Jessica’s review of The Night Circus > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather Absolutely perfect review. Exactly how I felt about it but couldn't put into words :)


message 2: by Lori (new)

Lori Lee I agree 100%


message 3: by Shannon (new)

Shannon I found the forward and backward flashes annoying; her verbose style of writing was exhausting.


message 4: by Tara (new)

Tara I agree. The prose and imagery is lovely and has an air of magic about it, but there just isn't a good storyline to go along with it. I'm about 1/4 from the end. It's not so bad that I wouldn't finish it - so that's saying something - but this might be one of the first books where I've actually wished for spoilers so I could find out if anything worth reading about is actually going to occur at some point. Boring!


message 5: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Completely agree.


message 6: by Becky (new)

Becky YES. This describes how I felt about it perfectly.


message 7: by Anne (new)

Anne I am loving this book. I'm currently within pages of the end and I'm reading one-star reviews for two reasons: first, to prolong my enjoyment of the book, and second, to see if the ending is going to break my heart.
There are lots of different readers in the world, so I do appreciate your review! I agree that it's not your typical type of story-telling. Myself, I'm finding the book so intense that I can only read a few pages at a time, it's so complex and visually gorgeous. I have to stop and relax my senses or it's too much to take in.


message 8: by Sara (new)

Sara I agree with Anne - I loved this book. Like many of these readers, I do tend to get bored with overly descriptive imagery as well but I found this imagery so very original, it kept even me riveted to the story. I also hate circuses and, yet again, I loved this one. There was something about this book that made me almost believe such things were possible. Perhaps they are going on all around us and we don't see??/ I wish people would mention what books they DO like in these reviews. I am curious as these reviewers seem very intelligent and literate - ha - and I would love to hear their suggestions for a good read :)


message 9: by Jessica (new)

Jessica The thing is, I often do like descriptive imagery and I think that Morgenstern did that part of this book pretty well. I just felt that the plot and the character development was lacking and her ability to drive an engaging plot forward just wasn't evident.

Feel free to look through my "read" shelf - sort it by rating to see which ones I've liked. I try really hard to write about why I like them. I also LOVE giving recommendations - what kind of story are you looking for?


message 10: by Sara (new)

Sara I just looked quickly over your fiction list. I read a lot and was amazed to see all the books on your list I have not read! I love a good story. I am tired of reading about other peoples problems, and would love a good story for a change. I loved "City of Thieves" - great characters, great plot, great, clear, vivd, well crafted writing. I tend to like historical fiction as it keeps one away from the topic of 'the problems of modern life' which I find tedious. Truman Capote's stories are amazing. Amitav Ghosh has written 2 great books ("Sea of Poppies" and "River of Smoke") where you move through time and exotic places. Things happen!! Opium wars, dangerous voyages, etc. in a well spun tale. I want more :) I am new to Goodreads and think I will like it. I would be interested to hear your recommendations - thanks


message 11: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Have you read The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht? It's magical realism, set in the Balkans, and bounces back and forth between the past and present as a woman goes to recover her grandfather's body and recalls stories from his life. It doesn't have the most tense plot but the writing is very vivid and it has unique, historical aspects. State of Wonder by Anne Patchett is great, too. Strays from the "problems of the modern life" formula and takes you into the heart of the jungle. And Kate Morton writes GREAT historical fiction if you are interested in early twentieth century England.


message 12: by Kenya (new)

Kenya Wright Thank god! Bravo for someone who is saying what I am thinking! I was wondering if I had suddenly become a moron! I 100% agree with what you are saying.


message 13: by Sara (new)

Sara Thanks Jessica - I have The Tiger's Wife in my "pile" and will check it out along with the other titles you suggest :) Many thanks for your recommendations -Sara


message 14: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Your review perfectly expresses how I felt about this novel! Thank you so much for putting it into words.


message 15: by Denise (new)

Denise i agree completely!


message 16: by Tally (new)

Tally Bravo! Excellent review - you described it perfectly.


message 17: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Thanks, Tally!


message 18: by 5inabus (new)

5inabus Nice review, justified me abandoning it at 154 pages so thanks for that! I was interested to note though that you enjoyed the Tiger's Wife - I really couldn't stand it (but you are right to make the connection between the two books as I feel they have something in common). I don't know, sometimes we just have to be in the right mood for a book, don't we? I think the Night Circus for example was well written, it bothered me that it couldn't grab me. Some books require more patience than others, and also a particular mood - I look at Cormac McCarthy on my shelf, for example, and know I love him to bits, but feel really glad that I read him 10 years ago as I reckon if I tried to read him now he'd do my head in! It just depends where we're at at any given moment, doesn't it. And sadly for Morgenstern, it seems there are a few of us that just couldn't stick around for the final act!


message 19: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Part of me thinks I should re-read The Tiger's Wife to see how well it holds up. I thought that it was kind of slow moving, but I enjoyed her prose and I loved the magical realism elements that she used.

Conversely, I have never been able to get into Cormac McCarthy's style. I understand why others like him, but his writing is difficult for me to read.

You are completely right about being in the right mood. There were some books that I read right after a bad break-up that I loved, but when I went back to them I couldn't remember why. I guess they just spoke to where I was at the time and I think that's one of the most important things about books.


message 20: by 5inabus (new)

5inabus So true - actually, I created a new Goodreads shelf "top ten again" and am hoping to find the time to read these books again this year. They have been my "top ten" for so long and I am wondering if they are indeed still deserving of that position - I haven't added or removed anything to/from it for years which just can't be right.

I guess in a sense books are marker points on a journey, aren't they, showing us the way we've come. I have to say though, I'm still a little embarrassed by how much I enjoyed "The Bronze Horseman." But I guess that's where I was back then... big sweeping sloppy romance between some girl and a tall guy with big muscles. Whereas now I'm a little more Alice Munro about things... Oh, and then how could I forget the McCarthy phase. Oh dear. I'm sure I developed a bit of a gait back then, chewed gum, and liked bandanas a little more than was healthy/trendy.

Bbbrrrr.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

This review satisfies my hatred towards this book and $23.00 I spent.


message 22: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Ha! Glad to be of service, Umair. I sold the book back to a used book store, so at least I got some of my money back.


message 23: by Maylin (new)

Maylin I too agree with Anne. It's so magical, I have to take brief pauses. Emotions weight high. I'm just a bit different. Although I am not done reading it yet, I plan on giving this book the five stars I believe it deserves.


message 24: by Bette (new)

Bette I agree completely about showing vs. telling. I was so frustrated with this book. Morgenstern was trying so hard to be imaginative and creative that I could feel the strain. And the jumping back and forth in time (just one year, usually) seemed unnecessary. The characters were flat and the plot rambled, especially in the first half of the book. I kept waiting for the story to pick up, and about halfway it did, but only somewhat. Neil Gaiman loved it, so I thought I would too. (I heard him say so in an interview.) Gaiman is a FAR superior writer!


message 25: by Jenn (new)

Jenn I think you took the words out of my mouth! I gave the books four stars because I really did enjoy the creative aspect of it but I was definitely disappointed with Celia and Marco's relationship. I wasn't overly thrilled with the plot either. It certainly did ramble a bit and the book seemed quite rushed near the end. Thanks for the review!


message 26: by Diane C. (new)

Diane C. Listening to this as a book on cd, and at disc 6, am getting bored. Yes, show, dont' tell. A disappointment. Great style, but not enough substance. Your review is right on.


message 27: by Madeleine (new)

Madeleine The thing is, you have to really pay attention to all the details. Tsukiko says that, with all magicians sent into a competition, the magical bond between them ties them close together. She had had intense feelings for her own competition before said competition was turned into a pillar of salt.


message 28: by Jessica (new)

Jessica It's been a couple of years since I read this, so I don't recall every specific plot point, but I felt like Morgenstern was telling us that the characters had intense feelings that weren't being demonstrated in an authentic way. But that's just me.


message 29: by Erin (new)

Erin I didn't feel the 'game' or the competition between them. All they did was build tents and manage a circus...I didn't seem like a life threatening suspenseful game. Nothing felt real and like you said, their 'love' was not believable.


message 30: by Natalie (new)

Natalie I agree with every single word in this review.


message 31: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Slattery When did creative writing start having rules?


message 32: by Madeleine (new)

Madeleine I must agree with Kat on this. There are no "rules" to creative writing, or else it wouldn't be creative.

That aside, all books are made to appease different audiences. Different types of people perceive things differently. I loved this book and think that the love in it was believable, and I like the way that it was written, but others don't.

Let's take another book for example. Looking for Alaska by John Green. Now, I love John Green, I am a Nerdfighter, and I absolutely adored The Fault in our Stars. After reading The Fault in our Stars, I read Looking For Alaska because of all the great things I'd heard about it. Everyone I know loves it, but I just...like it. Same with the other John Green books besides The Fault in our Stars. To me, the beginnings are great, but then the big event happens, and the last third of the book is the winding down. And some things just seem so random in his books. This also happens in the Fault in our Stars, but I think I was able to stay with it because I could connect in some way with what was going on, cancer and cancer killing people and so forth. Maybe I would keep interest in his other books if I could connect to them more. I think John Green is a marvellous writer, but his style just doesn't click with me. The same can be said about anyone else with another book, such as The Night Circus.

People just have different preferences in writing styles. Some styles are enjoyed by fewer people than others are, like Erin Morgenstern's style. And that is fine. I like it and others don't. Okay, great. Doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad book, it's just that some don't enjoy it much. Just ask the Twilight fandom.


message 33: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Walk into the writing reference section of any bookstore and explore some of the books on creative writing. Talk to anyone who's ever taken a creative writing class at any level. Yes, there are rules. No, they are not necessarily universal and they don't have to be followed to the letter every time in order for a book to succeed. Yes, a book can succeed even if it breaks those rules.

But "Show, don't tell" is far and away the most common advice given to writers and I think that Erin Morgenstern was doing too much telling and not enough showing. I felt like she was telling me facts about the characters and not providing the character development necessary to show it. It didn't work for me and that's all I was trying to say here.


message 34: by Cullan (new)

Cullan The Show/Tell thing is entirely a modern conceit. It suits the tastes of TODAY. Literature in the past was often quite florid with lengthy passages of exposition and very little dialogue. I often bristle at the thought that a novel has to follow this by-the-numbers equation. I think most modern readers are lazy. If it didn't grip you in the first paragraph, it's not worth reading. Now, I should say that this is my opinion in general and I'm not going to weigh in on the merits of this book particularly, as I have yet to read it. I arrived here in wanting to learn more about The Night Circus.


message 35: by Jessica (new)

Jessica My problem with The Night Circus, though, is not long passages of exposition and description. It's that the writer is being lazy and instead of showing us character development, she is simply stating facts about the characters and expecting the reader to go with it. I wanted the characters to have more depth and that is something you get by showing how the characters behave instead of telling us what the characters are like.


message 36: by Jessica (new)

Jessica My problem with The Night Circus, though, is not long passages of exposition and description. It's that the writer is being lazy and instead of showing us character development, she is simply stating facts about the characters and expecting the reader to go with it. I wanted the characters to have more depth and that is something you get by showing how the characters behave instead of telling us what the characters are like.


message 37: by Annalisa (new)

Annalisa Smith I agree. I started this book weeks ago (it takes me days, not weeks, to read a book!). I ended up setting it down halfway through and picking up another. It's just too long winded. I felt like I was watching a snail drag itself from one side of the dinner table to the next. I just couldn't finish it.


message 38: by Angela (new)

Angela I did a lot of eye rolling while reading this one.. Gave it 3 Stars because the creativity of the story was impressive- but was happy when it ended!


message 39: by Ghessehgoo (new)

Ghessehgoo Well said, couldn't agree more!


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