Giselle's Reviews > The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
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's review
Jun 18, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: arc, own

The Night Circus is like cake. Cake without frosting. Sure, cake is good, some people will even prefer dry, plain cake all by itself, but others, such as myself, need the sugary sweetness of frosting. Some may prefer the milder whip frosting. Or maybe even caramel or candy to put the final touches on our taste buds. Either way, plain cake, no matter how moist, is not for everyone.

Yes, the writing is beautiful. Beyond beautiful. It's magnificent and breathtaking; the detailed scenery, the magic, the multitude of formidable descriptions of each tent inside this circus is all absolutely stunning. Furthermore, the approach taken to tell the story is excellent. We've got the journey in past and present, walking alongside the characters their whole lives, in addition, we get our very own walk inside this resplendent circus which adds a truly delightful touch to the story. Unfortunately, this is the only aspect of the book I enjoyed: The writing.

While I appreciate more literary books, -- a lot of my favorites are slow paced, extremely well-read books that managed to not only tell me a story, but actually make me live it -- The Night Circus' strongly lethargic plot fails to let it radiate life within its beauty. Filling a book with pizzazz is simply not enough for me. I need a compelling storyline, I need fabulous characters. This is where I was left highly underwhelmed. The "competition" we constantly hear of is kept very vague, not really letting us in which only left me confused as to the point of the plot, not to mention let down by the absence of its "fierceness" that the blurb promises. Knowing that sometimes all I need is a little patience to eventually get blown away, I kept my hopes up and didn't give up. I was slightly more satisfied at the end, very slightly, though I was expecting much more out of this highly praised novel. If you want to read a book to simply enjoy its outward extravagance, I can see you loving it. However, expect over 500 pages of nothing more.

Strong characters can make a world of difference in books such as this. Characters I would have grown to love, to adore. Characters that would have made an impression on me emotionally. A deep investment in such characters could have made this an instant favorite. Instead what I got were colorless characters with weak personalities that I could not have been less concerned about. Maybe I was distracted by the glamor (catch-22?), maybe it was all the back and forth; whatever the reason, these characters remained characters to me. I never got to know them. I never got to feel their presence, their soul, inside this tale. Where it should have been filled with passion and devotion, sometimes misery, this was only communicated with sentences, not with the actual emotions I was expected to garner. The only character I was mildly interested in was Bailey and his parts, though not insignificant, are far and few.

Your enjoyment of this book will seriously depend on what you're looking for. It's an exquisitely well-written book full of riches and gorgeous descriptions. If this is enough to lure you in and enchant you - I assure you you will be blown away. If an engaging plot and great characterization are also essential for you to have a great reading experience, you won't find it here. Ultimately, you'll either love it, or you won't.

Me, I need my frosting.

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Reading Progress

June 18, 2012 – Shelved
July 1, 2012 – Started Reading
July 1, 2012 – Shelved as: arc
July 1, 2012 – Shelved as: own
July 2, 2012 –
page 159
31.05% "Let's just say so far I'm not getting the hype for this one."
July 4, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-34)

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message 34: by Micheline (new) - added it

Micheline Awesome. Entered, thanks Giselle :D

Melanie Can't wait to hear what you think of this one. I have wanted to read it since I first saw it a few months ago so I definitely want to read it in the near future.

Giselle I've been wanting to read it since last year!! I finally got it for the paperback release! You can enter the giveaway on my blog to win :)

message 31: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Loved this book! :)

message 30: by Bonnie (new) - added it

Bonnie Yeah, I didn't get it either... It was dragging for me! I didn't make it very far.

message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

awwi loved this book. Sorry you didn't though. Its become so popular and I see why. of course no book is for everyone though.

Giselle Like I said, I need more than pretty words.

message 27: by Jess (new) - added it

Jess Very well-written review! It is on my to-read list, but then again, I've been known to enjoy plain cake from time to time. ;-)

Nereyda (Nick & Nereyda's Infinite Booklist) Your review cracks me up! now I want some good cake. this one never caught my attention...

message 25: by Giselle (last edited Jul 04, 2012 08:38PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Giselle I rather eat plain frosting - straight from the jar! :D

Thanks ladies!

Masako Lin Hahahahha I guess I like plain cake! :) But I echo your thoughts exactly even though I enjoyed the Night Circus a lot, maybe cause I was swayed by the beautiful writing HAHAHHA

Giselle It's definitely a love/hate type. I was just so bored with the plot. Two magicians combating each other by making bigger and prettier things? *yawn* And... do I hear this is being compared to HP? What is THAT?

Masako Lin Lol that is a strange comparison, I would never in a million years compare the night circus to HP! :O that's just really weird!

Giselle Yeah I just read that in someone else's review. O_o

Trudi Great review Giselle! and I agree wholeheartedly :D

Giselle Thanks Trudi :)

message 18: by Amy (new)

Amy OH... I like frosting too... I don't think I will enjoy this one... :/ too bad...

Giselle Yeah it's a very love or hate type of book.

message 16: by Bonnie (new) - added it

Bonnie I needed frosting too. :D

message 15: by Juhina (new)

Juhina I've read a couple of bad reviews which is why i've stayed away from it. now I'm sure i don't want to read it.

Giselle Yeah I do seem to be in the minority though so you never know. But then again all my friends who DNFed it didn't rate it so it can be a bit misleading if you just look at the ratings. It's a tedious plot with pretty descriptions. Depends what you're expecting I guess.

message 13: by Tien (new) - added it

Tien oh no, I like my frosting but seeing that I have this quirk about 'circus' books I may read it anyway LOL

Brooks Jones Yes, exactly--angel food cake. Good analogy.

Giselle Lol! Thanks ladies! Now I'm hungry again!

message 10: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy This description of the book was spot on for me. Needs more frosting... Even turn it into a series and develop each character separately. But all the jumping around left me want wanting not only frosting but one big flat layer of sheet cake. Not so many "layers".

Thea Totally agree! No lasting impact on me emotionally, the characters were so boring. It has potential...

Faith I agree! My goodness. I don't think that I've been this frustrated with a book for a long time.

Frances I would say the complete opposite, this was all frosting and no cake. Like a beautiful inventive cake, but then you go to eat it and it's just hollow icing. No heart, no love story and no connection with the characters except Poppy and Bailey. The descriptive parts and the atmosphere of the circus were great, but there was no point to it, nothing to sate your hunger for a story.

Yellowdreamer I agree with Frances, this cake was all frosting, all sugar and cream and pretty decoration on top, and nothing but a cardboard box hiding underneath. I marveled at the writer's decorating prowess and clenched my fists at how much I hated the story. So boring!

Lori Well said. I felt the same. Beautifully-written book but not enough 'meat' to hold my interest .

message 4: by Mari (new) - rated it 1 star

Mari No. Its like frosting without cake.

Carol Tensen I agree with Mari. No cake just fluff.

Victor Ditto with Mari and Carol. This is a better cake analogy from j.

Katie Cake without frosting. So true.

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