Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: The Night Circus

The Night Circus
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm going to give this a try, after seeing it pop up on at least two Powell's Books top 5 lists. I initially had dismissed it from the bad reviews on here, but now considering since fellow Portlanders like it. Portland's weird, so who knows? Maybe I will like it. Maybe I won't. But now I'm going to find out for myself. Well, if I ever make it through the library wait list. Still a little wary of the circus aspect. However, I don't like tales regarding anything marine, and I ended up loving Drowned Wednesday.


A circus has a weird place in my mind. It's a colorful, brightly obnoxious, cruel place for animals and circus folk alike. It's loud, and sticky, it's in my face, it's over-priced, and under-thrilling. I'm not a fan of the circus. There is also the newer, beautiful, artistic, eye-candy circuses. Beautiful, interesting, but too costly for my taste. This story, has made me see the circus in a third light. A different and much more enjoyable view than I've ever had regarding circus life or circus folk than I've thought I would dream of. Although it eventually drew me into this world of black, white, night times, magicians, and interesting folk, I do not think it became real enough to convince me that I might want to live through this fairy tale.

I had a little trouble getting into this story initially. Partially, I really disliked how cold and bland the characters felt at first. The heartless-ness of Celia's father, and how joyless she was. After reading for a little while further, I realized that while the prose is beautiful and very enjoyable to read, the characters and the writing itself is not very emotional. It made them seem like little paper people that were having odd and unusual lives. This is actually much how they appeared to me during reading the story, so that was fun but also a bit bizarre really, in itself.

There were lots and may I say, lots, of descriptives and even unnecessary little one-page random descriptives that appeared to be completely unrelated to the story, in the book, just to add to the bleakly whimsical aspect of this novel. It was beautifully covered in striking art and solid black pages and striped, and that certainly will stand out to many readers as they pick up this lovely-looking black & white little (kinda normal sized actually) book. All of this will make for a very quirky and unusual ride for many readers, and it may be these odd qualities that endear it to those readers as well.

For me, I felt it was lacking of much plot, but I did enjoy reading it just the same. Honestly, that's curious right there. Enjoyed, but didn't love. It was of course, a game. A contest between two students to prove whose teaching methods were superior. The stage was the circus, and the players were doing their best along with all of the unknowing pawns (casualties). I did not connect to the characters however, and as much descriptives that were in the book, it was all just too disconnected in emotion to be able to leap through the pages and find an identifiable place in my heart and mind.

It is an interesting tale, that will end up being usually a love it or hate it type of book. I found that I just did not care too much what happened to the characters in this tale, but the words were beautiful, if not lacking much compassion, along the way. For that, I did finish this novel.

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