Legendary by Stephanie Garber
Book Two of the Caraval series
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
Summary (from Goodreads):
A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.
After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.
The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval...the games have only just begun.
What I Liked:
I'm actually a bit disappointed by this book, which is of course very surprise given how much I loved Caraval, and given how much everyone has loved Legendary. I felt so meh about this book while reading it, and when I finished it, I was left with a rather sour taste in my mouth. Definitely not what you would want to feel after reading a supposed masterpiece. But these things happen.
Caraval followed Scarlett Dragna, who entered Caraval in order to save her younger sister Donnatella. Legendary follows Tella, who enters Caraval in order to save her and Scarlett's mother Paloma, who has been missing for years. Paloma is trapped in a card of the Deck of Destiny, a cursed deck of cards that contains the Fates. If the Fates are released, chaos will ensue (or something like that). If Legend gets the Deck, he could gain the powers of all of the Fates in the Deck. In order to save her mother, Tella must find the Deck of Destiny. In order to uphold her bargain with a mysterious criminal who gave her information about her mother, Tella must give the criminal Legend's true identity. Tella has neither of those things, and so she must enter Caraval and win - so that she will receive the ultimate prize from Legend. It's a tricky game that Tella is playing, and it is not without consequences - or sacrifices.
In the first half of the book, I was pretty engrossed in the story. I wasn't totally sold on the whole finding-my-mother thing, but I was intrigued, and I liked Tella. I liked seeing Scarlett and Julian, though I hated the unnecessary drama (more on that below). I looooved Dante's appearances. I even loved Jacks' ridiculous, cruel self. The first half of the book was so fascinating.
I liked Tella for the most part. In book one, I pretty much hated her and branded her the most selfish, unworthy sister ever. But I liked her in this book. She is bold and uninhibited, and while she seemed selfish in Caraval, she seems more selfless in this book. It's clear that she loves her sister, but is very guarded. She is selfless when it comes to Paloma, which is how this book came to be. Finding her mother is so important to Tella.
I adored Dante and his wicked, charming self. I actually didn't totally care for him in book one, but he's so swoony and magical in this book. And not just in a love interest kind of way - the game of Caraval would not be the same without his presence. He's a charming devil, but he's also kind and sweet. He has a commanding presence about him and he has a way of popping up whenever he is needed (and whenever he isn't).
There are many Scarlett/Julian cameos which I appreciate, though I wish they were all happy cameos showing Scarlett and Julian helplessly in love. I guess that will have to wait until Finale. Still, I'm glad that Julian and Scarlett are part of this book, and an important part.
I liked the Dante/Tella romance, but there wasn't nearly enough. The author teased with this romance.
Once I reached the second half of the book, I was kind of finished with it all. I'll talk about all of my dislikes next. I can't even say I liked the ending.
What I Did Not Like:
Ugh, where do I even begin? I just felt so meh about this book at the halfway mark and beyond. What went wrong, you might ask? I have no idea.
I was never truly sold on the whole I-must-find-my-mother plot. It seemed forced and contrived, like the author desperately needed a good reason to bring back Caraval for a second time in a short period (like The Hunger Games), and so she grasped at straws and came up with Scarlett and Tella's missing mother. I just never bought into that plot. It didn't feel important.
I didn't care for the barely-there tease of a romance that was Dante/Tella. I loved Dante. I liked Tella. I loved Dante/Tella. I didn't love the lack of kisses and swoon.
And the implicated love triangle - for both Tella and Scarlett! Like two completely separate love triangles going on! What the heck! I thought Julian/Scarlett was a done deal but apparently not. You know what I hate? When girls want to make their man jealous and so they flirt with someone else. Or go find their ex. And they call it "exploring their options" or some bull***t and they want to bring about some competition between their man and the ex/side man. For real? This isn't cute. There's nothing wrong with dating. But there IS something wrong when you claim you love someone and yet you go look for your ex or another man just to make the man you love jealous, or some bull***. That's playing games and it's maddening. I'm talking about Scarlett.
Oh but Tella is embroiled in her own love triangle, don't you worry. I know she is in love with Dante by the end of the story, and I know he loves her, but there is another guy that seems to be in love with Tella and noooooooo thank you. I actually LOVE this character and I wouldn't mind a Tella/This Character pairing IF Dante had never existed. Meaning, This Character as a love interest is so unnecessary. Why though. Why.
Speaking of unnecessary, let's talking about all the unnecessary drama that is in this book. I already talked about Scarlett's bull**** that she's pulling with Julian, but I hate that she also let's so many factors bring down their relationship. She takes every little thing as a reason not to trust him. She knows who he is, what his role in Caraval is, and yet she whines about it all the time. I liked Scarlett in the first book. But she really got on my nerves in this book. And as much as I liked seeing her and Julian in this book, I would appreciated it more if there was less drama and more swoon. More of them working together as a couple, rather than Scarlett acting like a crazy girlfriend who runs off to her exes every time she believes something about her man (to put the situation in modern terms; Scarlett technically never runs to any exes, but hopefully you understand the picture I'm trying to paint). The drama is just so unnecessary. But I guess it's middle-book drama?
I think this is part of my frustration with YA these days - the drama is so unnecessary, and sequels tend to suck. In adult romance, a book is a standalone and the story is done within that one book. Thank goodness.
The ending of this book is not a happy ending. For anyone.
Would I Recommend It:
Honestly, this is one of those books where you have to read it yourself. Decide for yourself. 99% of the people who read this book love it, so what do I know? I felt so meh while reading at least half of this book. And the ending made me so sour. Not just because of the obvious love triangles, but because of the drama, and the cliffhanger, and it was just so stupid.
But again, decide for yourself. I would say that if you're on the fence, maybe just stop with the first book. Wait until the third book publishes and binge-read the series. Or just stop with Caraval. Caraval had a lovely ending and you can imagine an epilogue of Scarlett and Julian 40 years down the road, happily ever after. No need to read about unnecessary drama.
2.5 stars -> rounded up to 3 stars. Perhaps I'm being generous, and maybe I just really wanted to love the book. I was so excited about it and so prepared to love it like I did Caraval. But I'm glad I didn't buy this book because I would have regretted. I'm happy to have had the opportunity to review it (I was supposed to post this review two months ago, whoops), but I would have regretted spending the money on it. I will read Finale but it'll be a library request from me.
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