3 Reasons Why Caraval was disappointing

Hello, everyone! Today`s review is a bit different than my usual ones, but I hope you will enjoy it nevertheless. "Caraval" by Stephanie Garber was one of the most anticipated books of 2017 and everyone was losing their shit over it. It was featured in so many Youtube videos, I lost count. When it first came out, it had a Goodreads rating of 4.55 stars. But by now, I know better than to give into the hype and I waited a while before reading it. And I am glad I did because this book was underwhelming and quite disappointing. 

Before we begin this review, let me tell you that I have not read "The Night Circus". I think it`s important to mention this, as "Caraval" is often compared to the aforementioned book. So I had no previous expectations before starting this book, other than wanting a magical and whimsical story. Which I still got, amidst its many flaws. "Caraval" is the story of two sisters, Tella and Scarlett, and their hope for a better life, away from their abusive father. Growing up, they heard their grandmother`s stories about Caraval, a magical performance where the audience participates in the show. While Scarlett thinks that their only solution is her impending marriage to a count, Tella has other plans. Helped by a mysterious sailor, they trick Scarlett and get her on the island where the show takes place. Soon, Scarlett gets more than she bargained for and she is thrust into something bigger than she ever imagined. While everyone keeps remaining her that everything is part of the game, Scarlett soon finds out that it`s hard to distinguish performance from reality.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Overall, this looked like my type of book. I enjoyed the plot, the mystery and all the mind-blowing revelations. I adored the quirky island where the action takes place. So why did it end up being a 2 stars read?

1. Insta Love
At the beginning of the book, we get a small glimpse of Scarlett and Tella`s relationship. While Tella is impulsive and childish, Scarlett likes over-thinking stuff. Despite their differences, we are told that these sisters would do anything for each other. That is until a cute boy comes along. 3/4 of the book is spent describing Scarlett`s feelings for the sailor, Julian. Even though he is shady and she only knows him for a couple of days, our protagonist is deeply in love with him. As a happily married woman, I was annoyed by this infatuation (that`s what it really is, let`s be honest) and I wished that the author would have focused more on the plot, rather than Julian`s brown muscles. Why does it always have to be some love story in YA books? In was cheesy and overly done and in the end, it ruined the story for me. So much that at one point I was having flashbacks of old Old Spice commercials, whenever Julian was mentioned.

2. Writing Style
I know that the writing style was supposed to be beautiful and poetic, but it was cringy. Personally, I don`t have anything against long description, as long as they are good. But these were bad comparisons, where everything had to resemble a fucking colour!
“It would have been a mistake to kiss him, yet she felt … disappointed. It came in cool shades of forget-me-not blue, which wrapped around her like evening fog, making her feel hidden enough to acknowledge that she wanted to experience more of Caraval’s pleasures than she would ever have admitted out loud``. 
Now multiply that by 1 million, so you get an idea of how the rest of the book goes.

3.Lack of character development
I am one of those people that prefer character driven books to the plot driven ones. I like to get invested in the stories, hate the villain and root for the hero. And while I did not dislike Scarlett as a protagonist, I was not too fond of her either.  She was this bland and boring person, that falls for the guy who kidnaps her (because, muscles). I also felt a bit of slut-shaming in the was Tella was described, which was not OK. The villains didn`t have a motivation either, though I am hoping that more will be addressed in the sequel.

While I was writing my review, I realised how much this book annoyed me, so I lowered my rating to 2 stars. The premise was intriguing, but the romance and abundance of YA cliches ruined it. I will still read the sequel, even though I don`t have high hopes for it.


  1. Thank you for the review. Really appreciate the honesty, and actual reasoning (many of the hyping reviews are simply "omg it's soo good!", without really stating, what exactly is so good.)

    1. Thank you! I know this is a well loved book, so I wanted to express exactly why it did not resonate with me:)

  2. I'm sorry this one didn't work out for you!