Get ready to drop everything because there is a book you need to read right now, and it’s called Caraval by Stephanie Garber. Here’s why:
1. A Magical Contest
I am a total sucker for any mysterious game/contest/heist scenario, and Caraval totally nails it. I haven’t been so absorbed in a magical atmosphere since The Night Circus, but Caraval even surpassed it! In the midst of the contest, I realized I was honestly a little disappointed that I’d never get to go (JK maybe my invite is lost in the mail with my Hogwarts letter).
2. Sister, Sister
As a person who loves her completely opposite sister (think Taming of the Shrew. Yes, I’m the Shrew. Thanks for pointing that out.), I totally jived with Scarlett and Donatella’s relationship. Above all else, Scarlett wants to keep her sister safe, even if Tella lives her life in ways Scarlett never would. The prices these two pay to keep each other safe are seriously intense. I need to take sister lessons from these women.
3. UM JULIAN
(Hi there Julian, welcome to the very select club of my favorite book boyfriends. Please, take a seat.) Julian is that guy. He’s sarcastic and curt and a bit unkind at first (for the ever-present mysterious reasons), but very soon turns kind and loyal (but still mysterious because duh).
The reasons I didn’t like him quickly turned into the reasons I did (CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE NICKNAME?) A nice base of misunderstood, a healthy scoop of sarcasm, and a dash of not-what-he-seems = Julian.
4. Girl Power
Though Scarlett certainly isn’t immune to those frightful feelings of the heart, she doesn’t let love stop her from being her own person. She doesn’t need saving, but she’s also brave enough to let people in. Her vulnerability only makes her more powerful, and the love she feels for other characters propels her to be strong and brave.
5. “It’s only a game”
The best part of this book is how twisty and misleading it is, not just in Scarlett’s experience at Caraval but also for the reader. Everything and everyone around Scarlett seems so slippery—there one second and changed the next. The line everyone keeps repeating to each other—and to themselves—becomes more and more suspect as the game goes on. No matter what happens when you’re reading this book, just remember, it’s only a book game.