The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh

The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh cover art

The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh cover art

I received 'The Blinds' in my August Book of the Month box. When I read the synopsis for this book, I was incredibly excited because the idea of a mysterious small town with all of its residence shrouded in secrecy gave me Westworld vibes, but unfortunately this book fell incredibly short of the brilliance of Westworld. I buddy read it with two of my close friends, @inkandfable &  @lookingforaburu and we agreed that there were TOO many broken pieces that just didn't connect.


SYNOPSIS:

Imagine a place populated by criminals—people plucked from their lives, with their memories altered, who’ve been granted new identities and a second chance. Welcome to The Blinds, a dusty town in rural Texas populated by misfits who don’t know if they’ve perpetrated a crime or just witnessed one. What’s clear to them is that if they leave, they will end up dead.

     For eight years, Sheriff Calvin Cooper has kept an uneasy peace—but after a suicide and a murder in quick succession, the town’s residents revolt. Cooper has his own secrets to protect, so when his new deputy starts digging, he needs to keep one step ahead of her—and the mysterious outsiders who threaten to tear the whole place down. The more he learns, the more the hard truth is revealed: The Blinds is no sleepy hideaway. It’s simmering with violence and deception, aching heartbreak and dark betrayals.


There are a plethora of characters to keep up with and rightly so since we are dealing with a small, populated town in rural Texas, Caesura also known as 'The Blinds' , where each resident's past is the reason they are all there. However, where this story excels its unique storyline, it fails in character development. The three main characters, Sheriff 'Calvin Cooper', Deputy 'Dawes' and 'Robinson' {not their real names} are "assigned" to maintain law and order in this experimental town. In fact no one in 'The Blinds' goes by their real name. All of the residents, who volunteered to be a part of this warped witness protection program to have their memories erased, were given alias'; mostly a mixture of U.S. presidents and celebrities. The masterminds behind this town, Dr. Fell and Dr. Holliday did not want any of the participants to have any triggers that would cause them to remember their former lives; all of them were criminals.


Will I remember what I did?

You won’t.

But will I know that I’ve forgotten it?

You will.

So I’ll know I did something bad, but I won’t know what it was.

You’ll know you made the decision to come to this place.


What I did love about this story was the residents of 'The Blinds' had no idea whether they were the victims or the perpetrators. What I disliked immensely about this story was as I learned the backstory to each character, their stories seemed all over the place. There was one very long dragging chapter about one of the most mysterious residents, Wayne, his backstory in connection with one of the main characters seemed pointless. His backstory served no purpose and was not connected to anything presently occurring in the town. It took me away from the intensity of the stories. It was building and then flat. Honestly I skimmed this part.

The climax of this story is that the psychopath of this town, Dietrich, a stone cold killer, is hired by the Institute to begin killing residents. Honestly I was confused at this point. It wasn't until later that I realized he was hired to get the only boy in town, Isaac, so he could be returned to his father, a high profile politician. Isaacs mother, Fran, was an extremely underdeveloped character. At one point during the town's eight year existence she was having an affair with Sheriff Cooper.  He was really invested in her son and I thought maybe Isaac was his, but Cooper would betray Fran in the end as he sought protection for himself from Dietrich's killing spree.


The Blinds By Adam Sternbergh PUBLISHED BY Ecco, August 1, 2017 GENRE: Adult Fiction, Psychological Thriller PAGES: 400 FORMAT: Hardcover SOURCE: Sent by Book of the Month Club PACING: {3.5/5}

The Blinds By Adam Sternbergh

PUBLISHED BY Ecco, August 1, 2017
GENRE: Adult Fiction, Psychological Thriller
PAGES: 400
FORMAT: Hardcover
SOURCE: Sent by Book of the Month Club
PACING: {3.5/5}

What I also loved about this book is that it spanned the course of week. Since the book was broken up by day, I really feel Sternbergh could have fleshed out the characters more and focused more on the people behind the conception of this experiment as well. Dr. Holliday was one of the masterminds behind 'The Blinds, the other, Dr. Fell, who was killed by Cooper. Since Dr. Holliday was the mastermind, her backstory and subsequent betrayal of her subjects could have replaced the long drawn out parts about characters that really did have an intricate role in the story. The basis of the experiment was clear, but learning more about 'The Institute' & Dr. Fell as well would have made the story even more intriguing. 

Illustration by David Palumbo

Illustration by David Palumbo


During Dietrich's killing spree, a lot of the surviving townspeople were able to gather in the town's chapel. Rigo and Santayana, two of the investigators hired by the institute, began a public reading of the files of some of the residents while there causing one of them to commit suicide. This was their intent with all the others. Although I can imagine it being a bit jarring discovering that you were involved in something traumatic having completely lost memory of it, but it seems far fetched that suicide would be an immediate response to discovering it. It felt like Sternbergh wanted to incorporate another element of death so to speak where it wasn't necessary. Dawes, the African American deputy working under Cooper was my favorite character. She was calm, cool and smart and uncovered the truth about Cooper. 

I am kind of all over the place with this book. I am conflicted about how to rate it. I enjoyed the context of this story a lot, but not the lack of character arcs. The pacing was average, but it dragged a bit in the middle. Trying something a little different instead of stars. My rating is 3.5/5. This is inspired by one of my favorite bookstagrammers @seelieknight She's actually one of the reasons I started my account. If you read 'The Blinds' definitely leave your thoughts below. 

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ {3.5/5}

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Skyles and Jo Piazza PUBLISHED BY Doubleday book July 11, 2017 GENRE: Adult Fiction PAGES: 304 FORMAT: Hardcover SOURCE: Sent by Doubleday Book care of Jo Piazza PACING: {3.7/5}

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Skyles and Jo Piazza PUBLISHED BY Doubleday book July 11, 2017
GENRE: Adult Fiction
PAGES: 304
FORMAT: Hardcover
SOURCE: Sent by Doubleday Book care of Jo Piazza
PACING: {3.7/5}


Synopsis:

When Janey Sweet, CEO of a couture wedding dress company, is photographed in the front row of a fashion show eating a bruffin--the delicious lovechild of a brioche and a muffin--her best friend and business partner, Beau, gives her an ultimatum: Lose thirty pounds or lose your job. Sure, Janey has gained some weight since her divorce, and no, her beautifully cut trousers don't fit like they used to, so Janey throws herself headlong into the world of the fitness revolution, signing up for a shockingly expensive workout pass, baring it all for Free the Nipple yoga, sweating through boot camp classes run by Sri Lankan militants and spinning to the screams of a Lycra-clad instructor with rage issues. At a juice shop she meets Jacob, a cute young guy who takes her dumpster-diving outside Whole Foods on their first date. At a shaman's tea ceremony she meets Hugh, a silver fox who holds her hand through an ayahuasca hallucination And at a secret exercise studio Janey meets Sara Strong, the wildly popular workout guru whose special dance routine has starlets and wealthy women flocking to her for results that seem too good to be true. As Janey eschews delicious carbs, pays thousands of dollars to charlatans, and is harassed by her very own fitness bracelet, she can't help but wonder: Did she really need to lose weight in the first place? 

A hilarious send-up of the health and wellness industry, Fitness Junkie is a glorious romp through the absurd landscape of our weight-obsessed culture.


This book was sent to me from Doubleday Books by way of one of the authors, Jo Piazza  which she co-wrote with Lucy Sykes . I am beginning to chuckle again as I am typing this because this book was incredibly hilarious and completely satirical. I would love to see this story adapted to screen as a dark romantic comedy. Approaching the plot twist, it began to read a bit slow, but did not take away from the comedic aspects of generation X-er's and millennials dealing with weight loss, dieting, health fads, social media trends and body image.

All the characters in this book had incredibly annoying personalities with their seemingly lack of concern for anything outside of their little obsession with the world of health and fitness, which in hindsight  made them all the more interesting. The character I disliked the most right in the beginning was Beau, he was the childhood friend of the other main character, Janey. They started a business together in which the basis of the business is "looks" and body image. He constantly berated Janey about how she looked and what she ate. It was at a breakfast meeting between the two of them that Beau abruptly fires Janey because he explains that her image does not fit the company anymore. Even before I reached the twist in Beau's story, I knew he fired her for reasons other than what he stated. Although Janey's confidence was easily broken and she spent a good part of the story worrying about her self image, she was still a likable character. She's like the girlfriend you have to constantly tell, "Hey, everything will be ok. Suck it up."

There was another surprising twist in this story to which the title tells, but it's not what you think. I loved the way Piazza and Sykes took very real aspects of a convoluted industry and exaggerated it, sort of; coffee from bird poop, H2BROC {Broccoli water lol}, strange juice cleansers. This story is equipped with all the recognizable and cliche, often weird, sentiments we see across social media in terms of "finding one's self", "wellness" and being "centered." 

"I have friends who look at my Instagram and then say things to me like, "You have the most perfect life." I'm the first one to tell you that the way someone's life looks on Insta is {b.s.} Real life doesn't come with filters. ~ Fitness Junkie

If you are looking for a fun, hysterical summer read, I definitely recommend Fitness Junkie. It had a speedy pace in the beginning but I found it to be a bit overly detailed with fillers toward the middle and end. I also didn't find the plot twist incredibly strong but it fit the context of this very lighthearted story.

"Stop comparing. Acknowledge other people's greatness and you will be more powerful and centered. Others will notice and embrace your confidence. There's nothing sexier than someone who is content with herself and trying every single day to be better and improve on her own terms." ~ Fitness Junkie

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ {between 3.5 - 3.8/5}

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

"Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage." ~ Min Jin Lee, Pachinko
 

Hello my loves, it has been quite awhile since I've written a book review. I was an ambassador for Book of the Month before I went on a mini hiatus from Instagram and I am really hoping I can return as an ambassador because BOTM has THEE best book selections EVER. 'Pachinko' was in my February BOTM box. I started buddy reading with my sweet friend Brittany  and Dominique  . Brittany finished a few weeks ago and I, the slow reader as usual, finished today. Yay!! So here's my review.


Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

PUBLISHED BY Grand Central Central February 7, 2017
GENRE: Adult Fiction
PAGES: 490
FORMAT: Hardcover
SOURCE: Sent by Book of the Month Club
PACING: {3.5/5}

Synopsis:

Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan. 

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.


This is such a well written and deeply moving story. To be completely honest I had no idea what pachinko was LOL. Once I googled, I realized that I knew exactly what it was and never knew the proper name for it. This is a multi-generational story and so heart wrenching. It reminds me how everyone's human experience is different yet having daily struggles to deal with and having the need to survive is the same for everyone. The characters in this story find pachinko as an escape from the poverty stricken way of life they've become accustomed to.

There's three books in all written over the course of 70 years. I think Pachinko could also fall in the historical genre as well because it dealt heavily with with Japan's invasion of Korea. The main character of this story is Sunja. She is quite reserved, loyal and dedicated to family even if that means sacrificing herself and her own dreams. She puts everyone else first especially her children. Sunja's life, from childhood, is filled with unpredictability, emotional pain and stress. 

"Learn everything. Fill your mind with knowledge - it’s the only kind of power no one can take away from you." ~ Min Jin Lee, Pachinko

Sunja is the victim of statutory rape, by a middle-aged gangster named Koh Hansu. Later in the story, Hansu becomes unexpected financial support to the family when they relocate to Osaka, but that did not change my view of him. I dislike Hansu and what he represents; a wealthy, controlling dictator who was aware of his power and used it to manipulate the vulnerable. Sunja was taken advantage of by Hansu, and as an adolescent gives birth out of wedlock to Hansu's son. She was both ashamed and shamed. Although the context of this story obviously highlights cultural norms during a certain period of time, I couldn't help but think about how even now when women are victimized they are often shamed. Sunja's eventually married an educated, kind, refined pastor named Isak. I thought it was so interesting that she wasn't in love with Isak, but recognized him as someone who deeply wanted to take care of her and her child. She didn't need to carry the shame of her past being with Isak, although Isak was killed in prison. He went to prison protecting his family. I won't spoil you too much because I really want you to read this book. She and Isak also had a son so the relationship between Isak's son, Hansu's son, Mozasu, and all the people they encounter in their lives provides the layers in this story. The constant introduction of new characters was bit overwhelming for me, but this is over the span of the main character's lifetime so I always kept that in mind while reading.    

I loved the relationship between Sunja and her sister-in-law Kyunghee. They genuinely cared and wanted the best for one another. They were best friends and after many financial and emotional struggles throughout the story they eventually started a kimchi {pickled cabbage which I love by the way} business that Kyunghee so longed for. This became their livelihood as well as pachinko. One more acceptable in society than the other. 


I think that Lee wrote time-hopping well which I find a lot of authors struggle with. However, the time hopping accompanied with the introduction of SO many characters just made me feel inundated. I had to constantly revert back to certain parts of the story to connect new characters to the main ones. I also didn't like the pacing of this book. I do think it's possible to tell a multi-generational story over decades without sacrificing the flow of the story. However, Lee painted a perfect picture of the cultural conflict between Koreans and Japanese; personal and governmental. Even as heartbreaking as this story is, Sunja alone represents the will to never give up even through the most heinous circumstances.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ {4/5}

 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Typically when I've used quotes as a part of my blog post reviews, I pull them from Goodreads or Google, but 'Station Eleven'  is far too captivating a book to not take a piece from it that made me think a little deeper about existentialism and about taking our current world for granted.

A memory from early childhood, before the collapse: sitting with a friend on a lawn, a game where they closed their eyes and concentrated hard and tried to read one another’s minds. She had never entirely let go of the notion that if she reached far enough with her thoughts she might find someone waiting, that if two people were to cast their thoughts outward at the same moment they might somehow meet in the middle.
— Station Eleven
Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 10.57.48 PM.png

There is nothing more satisfying to an insatiable bibliophile, well me lol, than an author who masters capturing atmosphere. Mandel's writing of this post apocalyptic world is so vivid that I felt like I was transported immediately into an unknown realm and began pondering on how I would survive with memories  

I have of the old world when everything I knew is gone. Throughout Mandel's narrative she addresses the stark contrast between those who are old enough to remember the old world and those who were born post collapse. It was so interesting to read how each group was dependent on the other and how that essentially determined how and if they survived. I also thought the way Mandel incorporated the change in language was pertinent to the relationship between these two groups. There were conversations about why people in the old world wrote T-H-X instead of THANKS or why it was "shoot an email" instead of "send" which I thought was quite funny. Here's the synopsis courtesy of Goodreads:


One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor's early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as The Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor's first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.


I think I discovered, between this and 'Parable of the Sower' by Octavia Butler , that I am a huge fan of adult dystopian sci-fi post apocalyptic books. I'm thinking of how every aspect of your life has been wiped away and you are forced to create new surroundings, a new way of life to essentially replace a state of consciousness you once knew.

I loved that it only took a few chapters to transition from one world into the next. I would like to think that was purposeful on the part of Mandel; not necessarily based on pacing for the reader but an intricate part of the psychology of the narrative. The abruptness of a functional world into a complete environmental degradation. How fast would we be able to adjust to starting over. The Traveling Symphony were a group of musicians and actors who put on plays like King Lear and A Midnight Summer's Dream. In this collapsed society they maintained their artistry; reminders of a formal world.

One of the main character's Kirsten collected text about one of the famous actors in their plays, Author, who died on stage performing King Lear right before the pandemic. His ex-wife, Miranda, created a work called 'Station Eleven' coincidentally about post apocalyptic society caused by war. I think the reason the Symphony was able to stick together through it all and Kirsten held so tightly to the work of a celebrity is because stories told through art and the work of the famous are immortal and lives on forever. It's all a reminder of something that makes people happy; something the resonates with human sensibility. Another main character, Jeevan, a paparazzi turned paramedic, who attempted to save Author's life the night he collapsed on stage, had such an endearing relationship with his brother Frank. Frank said famous people live forever because once they've been seen, they want to be remembered. Memories or lack there of seem to be a common thread in this story.  

Of course when the world as we know it collapses, someone takes it upon themselves to attempt to create a totalitarian society. Enter the despicable prophet who wanted to acquire as many wives as he could and kill anyone who challenged his authority. I am always curious about how one person is able to instill so much fear in others. Is it that people feel lost and alone and need someone to lead them? Anyone? Even if they are dangerous? 

The painted forest collapsed into folds and fell soundlessly to the pavement.

I also am picturing how in a collapsed society we are capable of using every single resource around us and even creating new resources, but in our present society where there is immediate access to everything we don't even acknowledge those resources. We exhaust every possible thing not realizing that doing so could actually bring us closer to a collapsed society. It's such a cyclical idea. 

I also think it is incredibly difficult for authors to write time hopping, but Mandel did it brilliantly. She repeatedly took me from the old world to the new at different points in the story effortlessly. One of the most important locations I think in the entire story is the Museum of Civilization.; a library of things from people who were cognizant of the old world; who could tell stories about a once civilized existence. Towards the end I was thinking about life imitating art imitating life. There was a weaving between these plays, Author's 'Station Eleven' text and what was happening. It unfolded like a prophecy of some sort.

Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel Published by Vintage June 2, 2015 GENRE: ADULT SCI-FI DYSTOPIAN PAGES: 333 FORMAT: PAPERBACK SOURCE: PURCHASED PACING: {5/5}

Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel

Published by Vintage June 2, 2015
GENRE: ADULT SCI-FI DYSTOPIAN
PAGES: 333
FORMAT: PAPERBACK
SOURCE: PURCHASED
PACING: {5/5}

Although this review is a bit lengthy, I left out super major details because I really want you to read this book. It is just fantastic read!! I also loved that Mandel wrote a group of diverse characters. In the end Clark, one of the main characters, says there was something reminiscent about the woman in the 'Station Eleven' story who travelled the world before the war. Pieces of this fictional story became a reality and any experiences before the collapse quickly became a part of history. This book is compelling and captivating. I buddy read it with my good friend Chloe  and we breezed though it. It is brilliant and one of my all time favorites now.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ {5/5}

ADVANCED READER'S COPY ~ Broken Bay by Andrea Dunlop ~ Spoiler Free

Hi my loves! It has been forever....

 
Broken Bay By Andrea Dunlop ADVANCED READER'S COPY : TO BE PUBLISHED May 2, 2017 GENRE: Adult Contemporary, Fiction, Novella PAGES: 92 FORMAT: Paperback SOURCE: Sent by author PACING: {5/5}

Broken Bay By Andrea Dunlop

ADVANCED READER'S COPY : TO BE PUBLISHED May 2, 2017
GENRE: Adult Contemporary, Fiction, Novella
PAGES: 92
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Sent by author
PACING: {5/5}

 

I am more than happy to post the cover reveal for 'Broken Bay', a novella, sent to me by the author, Andrea Dunlop.  This is an advanced reader's copy and doesn't release on e-book until May 2, 2017. It is up for pre-order and I hope you grab it and enjoy it as much I did! I was enthralled by this story of five new post millennial female friends revealing their own personal truths about men and relationships while searching for one who goes missing. Dunlop wrote the sentiments of most women struggling to define themselves amidst the pressures to be married or committed to someone by a certain age extremely well. I really liked that, although all of these characters spilled the most broken parts of themselves when it came to infidelity and other aspects of intimate relationships, they weren't forlorn or weak characters. The narrative of this story was still written from a somewhat feminist perspective. Check the synopsis below:


Synopsis:

Hannah—knee-deep in nailing down catering plans and floral arrangements for her upcoming nuptials—is ready for some R&R. Stealing off to a quiet, secluded island off the coast of Washington state for good wine and fresh air with her four best friends seems like the perfect way to spend her bachelorette weekend.

But the island may have other ideas.

Halfway through the trip, the bride-to-be mysteriously disappears, leaving the bridesmaids confused and increasingly panicked. To make matters worse, there’s something…amiss about the house they’re staying in. As the tension rises, personalities clash, secrets spill out, and the girls begin seeing and hearing things they can’t explain. While Hannah’s friends desperately try to discover what has happened to her, an ominous storm rolls in that could trap them on the island indefinitely. Now the girls who came to celebrate with Hannah begin to wonder, is she going to make it to the wedding? Is she going to make it home at all?


This novella was a page turner. I could not figure out what actually happened to Hannah until the very end. I loved that Dunlop used possible paranormal activity really as a metaphor for what was actually happening. This book reminds me of my own personal feelings about how there is this desire for women to attain a certain kind of life or lifestyle that may not really be suitable for them. It is simply an unconscious seed that has been planted by society which dictates what a woman's role is thereby creating fairytale ideas rather than a reality. All of these characters represent women in different kinds of relationships, with varying opinions about it that in hindsight help them to learn more about one another as they have transitioned into their adult roles and what that means. This book would be great coffee chatter. I absolutely loved the ending of this book. No fairytale ending. You will be surprised!

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ {3.8/5}

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

It is 2:00am and I just finished 'Caraval' by Stephanie Garber. What lead me to this book was 'The Night Circus'!! You can read my review for TNC here .  The atmosphere of The Night Circus was so magical and enthralling.  Morgenstern's writing was so rich and I craved that vibe in another book so when the buzz started for 'Caraval' I was super excited for it!

The pacing of this book was perfect up until the last few chapters before the very last chapter. Even with that, the story kept my attention and I needed to know what was going to happen next right away and I couldn't stop that's why I was able to finish it so quickly. Here's the synopsis:


Synopsis: 

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, 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. 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.


This story is truly about love and sacrifice. The main characters, Donatella and Scarlett are sisters living under the iron fist of an abusive father in Trisda. If he deems their behavior as unacceptable he brutally punishes one sister to emotionally hurt the other because he is fully aware of the connection and unbreakable bond they have. The Caraval is a seemingly unreachable magical place for both girls particularly Scarlett who is to be married off to someone she doesn't love under the order of her father. I think Caraval represents an escape from their harsh realities.

Their need to protect each other arises again as Scarlett finally gets her invitation to Caraval. They enter into a game of survival and once again have to protect each other but this time from the mysterious 'Legend' of the Caraval. The game they are playing is finding Donatella. Scarlett comes across a very charismatic sailor by the name of Julian who is not who he seems. I was intrigued by Julian because I knew he wasn't who he claimed to be, but I couldn't figure out if he was actually the villain or even Legend himself. I thought Garber wrote his character really well. In hindsight, there is too much sap between Julian and Scarlett for my taste. Although Julian's character has desirable traits, a "hot" male character is not enough to carry an entire story. Scarlett was a girl with many emotional scars so I would've liked to see her not fawning over Julian every time they had a close encounter.  She needed him for the journey, but not so much the emotional stability. I was hoping as she developed she would find that on her own.

Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.

One element of the story that I truly enjoyed were the clues given to Scarlett to find her sister. It was interesting to see her character study each clue literally, but in each clue there was really a metaphor; something much deeper. It forces her to look within herself and pay attention to things that are not just on the surface. The clues test Scarlett's will to persevere even when she doesn't completely understand what is happening. I also like that everyone in Caraval was a player in the game including Julian who actually turned out to be Legend's brother which is why he felt obligated to be involved. This was the thing that connected he and Scarlett. Julian understood what it's like to sacrifice for a sibling because you love and care for them so much.

The plot twist was that Donatella was in on it. She knew what was going on. Donatella's explanation to Scarlett about all of the events that took place; her death, Julian's death, Legend and Caraval could have been condensed into one chapters, but it ends up being roughly three chapters so that part dragged a bit for me. In the end Julian and Scarlett's death were only in the dream state and actually a part of the game. The plot twist wasn't strong for me. 

I would definitely recommend giving this book a read. It's truly an adventure. I'd say if you are a hard core fan of The Night Circus like I am and you are seeking that rich circus-vibe type narrative, don't go into this with those expectations. I think I might've psyched myself out because of that thinking LOL. Nevertheless, this book is wildly entertaining and fun so read it for what it is!

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐{3/5}