1. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Night Circus

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by chicagoliz, Mar 5, 2013.

    Has anyone else read this book? I just finished it for my book club, and I have to say I am baffled. I feel like I understand nothing. I don't understand how this book was published. I don't understand how an editor *edited* it (allegedly). I don't understand how an agent thought it either should be published or was any good. It is written almost entirely in passive voice, it "tells" rather than "shows" throughout, has almost NO plot, and has ZERO character development. I just don't get it -- I don't understand how anyone thought it was good or how it got any critical acclaim or how it became a best-seller.

    It has some good physical descriptions. But it then repeats those descriptions. Many times. Sometimes by using the exact same phrases. It goes on and on and on for pages about a dress that changes colors. Slightly interesting for a sentence, but for a dozen pages -- with no greater meaning, not so much.

    Who knew you could get away with writing 400 pages of physical description of a black and white themed circus, fabrics, clothes, and dinner parties, and then intersperse about 100 pages of a very vague semblance of an alleged plot and some brief character introductions?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    I read it. I liked it to a point, I just wasn't sure the ending was very satisfying.

    I thought the circus was quite imaginative.
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree it was imaginative. I just don't feel the need for hundreds of pages describing it. I got it the first time.

    I also agree the ending was unsatisfying. I never really got the whole alleged "competition."

    It just seemed to violate so many of the "writing rules" -- and not in a way where the violation "worked." I don't understand the book's success -- I mean, unlike some of the other books discussed here, such as the current discussion on Twilight and FSOG, at least those had some story-telling elements that people liked, and didn't require much thinking to enjoy. Of course, this book doesn't have quite the same level of commercial success as those others, but it's still done quite well. And I just don't get it.
     
  4. richardclayton53
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    I started this book, but for one reason or another just couldnt get into it!! Normally i hate putting a book aside after i have started one, but made an exception with this. But i cant put my finger on what i didnt like, maybe it was just the slow and vague approach.

    Meh, i might pick it up again soon and give it another go...
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've seen that same experience expressed on goodreads and on amazon. It seems to be very much one of those love it or hate it books. People who loved it really loved it. But people who didn't really just didn't like it at all. My book club liked it, but even after listening to the discussion, I still do not. I don't especially enjoy magic and fantasy, but even aside from that, I just felt that there was no real storytelling in the book and I really didn't care about any of the characters.
     
  6. BlackCatMagick
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    BlackCatMagick Member

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    I really liked it, mostly for the imaginative story world. I thought the circus was brilliant, and that's what made the story.

    The thing that bummed me out was the weak character development. I didn't connect with the characters at all, except for maybe Poppet and Widget. They were pretty cute with their kittens. :3 I really wanted to like Celia, but I just couldn't get invested in her enough.

    I agree, it gets a little tedious in some places. But I thought it was worth reading.
     
  7. Winged-Walls
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    I'm only about halfway through at the moment, but from what I've read I really like it. I can see how it would be a love-it-or-hate-it book, though. Personally I find the style poetic and intriguing; I normally get bored by plots in which little happens, but the atmosphere there is so eerie that I found myself sucked in completely. Then again, it had me at the first page; the 2nd person POV intervals at the circus were brilliant.
     
  8. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I thought Poppet and Widget were the most interesting characters, but that was not a high threshold to cross at all. They perhaps had the most potential. The other characters were so poorly developed that I didn't really feel anything for them -- no real like or dislike.

    I'm just amazed that hundreds of pages of repetitive description of the circus does it for people. I don't think I'll ever get it. I've never been someone who can sit back and really admire and appreciate and revel in prose. I suppose I just want the language to convey more information - either about a story or about a character. And I like to really get to know that character deeply. It's one of my common personal gripes that many stories give us just a shallow, surface-level treatment of the characters. When there's a complicated, intriguing plot, I'm okay with not getting to know the characters as well. Again, since here there was neither, I felt kind of cheated. The author probably could have given us the magical circus feeling in a short story.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    I liked the dueling illusions aspect of the different tent descriptions.
     
  10. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I guess after a few times, that was enough for me. :)
     

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