Caraval Review: the magical circus book we deserve

If you’ve read my review of the Night Circus, you’d know that I found it lackluster considering all the hype it had. It’s not that I thought Caraval wouldn’t live up to its hype. There are just some books where I wait for the hype to die down so I can get ahold of the library book without a billion holds in front of me. I can’t be on the first wave of excitement for every book, I’m just not that fast with library holds.

I loved this book. I listened to the audiobook, and it was amazing. It felt like I was watching it, and it think it would be a great movie or television show. Another bonus of listening to it was that the narrator does a great accent for Julian. It made him come alive and it was way more interesting to hear his accent than it would have been to hear the voice I gave him in my head.

All the Spanish words in the book were also so much better read in Spanish. I took Spanish for a long time, and I probably would have read them correctly in my head, but I wouldn’t have been able to nail the accent like the narrator. I enjoyed the narrator so much that I’m listening to Legendary as well.

Scarlet was a very relatable and enjoyable character to follow. I really understood her need to be safe, smart, and provide for her sister. Those strengths did often show themselves to be weaknesses though. I thought it was interesting to see how the attributes she prided herself in being were actually holding her back.

I loved getting to see her interact in the world and with Julian. I thought this book did a great job with thinking through all the possibilities of the game. It felt like Garber wanted to acknowledge our intelligence as readers to have the character ask the questions we were asking and thinking them through. She didn’t make Scarlet dumb. She also didn’t follow some tropes I thought she was marching toward–which is always pleasantly surprising.

The next book doesn’t follow Scarlet, although she’s still in the story, and I love books that show the growth of characters we’ve already followed, while we get to follow new characters. That way their story doesn’t have to end, but we get fresh characters. It’s like continuing the series which allows us to flesh out the world more and delve deeper into characters, but also allows us to feel like we’re reading a first book!

I’m really enjoying this series and I’ve already recommended it to others. What did you think of this trilogy?

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