Friday, April 20, 2012
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
Release date: September 13th 2011
Published by: Doubleday
Genre: Young Adult
Rating: 2/5 stars
Find it on: Goodreads, Amazon
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 amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
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. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.
I'll start by saying I was absolutely thrilled about The Night Circus after I read the synopsis. It doesn't exactly give us a lot of details about the story, but is enough to give you an idea of what the author will write about. A magic circus, two magicians that get themselves into a duel, and somehow fall in love. The big problem is, the synopsis is a lie.
Erin Morgenstern probably tried to introduce us to the circus by explaining how it got created. And how both magicians, Celia and Marco, started to work there. This would've been fine, if the characters weren't absolutely dull and flat, especially Celia and Marco, which is kind of ironic, really, since they're supposed to somewhat resemble main characters. But with dialogues that look like endless streams of nonsense, the characters don't have any depth, and I mean that. I wasn't able to connect with a single character in this book, they all felt superficial and just plain boring.
And that brings me to the next topic: the writing itself. Maybe that's the reason the characters felt so dull. The truth is, I don't know, but the writing bothered me immeasurably. The narrator would just describe what was happening, turning pages and pages into repetitions of "she said, he said, he did that, she did that, he sighed, she sighed", and then, suddenly, he would start talking about the person's feelings, out of nowhere. It was so abrupt and unnecessary. If you only describe what's happening in a scene, we, as readers, don't have the slightest idea what the character is feeling. But if that's your writing style, then stick with it. Do not jump back in forth.
Aside from the writing... I just don't understand why this book is set in 1897. To be honest, the atmosphere is quite nice and welcoming, but the chapters confused me. Let's just put it this way: Chapter One is set in 1897, Chapter Two is set in 1907, Chapter Three is set in 1894, Chapter Four is set in 1899, and Chapter Five is set in 1897 again. It's something like this. And it's confusing as hell! How am I supposed to stick with the story and have a decent timeline, when the author herself can't decide?
Not to mention that the romance doesn't make sense. It's worse than Twilight. Marco and Celia barely look at each other throughout the book, they barely even talk, and then sparks fly, with no reason whatsoever. I have several questions for this romance, actually: Why do they fall in love? Why did the author spend several pages talking about characters that didn't matter to me at all, that just weren't important? I don't care if the guy who created the circus' clock is traveling and likes to drink his coffee without sugar. I just don't care.
The amount of unnecessary chapters, and details about people we don't give a hat about, only makes the fact that The Night Circus has no plot whatsoever more evident. I still can't conclude if this book was supposed to talk about the circus, about the people who created the circus, about Marco and Celia's duel (which is nonexistent as well), or about Marco and Celia themselves. Or if it's supposed to talk about all that. Either way, it failed.
Maybe I'll someday pick it up and try to get the characters. I know I'll give The Night Circus another shot, but right now? I can barely glance at the cover. To think such a beautiful premise, such an enchanting story, could turn out to be such a dull book, is disappointing. Lost potential, indeed. If you're interested about the synopsis, though, read a sample. Who knows, maybe you'll enjoy it.