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GROUP READS > The Night Circus discussion

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message 1: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 15873 comments Mod
This is the discussion thread for the spring 2012 Group Read The Night Circus. Please post your comments here. This thread is not restricted to those choosing this book for task 20.10, feel free to join in the discussion. Warning- spoilers ahead!


message 2: by Sheila (new)

Sheila (sheilaj) | 2244 comments I was disappointed in this book. I had heard some good buzz about it prior to choosing this to read. I guess basically I don't like any book where children are USED to entertain or promote adults. I felt the same way about Hunger Games. There was some beautiful descriptive language within the book. One of my favorite descriptive scenes was the lighting of the fire to open the circus at midnight. I did like how it ended nicely though.


message 3: by Connie (new)

Connie G (connie_g) | 371 comments I loved The Night Circus. When I turned through the first few pages of illustrations and saw that I was looking through the top of a black and white striped tent and seeing the night stars, I suspected that this would be a special book. The descriptions of the magical circus involve all the senses, and transport the reader to a magical place. Except for a few instances when the author gets bogged down with description, the story line moved along and held my interest. I was sorry to leave this enchanted circus at the end of the book.


message 4: by SandyC (new)

SandyC (sandyc88) | 420 comments The Night Circus
★★★

I have mixed feelings about this book. I had VERY high expectations so I was a little let down. I agree that the writing was very good for the most part, and I agree with Sheila that using children for entertainment purposes is a turn-off. I didn't feel like any of the main characters were fully fleshed out and that we just scratched the surface. It would have been nice to have more interaction between Celia and Marco. The time shifts were distracting and I had to keep flipping back to remind myself when and where certain events happened. That said, I did enjoy the overall dreamlike quality of the novel, and the ending was satisfying.


message 5: by Rebecca NJ (last edited Mar 08, 2012 08:29AM) (new)

Rebecca NJ (njreader) | 1008 comments I enjoyed this book mainly because of the descriptions of the magic circus. This magical circus that “arrives without warning” and is only open at night was described so well that it would be a place I would definitely want to check out. Even tough I finished this a few days ago, I am still thinking about Mr. Thiessen’s clocks, the ice garden and the food! However, this book was more than just the circus, it was about this challenge created by two older magicians who w. It was about this challenge that was created between two older magicians. Various people were pulled into this challenge, including Celia and Marco who know, but yet don’t know, just how involved this challenge really is. By the time I finished the last sentence, I realized I wanted more. I want to see how the circus continues.

My one piece of advice to others who are going to read this book, pay close attention to the timeline headers at the beginning of the “chapter” – they are so important!


message 6: by Mrs.soule (last edited Mar 08, 2012 04:19PM) (new)

Mrs.soule (mrssoule) If this wasn't the only Group Read book I was interested in, I wouldn't have finished it. The Night Circus was painfully boring and slow. I kept waiting for something, anything to happen, but even when there was some kind of action, I was never sure what exactly had just happened or why it was a big deal. The courtship of snails is way more exciting and much faster paced (and I know for sure because I just read The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating). The beautiful descriptions are the only thing the book has going for it.


message 7: by Gayla (new)

Gayla Bassham (sophronisba) I liked this book, although I didn't think it was all that substantial. I was pulled in by the writing and the descriptions. I honestly didn't even notice how slowly the plot was unfolding until I looked at the GoodReads reviews; I really got caught up in the world.


message 8: by Katy (new)

Katy | 646 comments I agree with Gayla -- I was caught up in the world of the story and once I was maybe 30% of the way in, I wasn't noticing the slow pace. And closer to the end, I was pretty engaged, waiting to see how the challenge would play out and what would happen with the circus. My favorite characters were definitely Poppet and Widget - loved them!


message 9: by JC (new)

JC (jmnc) | 640 comments After reading the comments so far in the discussion, I don't feel so alone in thinking, "what's the big deal about this book?" Why is it so popular? I can only think, after finishing, that I must have missed something, mainly back story/intent/motivation of characters - these things didn't exist in the writing. I ended up giving it 3 stars, though 2.5 was really more like it. I dislike a plot that explains mysterious events with - Oh, it's magic! That just seems lazy to me. I did like the descriptions of the circus itself, and judging by the title, that's what the book was supposed to be about. All I can say is - HUH?


message 10: by Foxy Grandma (new)

Foxy Grandma (foxygrandma) | 997 comments I am usually let down when reading a highly reviewed book, but maybe this time my expectations weren't as high after reading comments from everyone here. And I am obviously in the minority so far on here. I liked the book!!! It evoked a time of magic of the circus as it was.....along with some real magic thrown in. It wasn't the best book of the year, but it is in the top 10 so far.


message 11: by Kara (new)

Kara (karaayako) Wow, I'm with you, Beth--I feel like such the exception here.

I thought this was a lovely, lovely book. The characters were distant yet very real, and the mixed up timeline actually added to the way the story was told rather than distracted and confused as I had initially expected. The illusions were particularly spectacular: they seemed emotionally charged, beautiful, and somehow realistic all at the same time. The second person vignettes interspersed in the story brought out the way the circus was supposed to feel. I loved that.

Despite being about magic, I thought the book grounded and relatable.

(I may be biased because magical realism is one of my favorite genres.)


message 12: by Bluemoon (new)

Bluemoon (bluemoon286) | 1839 comments I agree with most of the comments here. Both good and bad. I thought the writing was good but the story could have had more depth. I didn't feel that we got to know any of the characters other than superficilly. I also did not like the back and forth time line. I also would have liked some more info on why they did this challenge especially to the extreme. I did like that Celia and Marco get to be together and that the circus was to continue.


message 13: by Debra (last edited Apr 01, 2012 04:52AM) (new)

Debra (debra_t) My review: One of the best books I've read in a while. Yeah, it was a little slow in places (so much amazing detail that takes you away to other worlds), but otherwise the ride was magical, delightful, intriguing, and at times disconcerting. The suspense builds VERY slowly, so don't expect a fast-paced heart-pounding novel in the traditional sense. There is no actual duel between the 2 magicians, so the advertisements for this book hyped it inaccurately. The competition is much more subtle and sublime - and really isn't a competition so much as a collaboration. After all, they protagonists are in love with each other. They are supposed to fight until only one is left standing... will this happen to our star-crossed lovers, and will the amazing night circus die... read it and find out!


message 14: by Debra (new)

Debra (debra_t) I agree the time shifts were distracting. I also, had to flip back to see where we were in each of the 2 different time lines that were destined to eventual converge. I think it would have been hard to follow this if listening to an audio book.


message 15: by Debra (new)

Debra (debra_t) I understand some of the less positive comments about the book and if I picked it apart, I'd probably agree... there are definitely flaws. But if I find myself transported into another world when reading and don't want to leave that world, the to me that is a well-written story with characters I care about. I was able to overlook the flaws and just enjoy the ride, ya know what I mean?


message 16: by Marcia (new)

Marcia | 86 comments I really liked this book, but it may be because I listened to the audiobook. The Reader (Jim Dale) has a deep voice, with a slightly Scottish accent. I actually enjoyed the slow bits and descriptions of the circus because the way he spoke was almost hypnotizing. I was tickled every time he said "Thank You." I also had trouble with the time shifts, having to rewind a few times. But, I thought the book was very well-written with an engrossing story line.

Connie, thanks for mentioning there are pictures in the book! I may go to Barnes and Noble just to flip through it.


message 17: by Stacie (new)

Stacie (shorty_320) | 1382 comments Marcia wrote: "I really liked this book, but it may be because I listened to the audiobook. The Reader (Jim Dale) has a deep voice, with a slightly Scottish accent. I actually enjoyed the slow bits and descriptio..."

I really wish I had known that Jim Dale narrated the audiobook! If I had I would've tried to get a copy to listen to; I have love, love, loved every audiobook of his that I have listened to!

As for the story, I feel that there are bits of everyone's thoughts that I can second. I love the descriptiveness of the story, but the jumping around was difficult to handle. I wish we had learned more about the challenge. I understand that the reader is supposed to discover along with the characters, but I feel that there could've been more story there. Perhaps if we had been privy to more of Tsuikiko's challenge, the reader could've understood more.


message 18: by Meera (new)

Meera | 127 comments I absolutely loved this book. This is my favorite book I've read so far this year. I loved the language, the slow pace, the imagery and the description of the circus, the main and the minor characters... I did listen to this as an audio book but I know others who also enjoyed the book version as well. This definitely transported me into another world that I wasn't in any rush to leave.


message 19: by Joy Marie (new)

Joy Marie | 140 comments I thought the descriptions of the circus in this book were wonderful! I felt like I was actually in the circus looking though all the tents. I found it very enchanting. With that said, I almost feel the author spent too much time describing the circus and not enough time developing the plot. I am glad that I had this as an audio book because it would have been very slow reading if I had a print copy.


message 20: by Elizabeth (NC) (new)

Elizabeth (NC) | 185 comments I loved this book--probably the best I've read this year. I also thought the pace was slow--but I enjoyed that. I felt like I was pulled into the circus and was in another time--kind of like when Bailey first sneaks in as a kid and it seems like nothing is moving. I felt like the whole book was magical and I didn't want it to end.


message 21: by Leah (new)

Leah | 46 comments I agree that the pace of the book was definitely slow, but if you accepted that aspect as part of the dream-like writing of the novel, it was worth it. I felt like the setting wouldn't have had the same ambience if there was action and specific purpose in every scene. I liked the little one-off scenes that had no purpose other than to illustrate what the circus was like. For me, these scenes made me feel like the circus was more real.

I might be biased too though as I just read a few books that were heavy on the action, so this book was a good change :)


message 22: by Jean (new)

Jean | 123 comments I enjoyed this book. I listened to the audio and found it very entertaining. The plot seemed secondary to the descriptions of the circus and it moved quite slowly. But it was a wonderful treat to have such vivid images of all the sights, sounds and smells of the circus while doing my housework.


message 23: by Debra (new)

Debra (debra_t) I agree that the slower pace and thorough descriptions of each unique circus tent was essential to this tale. I wanted to go to that circus. It was all dream-like and enticing.


message 24: by Jennifer N. (new)

Jennifer N. | 423 comments I absolutely loved this book. I have already recommended it to several of my friends. I hope that they enjoy it as much as I did.


message 25: by Karen Michele (new)

Karen Michele Burns (klibrary) | 1688 comments I enjoyed The Night Circus, but I think my expectations were built up a bit too high as others have mentioned. Here is my review:

The imagery in this book is enticing. I wish I could walk into The Night Circus and engage my senses in its delights. For me, that was the highlight of the book. I listened to Jim Dale read and was in love with the atmosphere. I wasn't as drawn in by the plot. The book's major plot of the contest between the two magicians struck me as quite familiar and I realized it was similar to the action in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, another book in which two magicians are up against each other. I felt that the twist about their contest was fairly obvious and I already knew where the plot was heading when it was revealed. I still enjoyed the book a lot, but I felt that the expectations I had were too high and I was perhaps let down because of that.


message 26: by Almeta (last edited Apr 12, 2012 08:01AM) (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) Connie wrote: "I loved The Night Circus. When I turned through the first few pages of illustrations and saw that I was looking through the top of a black and white striped tent and seeing the nigh..."

Connie,

I can't believe you figured this out. I noticed the difference in the night sky drawings, and never figured out why. I looked at them each time, thinking that I would see some sort of change in them, perhaps as a clue. It did not occur to me that I was viewing the sky through a tent ceiling in the alternate picture. I feel so dense!

In retrospect, I wonder if the picture marked the switch from current world to circus world in the chapters? I don't have the book anymore in order to check that out.


message 27: by Almeta (last edited Apr 12, 2012 12:46PM) (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) Sandy wrote: "The time shifts were distracting and I had to keep flipping back to remind myself when and where certain events happened. ..."


I am not a very good observer of the timelines at the beginning of chapters. Shame on me!!!

It took me a while to figure out that I should be paying better attention to the dates, By the time I actually did, every chapter started in the same October 31st/November 1st time frame!

So although my realization of the time switches came late, and distracted me for a while, I still was able to follow the idea of the book, without knowing that chapter time was not linear.

Rebecca wrote: "My one piece of advice to others who are going to read this book, pay close attention to the timeline headers at the beginning of the “chapter” – they are so important! ..."

Yep, what Rebecca said!☻


message 28: by Almeta (last edited Apr 13, 2012 03:36PM) (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) Stacie wrote: "I wish we had learned more about the challenge. I understand that the reader is supposed to discover along with the characters, but I feel that there could've been more story there. Perhaps if we had been privy to more of Tsuikiko's challenge, the reader could've understood more...."

I also would have liked to understand more about the challenge. I got that it was a fight to the death of one, or really more accurately until one just wore out. It was briefly touched upon that two philosophies were at odds, and I wanted that explained further. So more dialog between the two factions would have been good, whether it was with the father Hector and the man-in-gray Alexander, or even with Marco and Celia discussing their technique.

(view spoiler)


message 29: by Debra (new)

Debra (debra_t) The timelines threw me off at first, and I kept flipping back and forth to get them set in my mind. A bit distracting, but I got the hang of it after awhile. Definitely need to pay attention to that when reading.


message 30: by Almeta (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) Several people have mentioned food, but it made me ponder what food was at the circus. I honestly can't think of any in particular.

BUT if you are talking about the Midnight Dinners.Who was preparing all of these sumptuous meals? Who could afford such extravagance? See there? I just drooled all over myself and gained ten pounds just thinking about it!


message 31: by Debra (new)

Debra (debra_t) Funny what you said, Almeta, about the extravagant meals. I wondered the same thing. Those folks must have been loaded. Same with the investigators in The Alienist, which I just finished reading. How did those folk afford all those sumptuous meals - and they were dining out ALL the time at expensive places!


message 32: by Almeta (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) Beth NC wrote: "I am usually let down when reading a highly reviewed book, but maybe this time my expectations weren't as high after reading comments from everyone here. And I am obviously in the minority so far on here. I liked the book!!! ..."

I was first made aware of The Night Circus through another book I had borrowed from the library. Within its pages was the "library receipt" which was used as a bookmark by the previous reader. In addition to the current book this anonymous reader had checked out The Night Circus. So just “for grins” I decided to put it on my TBR shelf.

I've noticed its popularity, but I promptly forgot about it. Had it not come up as a Group Read, I don't know when I would have gotten around to it.

It thoroughly enjoyed this book.

I think I like this method of "recommendation"!


message 33: by Almeta (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) Debra wrote: "After all, they protagonists are in love with each other. They are supposed to fight until only one is left standing."

I am not much of a romantic. (view spoiler)

This was a fantasy, Almeta, get over it!

(view spoiler)


message 34: by Almeta (last edited Apr 12, 2012 06:24PM) (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) Despite my comments I really loved this book. I wished for fuller character development, sought explanations of how things worked, required justification for the very existence of such a challenge, yearned for a romantic happy ending. In other words, I wanted more of all of it.

Here's my review: "The Barnum & Bailey Circus may present The Greatest Show on EarthBailey Alden Clarke presents The Greatest Show of Imagination..... (with some help from Erin Morgenstern.)

This is a circus I definitely want to visit, but since it won't be coming to my town anytime soon, I think that I will have to rely on Erin Morgenstern to transport me there.

The beauty of this book is in the imagery that carries me to other realities. Not other vast worlds, but worlds in miniature that are so strikingly created. Each circus tent is a new experience. Some are presented as the characters move through the story. In other cases, I am looked directly in the eye and asked to imagine my experience of what is surrounding me.

The carnival sideshows I have known are present, but not as a tawdry display, rather improved as a realm of wonder; which is why I wanted to go to the circus in the first place."


message 35: by Debra (new)

Debra (debra_t) Great review, Almeta... as always!


message 36: by Almeta (last edited Apr 12, 2012 06:26PM) (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) Debra wrote: "Great review, Almeta... as always!"

Thanks! ☺


message 37: by Almeta (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) Do you think Celia and Marco will still have to concentrate on keeping the circus balanced, or can Bailey, with training, somehow do it all by himself? Do you think Poppet and Widget will always remain at the circus? Are they also required for its survival?


message 38: by Bea (last edited Apr 26, 2012 04:18AM) (new)

Bea | 3925 comments I listened to the audiobook and must admit that I feel I have missed some of the nuances by not viewing the illustrations. I liked the circus also and would have liked to visit it myself. I was upset as the real challenge was revealed - how to survive the challenge together. The back story of the creators of the challenge and circus was too disjointed and felt more like an occasional glimpse behind the curtain. I was left with many questions about those people. The circus participants were more real to me and more interesting as characters. I really liked this story but will probably pick up the book and re-read it to see if I get a different view with the illustrations in front of me.

Oh, also, any audiobook for me is listened to as I do something else. Not recommeneded while listening to this book due to the different timeline stories - which can get confusing.


message 39: by mstan (new)

mstan | 876 comments I thought this started off quite well, but at the end of the book, the story unravelled, and the magic dissipated. I didn't quite believe in the romance between Marco and Celia, and thought the character of Bailey quite poorly drawn (gaping fan/ harbours dreams of running away - a caricature, almost).


message 40: by Cathy (new)

Cathy Galloway | 704 comments I thought this book was wonderful! The slow pace contributed to the magical dream-like quality of the story. I liked the subtlety of the emotions gradually building to the finale. While the time shifts were confusing at first, I had no problem with flipping back a few pages if I needed to see the transition into the new chapter.


message 41: by Almeta (new)

Almeta (menfrommarrs) Bea wrote: "I listened to the audiobook and must admit that I feel I have missed some of the nuances by not viewing the illustrations...."

Except for the switch from night sky to night sky viewed through a circus top tent, I don't think there were any illustrations in my copy of the book.


message 42: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 218 comments LOVED IT!! Magical Mystery Tour meets Cirque de Soleil! And a nice, non-mushy romance thrown in as well. I haven't read anything so 'different' in such a long time. The whole book was mystically enchanting. I was hooked from the very first page of the prologue; just wanted to walk into the pages of the book and be in this circus. If there really were A Night Circus, I would surely be one of the reveurs! I just couldn't believe the splendor of the imagery. If someone could do it right this would be an incredible movie - one I'd have to own to watch again and again. This book will stay with me for a long, long time!


message 43: by Sam (new)

Sam | 175 comments I finished The Night Circus this morning & having heard so many wonderful things about the book I was initially disappointed as it started off quite slowly.
However once the 'game' really got going I was totally immersed in the circus & lost in the author's beautiful descriptions.
I agree with Suzanne's comments about it making an incredible movie the imagery would be magnificent.


message 44: by BZMoney (new)

BZMoney | 160 comments I agree with everything Suzanne said!! I loved The Night Circus. It was magical. I want this circus to come to my town!


Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 2975 comments I just started this book today. I am only a few chapters in and only met Ceila, Hector and Alexander.


message 46: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth | 18 comments Meera wrote: "I absolutely loved this book. This is my favorite book I've read so far this year. I loved the language, the slow pace, the imagery and the description of the circus, the main and the minor charact..."

Hi Meera! I have to agree with you there, best book so far this year!


message 47: by Kayleigh (new)

Kayleigh Creates (kayleigh_creates) | 315 comments I really wanted to love this book when I first heard about it. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy this book. The descriptions were detailed and beautiful. However, the pace of the novel was just to slow for me to really get into. I guess I just expected more after all of the hype that I read.


Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 2975 comments I think the pacing is pretty good. I am Part 2 and six chapters in.


message 49: by Tracy (new)

Tracy | 2 comments I loved how the book started all magical and the writing was amazing. The illustrations were mystical and very detailed which enhanced the writing. However the pace was slow and at times there were just so many characters it made it hard to follow midway through. Then the book took a turn and I was drawn back into the circus and it piqued my interest again.


Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 2975 comments I don't have any problems with the pacing. I am very engrossed into the story. I am 2/3 through the book. I love all the characters.


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