From my extensive knowledge of intellectual stuff (and by that I mean reading The Mortal Instruments), I know that Morgenstern means Morning Star, or Rising Star, or something.
Right, back to the review.
I don’t know how to introduce this. I feel like I’ve slowly gotten progressively worse at reviewing books, because I can never decide what to give things. Before, it was like “HUZZAH! THIS IS FOUR SHURIKEN STARS!”, and now I just don’t know.
Who cares, let’s give it a go anyway.
The blurb on the copy I read is really awesome. It’s actually the first three lines of the book:
“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
So I’d say go with that one, but if you want a really bad, made up summary, here goes nothing:
There’s this competition thing between these two really annoying old men, who enter these two kids to “fight” in (it’s not really fighting. It’s not even really competing) Le Cirque de Reves (imagine there is a weird hat thing on the first ‘e’). Then the kids grow up and fall in love.
I realised that about halfway through the book (around 200 pages in) that nothing had really happened. It was still all build up. Pretty good build up, but still it hadn’t gotten to the main crux of the story yet. The entire book isn’t really a plot driven book, it’s more an setting and atmosphere driven book.
So there are about 200 to 300 pages of set up, and then afterwards, the plot seems very forced. It’s not only late to arrive, but feels very contrived and not that believable. It did feel like (I don’t want to type Morgenstern out loads of times, and I don’t feel like Erin Morgenstern and I are at the point where I can just refer to her by her first name, so we’re gonna call her EM) EM was just forcing a plot in because she realised that she needed one.
Seriously, the relationship with Celia and Marco was so contrived. I mean, I know it shouldn’t feel like it because years and years pass, but it really did feel like insta-love, because we don’t see most of the interactions between them to understand how they fell in love with each other. It feels very sudden (or at least it did to me, but hey, I’m an open hater of insta-love). I thought it was more built on fascination and flirting than actual love.
The ending also felt way too easy. Like seriously, I would have preferred a lot less happy of an ending. (Maybe I’m sadistic. Maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m overusing brackets/parentheses. Maybe I should stop rambling and get back to the review.)
Marco was annoying.
Not in the usual way that most characters annoy me, as in what he says and what he chooses and who he is in love with (AKA Nora) do, but in the way that for someone so clever, he is really stupid. Seriously? How did it take him what, 10 years to break up with Isabel? Isobel? Isabelle? Isobelle? Seriously, I read this book last year, I cannot remember most of it. I do remember being annoyed at him, though.
Some of the characters came off as very bland, because they weren’t really the central characters to the story.
Marco and Celia weren’t the central characters to the story, either, the circus was.
And the Night Circus was pretty awes0me as a character so it’s all good.
But seriously, Marco, get your act together. Tell your girlfriend who don’t even see most of the time that you want to end it BEFORE falling in love with this girl that you have the murder.
Was not the competition that I was expecting. It was like interior design.
Well, really advanced interior design with magic and stuff, but still interior design.
You’d think with those really awesome magic powers they would do something really cool and interesting, like battles or fights or at least, a wizard’s chess game like in Harry Potter, but no.
I think that some of the people’s disappointment with this book probably stems from the misleading blurb on some of the other editions. Here’s an excerpt:
“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, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.”
So that sounds like something really action packed and face to face and awesome, but it’s not. It’s really not.
The duel is who can add the most pretty rooms in the Night Circus. That’s not an exaggeration, it’s seriously just that.
The two contenders barely see each other.
It’s not really a competition, since they are basically working together, and making rooms for each other, like magic flirting.
And I really did not get a sense of impending doom at all. At all. Not even when people died.
A lot of things factor into a book, which include atmosphere, setting, characters and plot. The Fault in Our Stars is mainly driven by it’s characters. The plot is simple (girl with cancer falls in love with guy with cancer, something bad happens, the end), the setting is simple (modern day), and the atmosphere is pretty common in most comtemporary, young adult literature (light and humurous but also brutally sad). The complex and interesting characters in TFIOS are what, to me, really make the book interesting and brilliant.
Most zombie books (I can’t really say this with much certainty, since I haven’t read that many zombie books), are plot driven. An example of this would be Undead, which I’m only naming because it’s one of the few zombie books that I’ve read (You want recommendations on zombie books? Ask Yanni, she loves them). The characters are very stereotypical (the jock, the tomboy, the nerd, the vain blonde) but the plot is fast paced and constantly moving.
But the Night Circus is different. The characters aren’t what makes the Night Circus special to me, and neither is the plot. There are no extreme emotions I get when a character dies, or suffers, or succeeds. It’s the entire atmosphere of the Night Circus, and the circus itself, that really carries the story and the beautiful writing style and visuals created through these words.
And that is awesome, because the Night Circus is awesome. I really want a film to be made of the Night Circus (either animation or real, both will work), because it’s so visual and enticing and awesome. Also, I feel like so many of the ideas were so vivid but would be carried out a lot better with a film format. The black and white theme and all the tents and the entire atmosphere, I feel, would be carried out a lot better in a film. Also, I think I would feel a lot more emotional connection to the characters on the screen, since those subtleties in emotion would be portrayed a lot better to be seen than read about.
When Celia has her fingers constantly sliced open and she has to heal them over and over again… Man, that was cool. And the bit where she took the pocket watch apart. Holy crap I want to see all those scenes on screen, it would be awesome. It would be like awesome awesome. The two tutors were both really creepy and awesome and yeah. Basically yeah.
Gorgeous Writing Style
This isn’t really enough to make a whole separate point, as it doesn’t really need explaining, but come on. Erin Morgenstern can WRITE.
Beautiful and completely fitting to the atmosphere and the colour scheme matches the circus and the drawings are beautiful yet it’s intricate enough to be eye catching and simple enough to stand out.
Use of Second Person
One of the great things I loved about the Night Circus is that you wanted so badly to visit this magical place full of amazing things. And the use of second person was brilliant to really entice the reader into the circus.
- “You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”
- “We lead strange lives, chasing our dreams around from place to place.”
- “You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Rêves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus.
You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.”
- “You’re in the right place at the right time, and you care enough to do what needs to be done. Sometimes that’s enough.”
3 3/4 shuriken stars for the Night Circus. I think lots of people would fall deeply in love with the Night Circus, but personally, I’m the sort of person who prefers character development, so it wasn’t for me. But I am definitely going to read whatever Erin Morgenstern writes next, because good god, can that woman write.