Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

ISBN: 9780307744432
Release Date: January 1, 2011
Series: No, Stand-Alone
Page Count: 515 pages
Find it on Goodreads


"The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance."

This book was too unique for me to just do a standard review on it. It may not have been my favorite book but it was the most peculiar (in a good way) book I think I've ever read. So it definitely deserves something a little bit outside of the box - aka outside of my standard bulleted review style and with pretty colors :)

I got this book from my friend Ashley who read it and absolutely loved it. It wasn't something I had planned to read right away but it just so happened she left it for me right when I had finished one book and hadn't yet picked up another. For those of you who know me, you know I am a creature of habit and planning. I have my reading/posting schedule worked out from now until the beginning of January. Either way, I decided to add a bit of spontaneity to my life and picked it up and started reading it right then and there.

I was enchanted by the first few chapters and patiently waiting for the story to really begin. A few days later and quite a few more chapters in, I was feeling confused and wondering when it was all going to come together. Half-way through and it still hadn't come together. The last one hundred pages, and by this time I was laboring to get through this, were fantastic, of course. That was generally my experience with this book. Overall, this wasn't my favorite book, but I'm actually kind of in awe of the entire thing. Let me tell you why:

The Night Circus was 515 pages of absolutely beautiful, intricate world building. Maybe we can call it "circus building", as the "world" was the circus more often than not. Morgenstern spent much time laying out details of tents that you can almost imagine, except the details are such that you can. You can imagine it thanks to Morgenstern's amazing descriptive passages and the entire premise is amazing. I suppose in retrospect, I'm hard pressed not to like this book because of how amazing it is as a whole. The story itself, while I had some issues with it, was beautiful and haunting and the ending was very satisfying. I suppose you're wondering why I gave this book 3 stars then, if it was so amazing, right?

My biggest issue was that I felt absolutely no emotional connection to the characters for at least 75% of the book. By the end, I barely cared about the main characters and the only characters I was actually rather fond of were the characters Herr Thiessen, Bailey, Poppet and Widget, who kind of took a back seat until at least half way through the book. The plot, while it seems to be extremely well thought out and put together considering the way it jumped back and forth in time, was too confusing to me. I've talked to several people, including my friend Ashley who let me borrow this book, who said they liked how it jumped back and forth. I am not one of those people. Maybe my attention span is too short? In a way I liked that it jumped back and forth because the story was constantly focusing on someone else and never lingered to long on one storyline, and that is good for my short attention span; however, I barely paid any attention to the time frame established at the beginning of each chapter so how was I supposed to remember what year one chapter happened in in reference to the next chapter I am reading, or the chapters I'll be reading next? Even if I had paid attention to the time frames, I was hard pressed to remember what year it was while trying to keep track of everything else that was going on in the story. I couldn't do it. It worked for the story and added to the overall mystery, and the fact that I wasn't completely and totally lost even though the jumps spanned years at a time attests to the fact that Morgenstern really thought this one out and it worked... just not for me.

I can't deny that the cover is beautiful as well as the
 illustrations for it.
The other thing I couldn't get past in this book was the pacing. Maybe that could be attributed to the jumping back and forth in time also? The copy I had was 515 pages long, and as I mentioned before, things really only started to move around page 375-400. The pacing was just off for me and it was just too long and drawn out in my opinion. For quite some time in the story, nothing really happened. About half way through, we see a plot develop, not just world building, and thats when I was able to get into it more. All in all, having taken me three weeks to read this book, you can see why I dropped two stars on this one.

With that being said, I don't think I've ever read anything as beautifully written as The Night Circus. You'd think I wouldn't want to read anything else by an author who wrote a book I didn't love, but I'm so impressed and in love with Morgenstern's writing style that I hope she writes something else soon, and I'm going to give her another try. This book and the premise has so much potential. I just wish the first 400 pages could've been just like the last 100.

I'm rather glad I read this book because it got me out of my box. I've been reading a lot of YA dystopian novels and I am probably going to read a bunch more after this, but it was nice to read an adult (totally non-smutty) novel once again, and remember why its nice to come out from under the YA rock I've been living under. Thanks to my dear friend Ash for recommending it! I suppose I didn't love it as much as you did, but I surely was able to appreciate it for what its worth.


Have any of you read this book? I know some of you have, and most of you loved it (except for one fellow blogger who has been keeping up with my rants about this book and agrees with a lot of my points). I'd love to know what you thought and if you agree or disagree with me!


No comments:

Post a Comment

I love hearing from readers and fellow bloggers! Make sure you leave a link to your blog and let me know if you're following, and I'll pay you a visit and follow back! :)