Friday, March 31, 2017


Caraval, Stephanie Garber
More than a month ago, the release material for this title crossed my desk and failed to grab me.  Recently, it kept cropping up on my GR feed and the premise was now irresistible to I sent a belated email requesting a copy after all.  When it arrived I was smitten anew by the title itself and the cover.  I felt confident I was going to devour this one.  Well...I did read it eagerly, but it isn't as simple as that;
  • Eager because it was hella compelling.  I really wanted to know if my suspicions were correct, I wanted to see each twist to its end, I wanted to read read read.
  • This was further fueled by some very fun imagery.  The setting ideas were very fun.
  • Buuut...the characters, overstated motives and arc felt contrived.  Until the very end, I didn't find any of the characters very likable and the narrative twists were irritating rather than thrilling -- although I wanted to reach each and every reveal.
  • Sadly the writing style didn't do it for me.  In particular, I wanted no part of the colours-as-emotions train (it got painful), didn't like the dialogue, and couldn't pass a simile that wasn't distracting rather than enhancing. Garber's defence, I read this after Strange the Dreamer, and as always, I acknowledge context counts for a lot; coming after Laini's not easy...I pity any book riding that wake.  But I'd read another book in between (review here), and gone in open-minded.  It wasn't enough.  I really respect Garber's ideas and persistence (she's penned multiple manuscripts, although this is her publishing debut), and I'm sure my review will do little to dampen the wow of making the NY bestseller's list and being optioned for film by 20th Century Fox.  I'm guessing already I'll like the film more than the book...(that happens for me sometimes) -- since as far as ideas go, this is a visually-stunning, fun premise...the form was not to my taste.
  • The clothing decisions annoyed me a bit.  Again, in the film the costuming will matter and delight me, no doubt, but in the book instead of simply having the protagonist's attire described (and often, as it's part of the magic), I wasn't a big fan of the words spent on breaking down how sexy each dress was (although that word wasn't used).
  • No serious swearing I can recall, sensuality is very limited (kissing, sleeping next to each other).
Conclusion:  If the idea of a mixing the island Pinocchio visits with the Labyrinth appeals to you and you're happy to read for concepts and ignore some language and character deficiencies, get on this.  I turned those pages anyway, so there's definitely something here.

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