The Night Circus Book Review

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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 amazement. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night.

Before I read The Night Circus it was like a good television commercial to me. Classy title, interesting book cover and intriguing excerpts from the book. It has a lot of promises. But when I read it, it was still like a TV commercial to me, with the thought that what you see is not really exactly what you get. Don’t jump in to conclusion that this is entirely a negative review about the book. THIS. BOOK. IS. AMAZING. BUT……(there’s always a but) IT IS FLAWED. I want to show you the weaknesses and strengths of this book so you could weigh properly if you should read it or not.

STRENGTHS:

Very vivid descriptions. Writing about a novel that sets up a world not familiar to the readers is very difficult, just think about The Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games. This would’ve been easy for the readers if this is a film because visual presentation is fed up to them, but in novels, it takes a damn good writer to make people imagine the setting and atmosphere of the story. Erin Morgenstern has no problem with this aspect. The Night Circus is full of rich adjectives and clear descriptions on how the circus looks like, how it feels to be there and how things are happening there. You already feel its magic when Erin makes you see magic just through words.

Jumping of events. The Night Circus is written on a third person point of view and does not only follow the events in just one persons’ life. It jumps from character to character as the events you are following also jumps. For some it may not be a strength but for me, it certainly is. You know why? It’s because of the excitement it brings. For an old reader like me, reading a synchronized story can be boring but a story that cuts the exciting part makes you want to turn the pages even more. Well for this one, it depends on what type a reader you are because some readers do not like cutting.

Dramatic events with cinematic potential. There are parts in the book which I could definitely imagine on the big screen already. When I was reading this, for some parts I was like, “Oh wait this is for cinema!” You know all these rooms changing into gardens in just a wink and arrows that sparks up fire that changes into different colors or this scene of two lovers kissing in the middle of a ballroom in which people were freeze from motion. I don’t know but maybe Erin already wrote this with the thought that this would be adapted on screen someday. I think this is a strength because this wouldn’t only look good on screen but the emotions will surely come pouring in. It’s drama with legit emotions not the one you just shrug off.

Slow paced romance. The two competitors of a magical skill competition, Marco and Celia, fell in love with each other. I am really into a kind of love which takes more time and experience because those kind of love are most often the true ones. I’ve been reading a lot of young adults lately and fast grip on what you await for could be boring you know. Getting really attached takes time.

The whole idea of a mysterious circus with true magical experience and that which moves to different places unannounced, is really a fresh idea for me. The biggest strength of this book is it makes you so much invested on the place itself, the circus, and it takes out the curiosity in you that you would actually wish to see it like you want to see Narnia or Hogwarts.

WEAKNESSES:

However, as much I want it to be perfect, it is still not perfect. The book descriptions at the back of the book’s cover kind of instilled some wrong impressions. This is what I was referring to when I compared this to a TV commercial. For example, it said that there is a “fierce competition,” between the two main characters which are Celia and Marco. Truth is, it is not, and I’m still not even sure if it was really a competition at all. There was never a face off or duel between the two of them. They were not supposed to mind each other’s business, they just have to perform. They just used their own skills to make the circus a more magical place and some unknown criteria shall determine who excelled more. I feel like it was more like a collaboration between the two of them.

Up until now I still do not get the whole competition thing. Their father figures set them up in this confusing competition with no clear rules, no clear directions, and no clear prize. There’s nothing worthy they could get from it but the satisfaction of their father figures’ egos, they just wanted to prove who among themselves perform magic better. The reason for the competition to end is also not sensible at all. *Spoiler alert* Either Marco or Celia should die for the game to stop. The idea of death ending the game is great but Erin should have defended it more why it supposed to be that way because in the way I understood the story, neither the two of them should really kill themselves. They could’ve just kept doing what they do if they love each other so much since it seems that no harm is there if they do not stop.

There are loop holes in the way the game was created. I wish Erin could’ve given more thought to it. If she did I would’ve want to see them use the tents in  the circus while actually challenging each other face to face because there are a lot of interesting duel places in the circus. I think for a story like this, a sequel is necessary for a better exploration of the characters and their world.

When it comes to characters, there were just some that need not a whole chapter written for them (like Tara Burgess and her death which isn’t really necessary for the story to move forward) and there were some whom I wish could’ve had more back story like the father figures of Marco and Celia. Maybe we could’ve understood more why this competition is necessary if they were given more depth.

There’s just one more thing about the time element of the story; personally I would love it more if it were set in mid 1900s. I think a more recent decade would have been more appropriate since the way the book was written doesn’t actually follow a true 1800s style, the language they use most specifically.

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The ending was a huge redeeming factor to the totality of its plot flaws. It’s one of the endings that will haunt you. It’s an open-ended one but it is satisfying indeed. I actually like how it seems to be a happy ending when it’s actually a sad one.

SOCIETAL SIGNIFICANCE

I have this agenda in which from now on I would write about the possible contribution of a book to the society or to the industry of novels because I believe that every work like this should benefit a lot of people in any way possible. So….I think The Night Circus could somehow open doors for stories in which true magic in circus could’ve been more explored because this is really an interesting idea for me and I know for a lot of people who read this book too, so I think reading more about it in the future would be something to look forward to. I also think that for future authors, they could learn a lesson about what to consider when you are writing about a book with a competition like this. Competitions are really tricky you know. When you say competition, be sure that there’s a competition really going on. Make it clear. That’s all.

Thank you for reading this review and I hope you weighed if you want to experience magic with this book or not.

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