Bookclub Review


Caraval by Stephanie Garber
**Please note this review contains spoilers**

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.
(Provided by Goodreads)

My Thoughts:
I liked it…I think. Well maybe I didn’t completely like it. No, no, no…I’m going to go with my first reaction, and that’s that I liked it! Yes, I liked it….mostly.

This is one of those books that has a really cool idea and starts off very strong, but gets weighed down by the end. The ending felt rushed, like it was so important to throw in this big twist of Scarlett’s horrible father returning to her life, her suitor in toe, that it just didn’t make sense. I thought this was a “secret island”? Apparently not, since he didn’t have too much trouble finding it. I felt the allure of the letter from the girl’s mother more intriguing then anything else. Not only does it set up the story to continue but made a rather weak ending easier to overlook.

Negativity aside, this was a cool idea. A game to win a wish, any wish you want. I got a distinct Alice In Wonderland feel from it. The island was bright and yet dark. All of the action and the hunt for the next clues happened at night. The rules and design of the game were interesting too. Players had to find the right answer to their riddles or finding the next answer would be impossible. Using what little time players had is crucial too.

Overall Garber created a distinctly unique atmosphere for readers, the promise of a wish for the winner and a game built on deceit and riddles. Players could easily waste valuable time chasing smoke and not everything was what it seemed. It was descriptive, at times overwhelming so, yet overall a clever read. I enjoyed Scarlett’s resourcefulness, I thought she was smart and followed her gut. She did her best not to let anything, or anyone, distract her from her goal.

My final rating is 3/5 stars.

For more information on Stephanie Garber and Caraval visit her website.





Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore (AKA James Frey and Jobie Hughes)

Series Summary:
The series follow the story of nine human-looking aliens brought to Earth when they were six years old. Their purpose is to grow into their powers and return to their planet, Lorien, and get it back from the evil Mogadorians. The teenagers have been protected by a charm, which only allows them to be killed in a set order, and by non-gifted guardians called Cêpan. Up to the beginning of the first book, six have survived and reached 15 years. As their powers, their Legacies, start to develop they can’t stay hidden anymore.
– From Goodreads.


My Thoughts:

I’m not going to comment on James Frey, that’s for another day and another blog post. Despite any personal musings on him, I did thoroughly enjoy this series. What I liked the most was the continuity of the series, I really get annoyed when reading a series, especially lengthy ones and having to go through what I call filler books. You know what I mean, the ones that don’t offer much to the overall story, whose most memorable events could have been summed up in a couple chapters. That didn’t happen in this series! Each character’s individual story was well thought out and made an impact to the overall tale. There was a healthy mix of viewpoints, believable teen drama, and I loved that many of the books ended in huge cliffhangers; I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next book.

My favourite character was Six, I felt that she had the hardest earth life of all the Lorien. She managed to not only take care of herself from a young age, but she didn’t let those values her Cepan taught her disappear. She is forward thinking, and did what she thought was best in any given situation. She wasn’t impulsive they way John was, and she never let anyone make her feel valueless. She stood up for herself. She was a positive role-model for Ella, and she is a fierce fighter.

This series kept me interested and pulling for its heroes to the very end. It was descriptive, at times heart-wrenching, but never boring! It’s a series I don’t hesitate to recommend at work, especially to readers looking to branch out from the bulk of YA that can be heavy on the teen-romance-drama.

I give the Lorien Legacies 5 stars.

For more on the series visit Penguin Books.

Don’t give up on hope just yet. It’s the last thing to go. When you have lost hope, you have lost everything. And when you think all is lost, all is dire and bleak, there is alway hope. – Henry (I Am Number Four).



Descender Vol 1 and 2 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen.

Summary from publisher:
One young robot’s struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. A rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey that pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling space opera from the creators of Trillium, Sweet Tooth, and Little Gotham.

My thoughts:
Absolutely loved these graphic novels. I love stories that are told from an unlikely perspective, in this case a young android designed to be a companion not a hero. Vol. 1 picks up several years after the invasion of massive highly advanced robots that have devastated the universe. We follow Tim, a companion android and his desperate search for his “family”. The story has dept and heart, it portrays a world where survival of the fittest really is a matter of life and death. Where robots are the enemy, but nothing is what it seems and lies and decpetion are a way of life.

I love Dustin Nguyen illustrations! They are far more than pictures in a comic, they are beautiful works of art. His use of watercolour and muted tones really supplied an emotional depth beyond just the words of the story.

I give both Vol. 1 and 2 a rating of 5 stars.

For more information of the Descender series visit Image Comics

Follow @JeffLemire and @duss005 on twitter.