By Elizabeth Engelman, Teen and Outreach Librarian
NOTE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FROM CARAVAL BY STEPHANIE GARBER. PLEASE DO NOT PROCEED IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO KNOW WHAT OCCURS IN CHAPTERS 1-8 OF THE NOVEL. THANK YOU.
In the first 8 chapters we meet Scarlett Dragna and her sister, Donatella or Tella, as well as their cruel father and a sailor, Julian, visiting the island where the sisters grew up. Both Scarlett and Tella want to escape the island and their father, but have different ideas of how to do it, with Scarlett looking to an arranged marriage with someone she has never met, and Tella wanting to go off with the visiting sailor.
Both have heard tales of the magical Caraval where participants are granted a prize if they win the game. They learn these tales from their grandmother after their mother disappears. Scarlett writes the Master of Caraval for years hoping for the show to come to her island. While the show never arrives, she is given an invitation for her, her fiance, and for her sister. Scarlett doesn’t think it a good idea to go so close to her wedding he invitation arrives, Tella leaves without Scarlett, knowing her sister will follow. When Scarlett arrives with Julian at the island, looking for her sister, she is given a warning about the nature of the game, and must decide to play the game or observe. She chooses to play.
I thought the first chapters did a good job in establishing the sisters’ characters and their motivations for wanting to escape their awful father. You can see why Scarlett would consider a marriage to a stranger as she wants to protect her sister, but her sister doesn’t want that kind of protection. I think that happens a lot, older sisters thinking they know best and younger sisters rebelling against that, even if it’s reckless. Who do you think was right? Or maybe both were right or both were wrong.
I also liked how the author established the mood. She used a lot of sensory images, from the rotted plum smell of the father, to the sugary sand on the island, to the jewel colors of the buildings. I really got a feel for the characters and settings from this. I thought it set a kind of creepy and sinister feel to the opening chapters. Did anyone else find this?
There was a lot going on in the first 8 chapters. What did you think was the most important thing about these chapter?
Elizabeth Engelman is the Teen and Outreach Librarian. Her desk is in the corner behind the new checkout station. She doesn’t have one favorite book, because it is too hard to make a choice from all the wonderful books out there. Ask her and she’ll tell you a few she really likes. Other than reading (what librarian doesn’t like to read?), she enjoys swimming, gardening, wine tasting, watching movies, and cooking.