Angie Elle is back today to talk with me all about Caraval by Stephanie Garber! We had a lot to say, but it’s a two part post. The first half of our discussion is being hosted on Angie Elle’s blog, Books and Beauty are my Bag!
If you’re curious about the world building or the relationships, you won’t want to miss Part 1 on BaBAMB! You can come right back. I promise not to go anywhere. 😀
*Please be advised that since this is a discussion, there will be spoilers.
Scarlett’s father was quite a villain. What did you think of him and his part in this story?
Angie Elle: On the one hand, I feel like he was a bit exaggerated. Like, a man who runs a country would be wily enough to put on a ‘good father’ show for others that are around. But on the other, I think the events surrounding Caraval were so exaggerated that he needed to be if he was going to stand out as a true villain in this story. It would have been easy for a ‘lighter’ villain to fall by the wayside. And while he may have not been in this story much, he was the reason for it all. It was essential that the reader buy his meanness to appreciate Scarlett and Donatella’s motivation.
Birdie: It took me a while to decide who I thought was the ‘true’ villain of the story. Once I had established who was worst, I was a little underwhelmed. I’m not saying he wasn’t evil, because obviously anyone who could do something like that to their children is a monster, but I also felt like he wasn’t really around enough to feel like the ‘true’ villain of the story. I’m not sure I think there was a villain at all. Just a human monster who turned tail and ran the moment someone stronger came around. So, I guess I thought he was more pathetic. (I am curious about the fear that Scarlett saw on his face at one point, and what happened with their mother.)
Angie Elle: I do think he was a villain of the story. And I think it was meant to be a twist that didn’t quite work out. I think Legend was supposed to be the ‘perceived’ villain of the story, and then at the 11th hour wait! He had better intentions than we thought. So the part of the villain was pinned on the father.
Birdie: I agree 100%. I think you could tell too, and that’s why he ended up not being much of a villain.
How did you feel about Legend?
Birdie: At which point? My opinion on Legend changed so much over the course of the book. He went from the potential hero, to evil villain, and then he went back to being somewhere in the middle. I know that I’m intrigued, and eager to know more. It’s probably the main reason I’m looking forward to the sequel.
Angie Elle: I hated him up until the very end. I was convinced that he was playing puppet with Scarlett and Tella because of his past with their grandmother.
Birdie: I thought there was something romantic about him in the beginning. However, once the game got rolling everything started feeling so much more devious and ominous.
Angie Elle: I didn’t ever view him as romantic. I was pretty sure Caraval started the moment Julian appeared on the island where the girl’s lived. That was pretty much my one theory that I never wavered on.
Birdie: Well, I’m impressed because I never realized. I bought his stories hook line and sinker!
How did you feel about the sisters in the beginning, vs the end? Did they grow?
Birdie: Scarlett grew, definitely. It was a growth we got to read. In the beginning she was set on marrying for protection and had already started letting go of her dreams. At the end, she found her… I don’t know, light maybe. It’s hard to think of the right word. Tella, on the other hand, I don’t think she changed. I didn’t like her much at first, but I think that Tella was more of a mystery that we were unraveling, rather than her growing.
Angie Elle: Honestly, I didn’t see much growth in either. I think Scarlett just went through some life altering things, and made tough choices like anyone would do. I don’t feel like there was a lot of growth. There was a lot of adventure and things revealed that changed the course of her life, but I’m not sure she grew much. And I guess I didn’t see Scarlett necessarily marrying for protection. Like you mentioned, this book had a historical feel to it, and I felt like she was getting married because it was what was expected of her. And she was hoping it would result in being protected from her father. But either way, protected or not, she didn’t have a choice in the matter.
Birdie: I’m not sure she would have been so prepared for marriage if she’d had a normal loving father. It felt like she put everything she had into those letters from the count specifically because it was an escape from the abuse, for both her and her sister. For me, it read like she believed he was their only chance to be saved, and so she threw herself into believing he was good. If she hadn’t felt like she had to get away from her dad, I don’t think she would have ever sent the last letter to Legend. In her mind, she was actively setting aside what she saw as childish things.
Angie Elle: I agree with what you’re saying about her letters. I just think that the fact that she was willing and able to do that proved how hopeful and naive she was. And I found it refreshing after what she’d been through. I didn’t feel like she was approaching her impending marriage with a sense of doom, which was her mindset when it came to her father. You might be right about her letters, but I don’t think a conscious effort to set aside things you view as childish (or immature, I think, is a better word for me,) a bad thing when you’re getting married. It was a fresh start for her, and that meant letting some things go.
Birdie: She was definitely hopeful and naive, I couldn’t agree more. She wouldn’t even entertain the idea that The Count wasn’t being honest with her until Tella said it. I guess to me it felt like she was balancing the unknown with the known. She knew they were unsafe with her father, so as a coping mechanism she wouldn’t allow herself to think that The Count was anything less than heroic. Because she was naive. Because she believed it was their only way out. However, I don’t think it was what she really wanted, down inside her heart, where she refused to listen anymore. And, I guess that’s where I feel like I saw her growth.
But, you’re right, it is the perfect example of how two people can read one character’s actions and apply different motivations. AND, it makes an excellent talking point!
Would you have chosen to be a participant or observer in Caraval?
Birdie: Ummm, I think knowing me I’d have decided to be an observer. I love to read or watch the adventure, but I’m not really one to dive right in. I might be more apt to try after having the opportunity to observe once. Plus, I’m not really keen on going mad.
Angie Elle: I tend to make off the cuff decisions, so probably a participant. And I think it wouldn’t have been long before I regretted it!
Birdie: Probably about the time you died for two days!
Angie Elle: I so would have given up all my secrets before I died! They would have shoved me out of that shop with every dress they had just to shut me up! LOL
What do you imagine happened with Scarlett at the end of Caraval?
Birdie: I like to think that Scarlett chose to stay with Tella. I’d like to think that Scarlett, Julian and Tella are all together again for whatever comes next. In our last discussion series, I’d hoped for the main character to live a normal life and grow old in peace. For this series, I’m hoping for the exact opposite.
Angie Elle: You know, I really don’t know. I think it was so open ended that it didn’t feel like an ending, and it makes it impossible for me to even guess what their happily ever after (or even just after,) is like. I don’t think they’re there yet. I think it’s going to be more adventure that I can’t even guess at.
Do you have any theories for the sequel, Legendary?
Birdie: I’m not sure I should even try! Caraval’s magic makes me get them all wrong! Like I said, I hope that Scarlett and Julian are both still part of the story. I’m invested in them, far more than Tella, so I’m nervous that they aren’t. When I read the quick synopsis for the sequel I admit to more than a few misgivings.
Angie Elle: Yes. I am wondering if Scarlett and Tella will become actors and travel with Julian and Caraval. I mean, the name of the next book is Legendary. It has to take place in the Caraval world, right? Of course, we know what happens with theories in this series. And I am also hoping that we get to see some brotherly bonding. I’d love to read more about Julian and Legend’s dynamic!
Birdie: YES! I want that too! Some interaction is needed.
Obviously we both loved it! If you haven’t read Caraval, I think you might love it. If you have read it, we’d love to hear your thoughts! What was your interpretation of Scarlett? What do you think of Legend? Were you a fan?
For more on Caraval disccusion, visit our friend Chizurue at Mnemosyne! Thank you so much for reading!