Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book Review - The Night Circus

As part of the Literary Junkies book club, I recently read "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern.  This is a book I probably would not have picked out on my own, but I'm glad I read it.  I had heard a few people say it starts slow, so I think I had low expectations and actually enjoyed the beginning.  Overall, I would say I liked it, but I didn't love it.  As I thought about it more, I actually started to like it less.  Some pros and cons are listed below, but here is fair warning that there are spoilers. 

SPOILER ALERT - if you intend to read this book, you probably shouldn't read my comments below!   

  • I really loved the imagery of the circus.  It just seemed so whimsical and I was definitely imagining it as I read. 
  • I thought the beginning of the book was really interesting.  When I didn't really know what was going to happen, or how things were going to unfold, I was very anxious to find out as soon as possible.  
  • Some of the characters were very engaging.  I really enjoyed the Poppet and Bailey storyline.  For some reason, their relationship felt more realistic to me than the main romance.  

  • The love story was just kind of blah for me.  It felt very forced and unhealthy.  I mean, they were both basically raised by completely insane magicians who were training them for an obscure challenge.  Then they meet and OF COURSE they are going to be attracted to each other.  They are the only 2 people in the world who can relate to the very bizarre situation.  It felt less romantic, and more co-dependently creepy to me.      
  • I'm not sure if it was supposed to be a surprise twist, but I thought it was pretty obvious from the beginning that one of them was going to have to die.  After the story about the magician getting trapped in the tree instead of dying, I was pretty sure they would trap themselves in the circus. 
  • I guess I didn't understand why they couldn't just both keep doing the circus for awhile, Since the previous contest lasted for so long, what was stopping Marco and Celia from "competing" for the next 50 years, until one of them dies naturally and then the other one is the default winner?   I think the author was trying to say that Isobel had put some sort of protective spell over the circus, and when she took it off, then it wasn't sustainable anymore, but that wasn't super clear. 
  • Bailey's email address at the end was just awkward.  I get that she is trying to say the circus is still going strong 100 years after the main story takes place, and obviously Bailey is now under the "not aging" spell, so the whole plan worked.  It just seemed a little weird. 

The Literary Junkies had our first book club chat tonight via Twitter, so if you follow me, you were probably inundated with #literaryjunkies tweets.  It was so much fun to hear what everyone else thought of the book.

So, have you read this book?  What did you think of it?


  1. I went in with high expectations, and I think that maybe was my downfall... Most of the people in my bookclub really liked it, but the other girl and I who picked it could only focus on all the issues we found - my list of pros & cons was very similar to yours, especially the email address. Oooh that bugged me!

  2. I went in with really low expectations, so I was pleasantly surprised by it. I really enjoyed the first of the book and the developing plot more than the last quarter. By then, I had already figured out what was going to happen; like you said, it's pretty obvious one is going to need to die. Though, I didn't quite expect them to trap in the circus, but I'm not really sure what I thought would happen.

  3. I think the problem with the book is you almost have to read it in one sitting to get everything that is going on. The bond fire created a protection and tied Marco to the circus. With him doing that it slowed their time so they were hardly aging. The problem with just continuing the competition is that eventually it would become too much for them to sustain. That is what would kill them. The weight of the creations they were sustaining coming crashing down on top of them. Those are the two main reasons they couldn't just continue the competition until one of them dies naturally. Also, it seems as though you live 10 times longer anyways if you are a magician. I'm not really sure how that works but Alexander, Hector Bowen, and Tsukiko seem to just stay at the same age. Except for Hector when he messed up his experiment. Overall, I really liked the book. I knew Celia would try and tie herself to the circus but I didn't know if she would succeed an there would be a happy-ish ending. I do agree with you about their love story though. It was very co-dependent. It wasn't natural attraction. I didn't think the love between them was the best part of their story. I liked the creativity they both showed throughout the book. The way they always created things to compliment the other. My favorite however was Poppet and Widget and their story. I have a few of the same complaints but I started this book not knowing what to expect and was pleasantly surprised.