Showing posts with label caraval. Show all posts
Showing posts with label caraval. Show all posts

Monday, May 15, 2017

10 Overhyped Books I Disliked in the First Half of 2017 feat. Caraval, Firstlife & more




Sometimes you're really looking forward to reading certain books because all your friends love them. Sometimes I genuinely question my friendship with these people after reading these books. Hm.



THE GRACES - Laure Eve
I've never read a book so racist and homophobic and biphobic in my life. It's beyond me how anyone can recommend this with a good conscience. And beyond that, it's TWILIGHT just with witches instead of vampires.

THE KISS OF DECEPTION - Mary E. Pearson
The hype absolutely killed this one for me. I was expecting excellence, looking at how much bloggers hyped this! I really don't know what to do with books that have no plot. Not my cup of tea.

ARMADA - Ernest Cline
Welp. This was hyped way too much and my expectations were way too high. I love READY PLAYER ONE, but not so much that I'd enjoy the same thing all over again minus world building plus homophobia and ableism.



STATION ELEVEN - Emily St. John Mandel
Not sure what happenened here - I had no idea this was going to be so literary and so much more talk than actual gritty dystopia. Not my cup of tea.

SHUTTER - Courtney Alameda
This has been hyped for years and I actually was really excited for a super scary read. Unfortunately I didn't like this for very arbitrary reasons and it went more into the gore than scare direction, which I just really, deeply dislike.

FIRSTLIFE - Gena Showalter
At some point, this book was everywhere! I really love afterlife setting, but this one was really awkward, poorly written, and just reads like every other dystopian book from the last 5 years or so. Super uncreative. No thanks.



THE MERCILESS - Danielle Vega
I just couldn't. Gore and racist micro aggressions and a non-existent plot were way too many things to complain about for me - I really really didn't enjoy this.

CARAVAL - Stephanie Garber
This is the disappointment of 2017. Nothing has been hyped more than this book, and I'm genuinely shocked with all the things that I found in this that are downright dangerous for readers.

THE DEAD HOUSE - Dawn Kurtagich
Sigh... another horror book whose scariest feature is the insensitivity. If you are picking this up looking for DID representation, don't.




THE AMATEURS - Sara Shepard
I've never read any of her PRETTY LITTLE LIARS books and was very curious to find out what the fuss is all about. But this one hit me hard with racism and sexism. Hard pass.


What books disappointed you in 2017?

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Friday, April 21, 2017

[Review] Caraval (#1) - Stephanie Garber: Magical Games and Insensitivity

In CARAVAL, sisters Scarlett and Tella finally receive an invitation to a mysterious game.

What intrigued me: Pretty much the hype.

Lacks in World Building

CARAVAL is one of those books that charm you with flowery writing and hide the fact that there isn't really much else interesting going on. The biggest weakness is the world building. Hardly anything gets explained and the reader has very little time to get acquainted with settings, concepts, and unique elements before the sisters embark on their journey to attend Caraval. 

I assumed this would be a magical-realist read like THE NIGHT CIRCUS, which it has been so famously compared to, but CARAVAL is nothing like that. The story would've been so much better off had it been told in a Contemporary setting in my opinion. The High Fantasy world is hastily built, which lots of made-up names for existing things and for some reason half of it is in Spanish. No clue what that's all about. The setting itself is a very meager attempt to distract the reader from the fact that hardly anything in this book makes sense, the plot twists come out of nowhere and are incomprehensible, and there are also a handful of Deux Ex Machina situations.


Suicide as a Plot Device 

I was surprised to see that it's pretty much a reproduction of L.J. Smith's THE FORBIDDEN GAME series, which is one of my favorite series of all time. CARAVAL tries to hide that with a High Fantasy setting, but the comparisons are simply uncanny: Both feature a love interest named Julian and a mysterious and dangerous game that the protagonist must win to save their loved ones. Where THE FORBIDDEN GAME amazes with atmospheric truly dark and dangerous setting and characters, CARAVAL strikes me a little as PG-13. It's such a strange reading experience, because the writing is very juvenile at parts and then you have scenes involving heavy physical abuse, emotional manipulation, rape, and suicide. 

There is one scene that still renders me speechless and makes me feel sick thinking about it - at some point a character commits suicide as part of the game, only to be later resurrected with magic. I find it extremely inappropriate to use this as a plot device and for the shock value, and worse when it turns out that the character planned for this to happen all along. It's disgusting, really, and just the proverbial cherry on top of this very problematic cake. You'll find that most of the scenes involving abuse and rape are plot devices. The sisters have a very abusive father who's just there for conflict, which I can still forgive, but then there are also scenes where the love interest forces himself physically on Scarlett. He violates her consent by asking her to reconsider and/or straight up ignoring it when she says no. This is never addressed and just horrifying. I would've given this book a solid three star rating without all the problematic content, because I can still recognize that this is a book that may not be for me, but might delight other readers. But like this, I'm simply horrified and shocked and would advise you to be very careful should you plan on reading this.


Rating:

☆☆☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

CARAVAL is the disappointment of the year. Lush prose can't really hide that the concept and world building are mediocre at best. This book is a prime example why we need trigger warnings in mainstream YA, a lot of the very mature themes are used as plot devices. The suicide one hit me the worst, I can't believe they'd put this in a book for teens.

Trigger warning: rape, physical and emotional abuse, suicide, slut-shaming, violence, kidnapping


Additional Info

Published: March 20th 2017
Pages: 400
Publisher: Piper
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 978-3-492-70416-8

Synopsis:
"Remember, it’s only a game…

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away."(Source: Goodreads)



Have you read CARAVAL?

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