Alumna debuts YA novel, sells movie rights

Alumna debuts YA novel, sells movie rights

Lily Tran, Feature Editor

“‘Welcome, welcome to Caraval! The grandest show on land or by sea. Inside you’ll experience more wonders than most people see in a lifetime. You can sip magic from a cup and buy dreams in a bottle. But before you fully enter into our world, you must remember it’s all a game,’” participants are warned before playing the game.

Bear Creek alumna Stephanie Garber, who graduated in 1998, recently took the young-adult fantasy world by storm with her debut novel “Caraval.”

“[Garber] has been writing for a long time,” photography and ceramics teacher Jane Somers, who attended Bear Creek at the same time as Garber, said. “She’s dedicated years to writing and she loves writing.” Garber is a creative writing teacher at William Jessup University in Northern California.
“Caraval” was Garber’s sixth attempt at getting a novel published after she was rejected five times.

“It’s been her dream to get her book published,” Somers said.

And this dream was successfully achieved with the book gaining large popularity.

The story follows two wealthy sisters, Scarlett and Donatella “Tella” Dragna, and their escape from their abusive father to participate in the magical game called Caraval.

Scarlett is just about ready to be married off to a count she never met and take her sister away with her when Master Legend, the creator of Caraval, sends her a long-desired invitation to experience the magic a week before her arranged wedding. Terrified of missing her chance to leave home and escape her father, she refuses to go.

But Tella has other plans, and with the help of the mysterious sailor Julian, kidnaps Scarlett to sail off to Legend’s private island where Caraval will be played. When Scarlett reaches the island with only Julian, she realizes that Tella is gone, only to find out that Tella has been kidnapped as part of the game.

Together, Julian and Scarlett set off on a dark adventure to find her sister before the game ends in five nights. She must find her sister to win the game or risk a cruel and dark ending for Tella.

Garber sold the publishing rights to Flatiron Books in a two-book deal and translation rights have been sold to 25 international publishers. “Caraval” has gained popularity since its publication on January 31 and is currently in the number four spot on the NYTimes Young Adult hardcover bestseller list.

The book even sold its movie rights to 20th Century Fox, the same film corporation that produced book adaptations like John Green’s “The Fault in our Stars” and James Dashner’s “The Maze Runner.”

“Caraval” is a magical, twisted, and immersive story. It’s nearly impossible to tell what’s real and what is just part of the game. People turn out to be something completely different than they say they are. The way the game is orchestrated is very clever and there are many shocking plot twists that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Readers may often find themselves believing one thing only to have the story move in an entirely different direction. The details are interesting, unique, and revealing at times. In the game, participants can buy items with things like days of their life, resulting in temporary death, or telling secrets like their worst fear or their heart’s desire instead of using cash. It’s a very alluring story.

The characters, especially the females, have very enticing personalities. The main characters all have something to hide that builds mystery and tension in the story. The females were smart and strong and defied the constrictions that tried to hold them back in society.

“I had a really hard time as a teenager,” Garber said in an interview with “The Record.” “I think teenage girls need to be validated.” Her difficult teenage experience influenced her to write a strong and smart character.

Scarlett proved to be a very strong protagonist. She often struggles with her desires and her duties to protect her sister. At first, she holds back from what she wants, keeping her focus on finding and protecting her sister. But later, Scarlett grows to learn how to balance her wants with her needs and becomes a truly dynamic and beautiful protagonist.

“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval,” Scarlett’s grandmother tells her, “it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself to magic in this world.”