Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Published: 2011; Pages: 387
Genre: Fiction/Realistic Fantasy
In Short: Celia and Marco are tied together at youth to compete with one another in a battle of skill at the grand venue of the night circus. Set in the late 1800s.
Why I read it: Because if your friends jumped off a bridge, wouldn’t you? Also I’m testing out a new face-to-face book club and this was the April selection (though I asked for and received it for Christmas).
Thoughts in General: First there was extreme hype about this book. And then a fair amount of criticism. I feel lucky that I waited a few months for the hype to die down so that I could go into this one with lowered expectations (how’s that for a start?). The Night Circus is a vivid and vibrant book that will immediately transport you from your comfy reading chair to a magical and wondrous world. There is no question in my mind that this book will make a fantastically gorgeous movie—and I’m thinking that only Tim Burton could properly pull it off (movie has been optioned by Summit).
The criticism? That the book contains flat and/or underdeveloped characters. Yes, it’s true (well, about them being underdeveloped). Did this bother me? Nope. I do prefer to read more character centered books (generally speaking), but not always and this one worked perfectly fine the way it was. Sure I would have loved to know some of the back story—could there be a spinoff?—but I didn’t need to know. Honestly the book is about the circus and the circus is so well drawn that there isn’t much room left for strong character development. I still cared about the characters and was interested in them.
So basically what worked well for me while reading The Night Circus was the atmosphere, the phenomenal descriptions, the depth and layer of detail. The characters were all very interesting—and I disagree that they were flat. Perhaps instead there were too many characters for enough focus to be put on any one. My biggest quip comes from the heavy shroud of mystery; there was constantly so much unknown and it became too much of a tease to the point where I started to disconnect a little bit. I also did not entirely agree with the choice of ending—the “right place at the right time” wasn’t satisfactory enough for me given the heavy themes of fate in the book.
Bottom Line: I’m a big fan of going into books blindly without knowing too much, but I think with this one it’s good to know what you’re going to receive from the story and what you’re not. Brilliant setting and atmosphere and mediocre characters. This one was suggested at my work book club and several people had already read it—and loved it. I was the only one of the new book club who enjoyed this one! The big complaint was lack of plot (disagree) and not caring about the characters (also disagree). I will say that I was more interested in this one when I attempted to read 200 pages in one day—my heart was literally racing at some places where I tore past the pages. Bottom Line – I hope you enjoy it but don’t feel bad if you don’t. *wink*
Have you read this one? Love it, Like it, or Hate it? If you haven’t read it, will you or no?
On the Blog:
One Year Ago – Introducing Baby Girl – April 25th, 2011
Two Years Ago – Brooke’s Notecards and Bookmark Winner
Three Years Ago – Sunday Salon 5 – Back to Basics
Four Years Ago – Weekly Geeks #1 and Challenge Questions