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The Night Circus
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Sci-fi & Fantasy Literature > "The Night Circus" Discussion

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message 1: by Kay Lotus, Red Queen (new)

Kay Lotus (ayokayo) | 249 comments Mod
This is the discussion thread for our book read of February, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Just finished! I'm not entirely sure how this works as I've never participated in a group read before and I don't want to accidentally give away spoilers. So I'm just going to say I loved it! This book was amazing and so beautifully written. I was confused at first with the time span thing but quickly adapted. It reminded me a little of the Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw.


Laurel | 50 comments I'm on page 150 and I'm really struggling to get into this book. I've skimmed ahead and scanned the ending and probably won't finish this one. Here are my thoughts:

I couldn't understand the motivations of the two 'mentors' who are basically abusing these children. We are never given any good hints into why this contest is important, no clues dropped that I can seize onto to make me want to continue reading. By page 150 I'm asking myself 'what's the point?'

Celia and Marco are interesting for their imagination at the circus, but their 'love' is not a gradual tumbling but a given conceded by the author so early in the book I knew it was only a matter of time before they got together. I appreciate the passion they share when together, but years go by (years!) in between meetings - meetings which seem to last only several hours at a time. Doesn't seem like a fiery passion from that perspective.

I can't get behind the idea no one in the world realizes that Celia is performing real magic when her tricks are spontaneous and over-the-top. The magic is simply too easy for all the characters with no attempt to explain how it works. I know that is not the point of the book, that it is telling a story of characters not explaining physics, but it still bothers me.

Of all the the supporting characters thus far, including several that have chapters devoted to them, only Thiessen the clock-maker interests me. The other characters seem flat and one-dimensional, only showing up to perform a specific function in the story not to enrich it.

I really dislike it when the author interjects the reader into sporadic sections of the book. The 'you feel this' or 'you think that' is jarring and interrupts the flow of the book. Having vignettes of what the circus looks like to outsiders is a great idea, but this style of execution doesn't work for me.

Despite vivid descriptions, I find the pacing of the book long winded. I've enjoyed slow paced books in the past, but perhaps this one just isn't for me. Curious to hear what other readers think.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Laurel, I did struggle with this book at times as well. Especially at the beginning. What kept me going is the writing style. It reminded me of Ali Shaw's The Girl with Glass Feet and Neil Gaiman's Stardust. I loved the style with those books so that's what helped me keep going with this one until it picked up.

After awhile though, I stopped caring so much about Marco and Celia and cared more about a couple secondary characters. Mainly Baily which really surprised me because at first I really dreaded his parts. I think after awhile, when he was older, I was able to relate better to what he was going through with his family and that's why.


Laurel | 50 comments I've not read The Girl with Glass Feet but I did read Stardust. I think Stardust was easier because it's more fairy tale and is a shorter book. It reminded me of books written in the 1800's. The Night Circus just doesn't have a fairy tale feel nor, as another reviewer on Goodreads pointed out, does it use the time period to it's best advantage.

The Night Circus also reminded me of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell which I read and enjoyed immensely despite it being not only slow paced but very long.


message 6: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 09, 2013 08:28AM) (new)

Yeah, the time period threw me off because it had nothing to do with the plot at all. I once read that if your plot can be placed in any time period without it being affected then it shouldn't be a historical fiction.

Wow, now I'm starting over analyze Night Circus. It's been awhile since I've done that. I miss it.


Natalie I read this last year and while I loved the writing (hence me giving it 4 stars) the plot did not live up to the synopsis. If they ever did a movie I would see it just to see the circus. The story of the clockmaker was the most interesting part to me.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

The summary of the book was kind of misleading. I was under the impression that the love story would happen almost right away and I just kept waiting and waiting. Once it did happen it wasn't the way I thought it'd be.

I agree with you, Natalie, a movie version of this book would be awesome just for the circus! And I was surprised that I ended up caring more about the secondary characters than the main characters.


Natalie My main issue with the synopsis was the promise of a:

"fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians"

While I loved the circus, I guess I was actually expecting a duel or fight type thing and was disappointed. That did not happen at all.


message 10: by Birgit (last edited Feb 15, 2013 04:13AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Birgit (noirmuse) | 13 comments Just finished it and had a hard time deciding how many stars to give. On one hand I really enjoyed her writing style and the circus theme, but on the other hand I think in some aspects it was rather weak and wasted its potential, sadly. On the whole I liked it though and do not regret reading it. It also didn't leave me as unsatisfied as I thought it would from some point in the middle on.

That it didn't turn out to be an as action-packed story of a fierce competition as the synopsis suggested didn't actually bother me. My main issue actually is that in large parts it was just too superficial to me. Like the character development especially. For example Mr. A. H- (that "-" annoyed me to no end too .. so forcefully mysterious and it always threw me out of my reading rhythm when it appeared) in the beginning he seems so much colder and more selfish than it turns it he apparently is in the end; that just didn't convince me. And neither did the twist to Tsukiko's actual role in the end. Or Bailey's decision for that matter, come to think about it. Not to say I don't approve of the actual ideas to that, I just think it wasn't too well executed. I would have enjoyed more insights into what the actual motives and feelings of the characters were in a lot of places. Oh and while I liked the character of Herr Thiessen, the constant use of "Herr" bothered me (doesn't make for a good flow) especially as to me (as a german) there didn't seem anything inherently german about him apart from his name - and Friedrick isn't even a valid german name.

That said it was still a pleasant read and I can't help but think there might actually be a deeper (philosophical?) meaning to it all, that the whole story merely symbolizes something abstract. Not exactly sure what though as of yet, anyone else got thoughts on that?


message 11: by Prin (new) - rated it 3 stars

Prin Chuk (grizzlysnickers) | 5 comments Natalie wrote: "My main issue with the synopsis was the promise of a:

"fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians"

While I loved the circus, I guess I was actually expecting a duel or figh..."


I agree! That was the main reason I picked up the book was that I thought the magician's duel sounded interesting. Calling their competition a "duel" is a gross exaggeration.

The story started off strong but by the end of the book I found myself more interested in Bailey, Poppet, and Widget than Celia and Marco. I'm not big on love stories so I was pleasantly surprised when the novel was lacking in that department, although I'm sure others would be disappointed.

I've gone back and forth between wanting to give it 2 or 3 stars. The book had a lot of potential that was just simply squandered. I think the major faults have been addressed already such as the lack of character development and the pacing. While I'm sure the descriptions of the circus will translate well to the big screen, it felt overindulgent at times. The book could probably be cut back 150 pages by cutting out some of the imagery and nothing would be detracted from the story. I'm glad it was an easy read so it didn't take that much of my time to get through.


message 12: by Robyn (last edited Feb 17, 2013 10:55AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Robyn (LitlBirds) | 50 comments I am so surprised that more of you haven't loved this book. I read it a while ago and fell in love. Like Prin, I was pleased that this wasn't a love story which may have helped.

Someone was asking for the bigger meaning of the book. I think what helped there is if one considers the circus itself a character instead of a setting. The circus is larger than life, and although created by two characters who cause it to act a certain way, has a life of its own. The people it attracts, the way it forces entrants to suspend their disbelief so they can't even consider Celia's magic as fake... it isn't just a place where all of these things happen. If one considers it a character things seem to fit in place a little better. I don't know if that helps...

Also, as far as the time period is concerned: I think it was important that this did not take place in modern times. The characters would be too skeptical and no one "runs away with the circus" anymore. I do agree it could have been developed a little further, but it was important that the characters didn't seem out of place for sneaking away to become part of that lifestyle.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Rabbit wrote: " I think what helped there is if one considers the circus itself a character instead of a setting."

That's a really good way to look at it.

I think a big reason why I liked it so much was that I actually loved the descriptions of the circus and the black and white theme. It made me wish it was real so I could see it for myself. Also, I was pleasantly surprised that the romance wasn't such a big deal. I don't like books where love stories are central to the plot.


Laurel | 50 comments I find it ironic that some readers who commented on here were happy the romance wasn't a large part of the book since the book read of February was supposed to have something to do with romance in honor of Valentines Day. Just an observation. :)

As for myself, I was looking forward to a bit of romance and was disappointed in the lack-luster romance that was in the book.


Mandy (Mlwestropp) | 2 comments I loved this book, didn't want it to end. My only pathetic regret...it's not real. I would love to visit the "circus" loved the twins!


Robyn (LitlBirds) | 50 comments Laurel wrote: "I find it ironic that some readers who commented on here were happy the romance wasn't a large part of the book since the book read of February was supposed to have something to do with romance in ..."

That's why I voted for it :)


Mandy (Mlwestropp) | 2 comments Rabbit wrote: "Laurel wrote: "I find it ironic that some readers who commented on here were happy the romance wasn't a large part of the book since the book read of February was supposed to have something to do w..."

Maybe the plot, character dynamic and environment was preferable without a heavy romance? But whatever people are thinking, this book was totally "romantic". Anyway...that's my best guess...never know what folks are thinking.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Laurel wrote: "I find it ironic that some readers who commented on here were happy the romance wasn't a large part of the book since the book read of February was supposed to have something to do with romance in ..."

I figured it'd be good to try something different.


message 19: by Prin (new) - rated it 3 stars

Prin Chuk (grizzlysnickers) | 5 comments Laurel wrote: "I find it ironic that some readers who commented on here were happy the romance wasn't a large part of the book since the book read of February was supposed to have something to do with romance in ..."

I don't mind romance in books but like Manette, I like it better when they are not a main component of the story. The romance in this book was perfect for my taste. I actually voted for this book because I thought it sounded like an interesting read.


Natalie I also found it ironic that it won the romance theme vote since I knew it it didn't really have any romance. I'm curious if people who did vote for it voted specifically because they knew this.


Natalie I know no one has responded to my last question yet but I thought of something else. One of the common criticisms I saw above (including mine) is the weak plot particularily given the synopsis. Even if you don't like romances, do you think that a well developed romance (they do exist) would have added to the plot? The romance wouldn't have needed to be the central part but would have existed more than it did.


Robyn (LitlBirds) | 50 comments Natalie wrote: "I also found it ironic that it won the romance theme vote since I knew it it didn't really have any romance. I'm curious if people who did vote for it voted specifically because they knew this."

YES :) It was "romantic" and had a love story without being super mushy gushy.

Prin wrote: "Laurel wrote: "I find it ironic that some readers who commented on here were happy the romance wasn't a large part of the book since the book read of February was supposed to have something to do w..."

I'm not sure I totally understand your question. Are you asking whether a more developed romance theme would have helped carry the plot in a stronger way? I don't think so. I think the synopsis/advertising should have been changed to reflect more what the novel was about - the conflict of two young magicians caused by two older magicians. The plot, though, needed something other than a love story to carry it.


Natalie Sorry, I'm trying to explain my questions as best I can.

1. If you voted for this, did you vote for it knowing that the romance was not a major part and that's why you voted for it?

2. Do you think a more developed romance would have fleshed out the book more?

I'm curious particularly on the first question. I can understand that people may not like to read romance, but that was the theme this month and in my experience there are many great sci-fi/fantasy stories that include a romantic element without it taking over the story or making it "super mushy gushy". As a disclaimer I did nominate Cinder which was in second place for this month.


Laurel | 50 comments Since I wasn't impressed with most of the characterizations in this book, I don't know that this author would be able to write the subtleties needed for a good romance. However, a more developed romance might have helped - at least the characters would have interacted more often.


Robyn (LitlBirds) | 50 comments Laurel wrote: "Since I wasn't impressed with most of the characterizations in this book, I don't know that this author would be able to write the subtleties needed for a good romance. However, a more developed r..."


I agree about the characters interacting more. I pretended :) that they were destined to be together so their interactions weren't as important because that's just how it was meant to be. I have no idea if anything in the book implied that but it helped me along. I definitely loved this book, even with its imperfections. I'm realizing now that part of hte reason I loved it is because I go to make up some of it as I went a long. ha. Is that a fail for me? haha

Natalie, have you read Cinder? I haven't and am curious about it.


Natalie Rabbit wrote: Natalie, have you read Cinder? I haven't and am curious about it.

I have and I really enjoyed it. It's an interesting take on the Cinderella fairy tale. It does have a predictable twist and ends on a cliffhanger, but it's the start of a four book series which are connected and each features a different fairy tale. I really like the author as well, she used to write Sailor Moon fanfiction.


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