Reading this book was a joy, but then I stopped to consider the book as a whole and felt underwhelmed, so now I’m not sure what I think about this, until I write this review of course.
It begins with the front cover, as most books do. it’s eye-catching with its black, white and a dash of red and of course all those one word snippets of reviews give it an added element of what I can only term as the ‘oomph’ factor.
Further exploration gave me a bit of a start as I saw it was a Richard and Judy book club choice, for me always a bit of an embarrassment to buy (see The Greatcoat review for more views on R&J) and even worse, citing how fans of Audrey Niffenegger will enjoy the book.
I tend not to read much of these in book comments unless I need to inspire myself to begin reading but they did seem a bit overblown and dramatic at a quick glance. To the person who claims “If you are only able to read one book for the rest of your life, make sure it is The Night Circus, you won’t regret it”, well you will regret it as there are many, many better books but that is not to say this isn’t a good book, it just depends on your perspective.
As you know I don’t like to give things away and I believe in being consistent, so: The first few chapters introduce you to the main points of the book, the Circus and then the character and The Challenge, it’s a nice opening and promises many things but these two main focuses are the point of my divergence when it comes to judging the book.
The circus you will love, it’s a place everyone wants to be, unless you have no soul that is. It’s a stylish, magical setting and is superbly described, it’s a place we would all happily go and sulk when we have to leave, a place of wonder. In fact I would go as far to say as it is a good starting place when badgering people to read more as it has everything you could want in a playground.
The most important part for me was the sense that I could never visit all of its attractions, there are always new things to see, the compelling use of colour is both discreet yet flamboyant in turn, everything is very lavish, even the dullness of the colour grey seems enticing. The sense of mystery is always lurking in the shadows and the feeling that you will encounter something new and wonderful is constant. The best bit though is that all the senses are tantalised, it’s not just visual images, but smells, sounds, the tactile feel of the heavy curtains as you push through to enter the circus…
Having regressed to the wonder of a child within the circus,you then get the contrast in the outside world with the darker overtones and machinations of the plot which add spice and allow it to keep you rooted in both the sense of expectation and the enjoyment of something darker and more adult.
It’s with the plot that the book loses it however, after a good start, the characters do not seem particularly complex, being that the book is plot driven this is fine but anyone who looks closely at the two main characters won’t find much in the way of hidden nuances. If the characters were as well rounded as the setting in which they act their drama then this book would have been absolutely magical.
so all in all, I’m left with the sense of immense enjoyment at a book that didn’t thrill me plot wise like it promised to in the opening chapters, if you can get past the overhyped nature and don’t expect to much from it, it will be an enjoyable read. it is for this that I am glad I do not employ a ratings system for my books, I always knew there was a reason.
It is worth pointing out as well that the film rights have been sold and this will likely be the ideal medium for it as a film won’t need to explore any subtle character complexities and can concentrate on being visual and extremely fancy in its special effects..