and how he makes her feel “things she had never felt before”, because apparently this girl never felt horny before. The guy is a complete douche, and their relationship is really similar to that with her abusive dad, but the guy has ABS! So it’s totally okay for him to constantly manipulate her, lie to her, push her against walls/trees and be constantly looking for ways to make her uncomfortable.

For some reason and despite all of this; her never trusting him and recognising that what he does is wrong, she falls in love with him in a matter of days (what does she love? WHAT!?) and her sister is totally forgotten because she’s too busy getting all hot whenever his caramel/chocolate eyes are near (to the point that they are being crushed to death and decide that’s the best time to start groping each other).

Add some twists such as: 
You’re a liar!
Ups, no you’re not, sorry!
Wait, you are!
Wait, you saved me so I guess I believe you…
There you go, lying again!
Oh no, NOT THIS… wait, you’re lying again?
Shit I guess everything was a lie between us…
You say it’s not??

All of this happening at least once every two chapters.”

Funny thing is, I was thinking about writing a really long and detailed review but as I sit here now… I just can’t really remember a lot of the story, and I finished it yesterday! That’s how forgettable the book was.

Let’s see, I’ll make this quick:

-There’s insta-lust passed off as undying love. The guy was an ass, and she knew she was lying and manipulating her, yet for some reason they fell in love… don’t ask me how that works for I don’t know.

-As far as diversity goes, the main character has “olive skin” which made me think she was on top of a pizza. The love interest had chocolate/caramel eyes, brown hair and brown muscles. There was one girl named Aiko and another one with dark skin both with a few lines, but that was about it. Only straights tho.

-There was a lot of GRAPHIC abuse by a father towards his daughters. The abuse is what sets the story going (the daughters want to escape him) and then it comes back again to add drama, but it is very graphic and never dealt with. The man slaps Tella, punches Scarlet in the stomach, grabs her by the hair, almost has her raped so she will behave (she escapes), and is constantly threatening them. We see this as it goes but then the story somehow forgets about it.

-Most girls were seen as competition. Whatever women we meet, most of them lie to her, deceive her or are downright rude and Scarlett is always imagining they are "looking at her wrong" when she can't even see them. Bonus point if they are talking with her love interests!

-The main character was dumb. Look, at the beginning I understood she was going to make some mistakes. She came from a horrible background and was thrust into this game against her will, only so she could save her sister. I understood she wasn’t going to play the game well at first, so her first slips were understandable. But when you make the same mistake ten times, and other mistakes twenty more times… it gets frustrating. Especially when her stupidity was used to create conflict, and made the “twists” really predictable.

In the end, the hype, as always, didn’t deliver. Still I know a lot of people were looking forward to this one, so don’t let my review discourage you! Try it, you may like it!

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