Writing these 3-star reviews is just awful. One has to give enough reasons for both liking it and not liking it – thus leaving the review balanced. Let me see if I can do justice here.
Caraval – I’m assuming it is a portmanteau of Caravan and Carnival – is a spooky, Halloweeny novel about Scarlet who has to play a dangerous game and win if she has to recover her most dear treasure that has been taken from her. The novel works very well to spook me and create the sense of mystery to pull me in from the beginning.
SCARLET & JULIAN
I liked the overall plot a lot. No complains there. As a story, it was carried well with really good plot twists and edge-of-the-seat scenes. But my main gripe is about the main characters – Scarlet and Julian. Mostly Scarlet because she was this typical self-hating heroine who’s unsure of her feelings and is afraid to talk about them. I really do not want to waste time talking about her. It’s wrong and that’s all I’m saying. Julian was marginally better with some mystery behind his actions but even that air of suspense was lost on me after he started behaving like a love-stricken idiot repeating the same thing over and over again for the second half of the story.
The invisible man who runs the Caraval is intriguing. His nature, backstory and actions are sprinkled throughout the story and by the time you reach the climax of Caraval, you end up shocked to discover his identity! Don’t worry, I haven’t ruined anything for you. The Legend character is Sherlockesque and is a treat for mystery-lovers. When you think that you know him, he surprises you. There is always something new to discover about him. Very well-done!
The weird part is even if the main characters were ruined for me, the other secondary characters stood out. Like the Dad, Governor Dragna for example. He was a vile creature. Horrible and Despicable. That was beautiful characterisation, making me hate him instantly. I think when the second book comes out, he has a scope for redemption for his misdeeds. Let’s see.
Aiko’s role was perfection! Even the tiny roles played by girl on the unicycle, the boy with the wings etc. who I honestly thought were monsters-in-disguise for a while, are all noteworthy characters whom I liked a lot. They really got me worked-up and wiping sweat off my brow when they appeared. I hope to see more of them in future books.
The most enjoyable aspect of the novel was the spookiness and the macabre tone which is present from start to finish. It’s great! I really liked the setting. Kind of like a bigger version of Hotel California where one can check in but cannot get out alive!
I found myself wondering what would happen if one loses this game. Would a monstrous dark, dank maw swallow you? Will you be driven mad from the illusions and hallucinations? Will you become a ghost haunting the Caraval forever? That’s some good storytelling and I hope to get some clearer answers in the next book of the series.
THE HORRIFIC ROMANCE
Yes, I said it. The romance in Caraval was terrible. It was horrific. I couldn’t tolerate it. It was inappropriate in the sense that it happened at the most unlikely scenarios and had bad timing. Terrible timing actually. It made me squirm with discomfort and it ended up being the irritating lovey-dovey portion that I skipped.
Goodreads review >> here