Book Review: Finale by Stephanie Garber

Book: Finale by Stephanie Garber

Published May 2019 by Flatiron Books|416 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Caraval #3

Genre: YA Fantasy

Welcome, welcome to Finale, the third and final book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Caraval series! All games must come to an end…

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates were freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella saw Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finally, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun—with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win…and those who will lose everything.

I was really nervous going into Finale.  I really liked Caraval, and Legendary was just okay, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I ended up really liking it!

Both Scarlett and Tella narrate the book, and we see what’s going on with both of them.  Scarlett learns a lot about her family, and trying to decide between Nicolas, her former fiance, and Julian.  Tella, on the other hand, is keeping watch on her mother and is dealing with Legend’s impending coronation.

There’s a lot going on, and I wondered how everything was going to get wrapped up.  Between Scarlett’s love life, and the Fates, I wasn’t sure where things were going to go.

We learn a lot about Scarlett’s family, and it was not what I expected.  The Fates get defeated, and how that happened was interesting.  I wasn’t expecting it to happen the way it did, but it did make things interesting.  Everything really was leading to this book, and I liked seeing it all come together.  The history we get was really interesting, and I’m glad we got more of it.  I liked seeing more of the fates and the destruction they cause.

I really liked Scarlett, and she’s always been a great character.  I really felt for her, and all of the family stuff she had to deal with.  Tella was just okay, though I liked seeing her interactions with both Julian and Jacks.  While I’m glad we got her side of things, I also would have been fine if the book had just focused on Scarlett.  Still, Tella’s story needed to be wrapped up, so I was fine with both her and Scarlett narrating.

I was surprised by the ending, and I really want to know what it means for Legend and Tella.  It makes me wonder about the future of Caraval, and if it will come back.

I like the world, and it’s gotten bigger and bigger with each book.  It’s come to life, and it’s so vivid and magical.  I’m curious to see this series as either a movie or a t.v. show, because I’d love to see the world of Caraval on the screen, but at the same time, I’m worried it wouldn’t be as magical as the books.  And I don’t know how all of the letters and notes would translate to the screen.  At any rate, the world is pretty magical.

4 stars.  I really liked Finale, and it’s a great ending to the series.

Book Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Book: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Published May 2018 by Flatiron Books|451 books

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Caraval #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

After reading Caraval last year, and really liking it, I knew I had to pick up Legendary.  I was so curious about where things were headed, especially after how things ended.  Unfortunately, I didn’t like this book as much as I wanted to, which is a shame, because I liked the first book so much.

A lot of the questions I had at the end of Caraval were actually answered.  That surprised me, because I tend to have a lot of questions that are not never answered, and things don’t always go where I think they’re going to.  This book does focus more on Tella and her mom, and I did like that Legendary focused on that.

I didn’t like Tella’s story as much as I thought I would.  Don’t get me wrong, everything that happened to their mom was sort of interesting, and I’m glad we learn what happened to her, and why she disappeared.  I still think there’s more to it than what we got in the book, but at least we got the gist of what happened, and what Tella did during Caraval.

I didn’t like Tella, and though she admits to not being perfect and to making mistakes, I also wish we had Scarlett back.  She was a lot slower to figure things out, and…I don’t know.  As much as I wanted to know what she did at the end of Caraval, I kind of wish it had been in a different way or with a different character.  Or maybe it’s just Tella.

The magic was gone from this one, and it wasn’t the game I was expecting it to be.  I know the rules of this particular game are different than the previous one- it would be boring if it were- but it was not the magical game I thought it would be.  It was boring and I had expectations that were not met.

I hate that I wasn’t into this one, because the world of Caraval is so cool and unique.  This book had the power to be really cool and magical, like Caraval.  I don’t know if the world is better suited to one book, or if it’s because this one was narrated by a character I wasn’t into, but I do know it could have been more magical.

I still want to read the next one, because I do like the world just enough that I want to keep going.  I’m hoping this is a case of middle book syndrome, and the next one will be better.  I don’t think I’ll being going into it with the high expectations that I had with this one, especially since it seems like it might focus more on Tella, and she isn’t exactly my favorite, but maybe we’ll get more of Scarlett, and that will help.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that.

There were some things that came up in this book that were never mentioned in the previous book.  Looking back, maybe it didn’t have a place in the first book, but had more of a place in this one.  I wish the deck of fates had more explanation, and I wish it had somehow been introduced in the first one, but there’s nothing we can do about that.  There were some interesting things about this world, and while it wasn’t really expanded on in this book, there’s still part of me that hopes we’ll see more it in the next one.

2 stars.  I didn’t like it as much as Caraval, but I can see why so many people love it.  I wish it were for me, but I am curious to see what happens next.

Book Review: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Book: Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Published January 2017 by Flatiron Books|416 books

Where I Got It: I own the e-book

Series: Caraval #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

How far would you go to save your sister?

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved 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 far-away, 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. 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. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Caraval interested me when I first heard about it because it reminded me of The Night Circus.  There is a very Night Circus feel to the book, and I was reminded of The Crown’s Game as well.

The idea behind Caraval, and how it came to be is really interesting.  There were a few different variations about how it started, and even now, I’m having a hard time figuring out which variation is the true story.  I did like the connection to Scarlett’s family, and I wonder if it goes deeper than we know.  And if there’s more to it than what we saw in the book.  Especially with he ending.  It makes me wonder if there’s more to it then I initially thought. Was Caraval the reason why their mother left when they were little, or was it something else?  Will we learn what happens to their mother in the next book?  Because the ending made me feel like there’s a lot going on with their mom than I ever thought.

Speaking of Scarlett’s mom, she is mentioned, but I didn’t really think about her until the end of the book. What does she have to do with Tella and what she may have done in this book?  It’s clear something happened with Tella, but we never see what it is, since the book is mostly focused on Scarlett finding her.

I am really curious about Tella, and what’s in store for her.  I’m curious about Scarlett as well, but again…the ending makes me wonder about how things are going to turn out for Tella.  I’m really hoping the next book focuses on her, because I have the feeling there is more to her story than what we get into this book.  I need to know more!

I thought the world-building was interesting.  I wish we got more of it, because it didn’t seem like enough to me. We got a good enough sense of what Caraval is, and it really does seem like a carnival-type game.  There’s something Night Circus-esque about the island and all of the shops places.

There are very dreamy descriptions, which I really liked, but even though I got a good enough sense of the world, I wanted more of the history.  I wanted more about Legend and Scarlett’s family and their mom, and I felt like we got just enough of the world to know what was going on.  But it seemed pretty bare in comparison to what it could have been.  Still, I thought the idea of Caraval was interesting, and I think there’s a lot more to it than what we saw in this book.

4 stars.  I really liked, and I think it’s a pretty good read-alike for The Night Circus.  I wish we had a little bit more of Caraval and the island, but overall, I really liked how everything was described.