My first thought when closing the final pages of this book was "WOW!” I haven't read a thriller recently that packs quite as much of a punch as this o...moreMy first thought when closing the final pages of this book was "WOW!” I haven't read a thriller recently that packs quite as much of a punch as this one. It tells the story of a group of four friends who decide to go into business together with a new, original idea. They set up an agency to say 'sorry' on behalf of their clients - the idea is that big businesses don't want the embarrassment of having to admit in person that they're wrong, so our protagonists do it for them, for a fee. All is going well, until one unusual request sets them on a spiral that will change all of their lives forever.
The action starts on the first page and doesn’t let up throughout. Reading the blurb I expected this to be an average thriller, but it’s better than many I’ve read. There are many twists and turns and you’re never quite sure where the author is going to take you next. The characters are flawed, but you can’t help but like them and so when things start to turn sour you find yourself rooting for them. The writer also handles multiple narration perspectives surprisingly well – sometimes it’s third person, sometimes first and occasionally even second person, which is a little strange at first but works really well in this novel. It’s not for the faint-hearted – there were plenty of passages that left my heart racing and there’s a fair bit of gore, plus some sensitive subject matter. If that doesn’t bother you though, this is an excellent read.(less)
No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in l...more"The circus arrives without warning.
No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not."
I don't know how many times I've read this paragraph recently. It's fair to say that this book has had more than your average amount of buzz. Lots more. This amount of buzz would normally put me off reading a book because I worry that it won't live up to my expectations. For some reason though, the buzz didn't put me off this book at all; it just made me want to read it even more. So much so that I pre-ordered the hardback - which is something I never do!
The Night Circus tells the story of Celia and Marco, two magicians who are trained from a young age to ultimately take part in a challenge where there can only be one winner. The stage for this challenge is a mysterious travelling circus that only opens at night and disappears as quickly as it arrived. Alongside this story we meet Bailey who, whilst playing out with his sister and her friend, is dared to break into the Night Circus. While there though, he meets a girl with red hair, dressed all in white, who helps him to get out of the circus when he's lost. She gives him her glove to take back with him - to prove to his sister that he did break in. 15 years later, he finds that the circus is back in town and Bailey can't resist returning to see whether the girl is still there...
As I said, I'd heard a lot about this book before it was released and the plot intrigued me. I love anything magical and this is magical realism at its most creative. The circus is mysterious and intriguing and I was fascinated by all of the different aspects of it, especially by the way the performers were so magical that they had to attempt to hide this from the audience by trying to make their acts seem like manipulation and sleight of hand.
There are many characters and the plot jumps around between years - moving from 1873 to the years prior to 1902, to 1902 when we read Bailey's story, to the present day when the story is written as though you are experiencing the circus yourself. The jumping around and trying to keep track of all of the characters did cause me some problems at first and I had to keep checking which year I was in, but as I got further into the book this became much easier and I settled into it. The characters each had their own stories, although none of them delve as deep as I would normally like, and I found them fascinating, especially the relationship between Celia and Marco, which develops slowly but is still interesting.
The plot itself isn't the fastest and there are some slow parts. I didn't mind this though, as this is more character driven than plot driven. It's also very visual - the author uses a lot of description, especially in the present day chapters, but it works perfectly for this book as it really is something that you need to be able to imagine to truly appreciate it. I can see how this, coupled with the slow plot, could put some people off, but I loved it. The writing is beautiful, almost lyrical, and I wanted to savour it and so I was happy to take my time.
The plot does pick up pace towards the end and the last few chapters are brilliant. I can't say anything really for fear of spoiling it, but I will say that there were things I wasn't expecting and that I liked how the author brought all of the characters together, especially as many of the characters seem peripheral but are brought closer and closer together throughout the book as we understand how their relationships intertwine.
All in all, despite a couple of flaws, this was an awesome book and one I will definitely read again. I can understand why many won't like it, however it definitely worked for me. (less)
I can see why people love it. The story just sucked me in and I devoured it in two sittings. I really liked Cassia and I cared about her right from th...moreI can see why people love it. The story just sucked me in and I devoured it in two sittings. I really liked Cassia and I cared about her right from the off. I think that the connection with her really pulled me through the book, because I was interested in the decisions she made and the ways in which those decisions affected her life – especially as this was in a society where decisions are often made for the inhabitants.
Dystopia is one of my favourite genres. I love the comparisons to our society and I like to speculate whether the society in the book is actually that fair removed from our own or is that far outside of the realm of possibility. I also like to wonder at the different aspects of the society and whether or not they would be beneficial to our own. Dystopic societies are generally spawned from an over-exaggerated attempt to create a Utopia and so there are usually at least a couple of elements that would be great to have as part of a society. In the case of this book, I do love that they have managed to pretty much eradicate diseases. As someone whose family has been touched a number of times by cancer and other diseases, this really appeals to me. Would I want to have a set date to die though? I’m not sure. I can see the benefits, but I don’t know if I’d ever be ready! I also kind of like the idea of being sorted into the job that suits your skills, although it would take away ambition and dreams. Still, it would be nice to just automatically fall into a job that you’re good at!
The relationships in the book fascinated me. I wanted to hate Cassia when she was falling in love with Ky, but I just couldn’t. I wanted to hate Ky, as I really liked Xander, but I couldn’t do that either. Damn these nice people!! Surely in love triangles someone is supposed to be the bad guy?! The thing is, with this particular triangle, it’s really hard to resist sympathising with both Cassia and Ky. As much as I liked Xander, I could see how it must have been hard for Cassia to come to terms with being matched with her best friend – even though at first glance it would seem like the perfect match, it must have been hard for her to consider him as anything but a friend.
The writing was good, better than many YA books I’ve read. The pace was steady, with some faster parts and some slower, but it flowed well. The construction of the Society was creative and thought-provoking and the relationships were believable. I can’t wait to read the second book!(less)