Legendary, by Stephanie Garber
I was pretty open about how much Caraval did NOT do it for me, so you might be surprised that I went ahead and grabbed the sequel. But you should never be surprised when it comes to me and bookish things, because really, I'm all over the map. In the case of Legendary, a friend recommended that I try it anyway, because it is better than the first book.
And what do you know, she was right. I properly enjoyed Legendary. Listen, it still contained some of the problems that dragged Caraval down, but the characters were fun and I felt like I wanted to hang out with them and see where all the mysteries would take them. I still felt very confused most of the time as there is so much going on. Magic cards and magical creatures. Lost mothers and lost hearts. Gods and goddesses and uncaring stars. The world has really developed way beyond the actual "game" of Caraval, which ended up seeming like a bit of a sidenote.
Sidenote: I would actually love to see a book that was about actual Caraval, the playing of it, rather than all of these giant plots about magical creatures and fates and stars. It would be so cool to play a game like Caraval, without the magic. Like an intense, week-long festival where you're tracking down clues? Does this exist? Tell me, cause I kinda want to be there.
Back to Legendary. The Fates being trapped in the deck of cards was cool, and the Fates themselves were intricate and interesting and are going to provide insane visuals - because these books will be made into movie or tv, right? That feels inevitable.
As for the characters: Once again, Scarlett puts the drag in Dragna, she is so boring. I feel like her only characteristics are "prim" and "pretty." Tella is way more interesting, she seems like the type of woman who's going to see just how far she can go on a wing and a prayer. Dante is an appropriately brooding male lead, although far less possessive and manhandle-y than Julian, so kudos to him. While I could get behind Dante, I have to say that Jacks is far more interesting. I was intrigued by him, I think because of him I'm willing to see this thing through.
Still not sure I'd recommend this series, though. They are better ones out there, if you want to get lost in a magical series about very attractive people surviving danger and being romantic with each other. I'm still a little as a loss as to why this one has caused the bookstagram internet community to lose its collective mind. If you love these books though, that's awesome, I think they provide lovely visuals and I would actually see this in a theatre, if only because I think it would be drop dead gorgeous. Is that the appeal? Beautiful circus? I'm very curious about this.