I decided to join an online book club where, instead of reading the same book, we read the same genre or type of book, and start from there. To kick things off in January, we started with local authors. And after debating what book I wanted to buy (we were challenged to read something outside our usual style), I remembered that I had a book that fit the bill already at home. So I dug Caraval, by Stephanie Garber, out from the bottom of one of my TBR piles.

Sisters Scarlett and Donatella have always lived on the island of Trisda, and when their mother was there, things went well. But after their mother vanished, their father moved from protective to controlling and abusive. All the sisters want is the chance to experience life for themselves, and maybe a little magic.

Scarlett is soon to be married when she receives an invitation to Caraval, a magical game where players work to solve a mystery and win a prize. This year’s prize, a wish, could change the girls’ lives. Though Scarlett is more reserved and cautious, Donatella is impulsive, so despite the danger, the girls end up on the magical island hosting Caraval–only they are separated. Scarlett planned on staying only one night then hurrying home to be in time for her wedding, but this year’s game for some reason seems to revolve around the sisters, and Scarlett can’t go home without Donatella. But as she gets deeper into the game, Scarlett starts to wonder if she’ll get through the game with even her life.

Young Adult isn’t generally a genre I read. It’s hard to pinpoint why, exactly, the writing style just doesn’t appeal to me. It often feels a little trite and unreal. Caraval was a little different. Though the story felt a little Disney at times– love-at-first-sight kind of romance, inexhaustible source of optimism, knowing everything would work out fine in the end–it was a good story, unique in it’s twists and turns. When she begins the game, Scarlett is told not to believe anything, that everyone and everything is out to fool her. With this in mind, it keeps you guessing throughout the story, wondering if anyone is true, or if it’s all just lies and pretend.

However, while some twists were a little surprising, the style and genre gave a lot away, too. Without giving spoilers for what happens in the book, you just know that it’ll all work out in the end. Perhaps it was knowing that the plot of the story revolves around a magical game that made certain twists less than believable, in terms of permanence, or perhaps it was most the genre that gives me that sense, but it was a deterrent for me, as far as continuing on in the series. While I’m curious about a few things, I’m not chomping at the bit to go buy the rest of the series. And as long as I’m reading books I’m moderately interested in (instead of allowing myself to buy the shiny new books I’ve been drooling over this holiday season), I may as well make a dent in the hoard I’ve got at home.


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