Sunday, April 15, 2012

CBRIV: Book#4: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Pinky McLadybits

Endless descriptions of a circus so lovely and magical that you will long to visit it. A challenge of two players, chosen as children, neither of them fully comprehending the scope of their game or the rules they must abide by. An expansive group of involved people, both on the edges and further out, most unaware of anything happening within the circus that they exist within or follow obsessively. A love that should not be, that is doomed from the start. An ordinary man that is destined for extraordinary things.

These are the intriguing elements of The Night Circus. They are the elements that pull you in with promise and then continue to disappoint and stretch out into long swaths of nothingness as you wait for something to occur.

The very characters we are supposed to invest our feelings and hopes in are not those that I wanted to know more about.

Or, more precisely, the characters locked in the game, Marco and Celia, are interesting to us at the start. Then the lack of answers and the purposeful lack of information start to grate on your nerves. I wanted to know more about what Marco and Celia were doing, though I understood the need to keep it shrouded somewhat. I did not enjoy it being spooled out for such a large part of the novel. It made everything tedious and every shift of perspective made me roll my eyes and utter curses under my breath.

The characters on the fringe that are introduced start to make you angry because it takes such a long time for the different players to make their roles known. You're not sure why this contortionist is important or why this clockmaker should be of great import. The novel swirls around the different characters and as soon as you can begin to grasp any part of someone's intent or purpose, Morgenstern shifts to someone else or an entirely different timeline of the circus and the game. I'm sure that this was her purpose and she accomplished what she set out to, but it lessened my enjoyment of the book immensely. 

The descriptions of the circus are such that you long for someone to bring it to life in some tangible form that you can experience with at least two of your senses. I won't be at all surprised if this novel somehow becomes a movie and I would see it if only for the circus portions. I'd probably also enjoy the shortening of some of the more tedious portions of the book. 

Perhaps someone else will enjoy the book's rich descriptions of illusions, the circus, and surroundings and not think twice about the lack of much characterization. However, I am not that person. Reading this book was like forcing myself to exercise. That is to say, less than enjoyable but something I am pushed to do. Morgenstern has talent and I can only hope that she learns to use it properly.

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