To what lengths are you willing to go for life-changing money? Imagine a post-apocalyptic world. The kind of world we see in films where an asteroid or a catastrophic climatic event has changed everything we love about our current world. Governments are just recovering; there’s no education, very few factories and businesses, no agriculture; in short, essential luxuries are only readily available to the rich. In such a world, earning a dime would be a struggle. Yet, you would still need to make a living. So, again, to what lengths do you think you would be willing to go to earn life-changing money?
Carnival Panic by Catori Sarmiento is a suspenseful science fiction story about a game where the winner walks away with ten million. The game, Carnival Panic, however, is no ordinary game. It is like an escape room – players enter an arena and have to solve some puzzle to proceed to the next. But the puzzles are not easy, and the wrong solution often results in injury or even the maiming of an arm or a leg. There are six contestants, and only one wins; there’s not even a consolation prize for second place. The story is set in a dystopian future world. In this grim world, access to basic human needs such as food, water, and healthcare is not easy. Most people are living in turmoil. The few luckier ones live in self-sustaining habitats while the one percent shelter themselves in gated communities to ignore the chaos that is the reality.
Sarmiento writes beautifully, using vivid descriptions to add depth to the horrible game and add dimensions to a world that is in stark contrast to our own. Descriptions are so vivid that you can’t help but wince when a contestant gets injured. I appreciated the meticulous descriptions of what a specific arena looks like as it really made me feel like I was there.
Each character felt distinct and easy to relate to. With simple prose, the story keeps the focus on the characters, the game, and how the two are at odds. Each chapter covers not only a specific character’s maneuverings through the game but also who they are, why they are in the game, and what they want to do should they win the money. This book is unpredictable and kept me guessing in every chapter. Catori Sarmiento has an impressive way of building up a character and then having the game pull them apart. Carnival Panic was a fun, yet dark, read that I enjoyed.
Pages: 204 | ASIN: B081Y5GR41