Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Guest Book Review Night Circus

2) The Night Circus:

This was a better read than Team Human... probably because it showed more effort. The author obviously loves both circuses and the act of writing; the descriptions of the circus fall into that rare category of compelling and not overdone, and I came out of it craving chocolate-drizzled popcorn. The plot itself is interesting, as it covers a somewhat-fantastic wager between two larger-than-human men who use the circus as the chessboard and two young people as the playing pieces. There is the mandatory starcrossed-lovers angle, but as the book jumps back and forth over decades, I was okay with what turned out to be a lengthy-in-real-time romance. I appreciated that the book was set approximately 150-110 years ago, as that formed my perspective of the circus and the characters. I don't think it would work at all if set more recently.
I also liked the magical elements, although the author could have contrasted the two schools of though more clearly. Basically, one man wagered on natural talent and the other believed that anyone can reach a high level of skill; the former teaches his daughter through tough love and a disdain for traditional styles, while the latter picks an orphan boy and makes him read all the lore he can find. Clear enough, but I didn't actually see many differences in how the boy and girl practiced magic. So, without giving away the details of the contest, I would have to say I don't think either should have won, if winning was meant to prove either mentor's theory correct.
The ending is set in the present, and it made me afraid that the entire book was a lengthy advertisement for a real circus (the narrator is given a business card with the email address for the owner of the circus). I'm sure if one starts up based on the book's success, it would be fun to go to, but there's no way it could measure up to the fictional one. If nothing else, most of the non-magical stunts and rooms are illegal (too likely that a customer would die/be injured).

By Rebecca Hoyt

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