Friday, March 16, 2012

It's About a Circus?

I recently read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. While at a swim meet, I had another parent see that I was reading it and ask what is was about. I had a hard time describing it, actually. I read it for book club with my co-workers and when we met to discuss it, I told them of this interaction. I said I kinda felt like this book defied definition. Although I'd heard it described as a romance a la Twilight, I don't think it fits in that category. It involves lot of magic but it's not really Harry Potter...So a few of my co-workers threw out their thoughts and I felt that one in particular described the book pretty well...a modern day fairy tale. So that's what I'm going with. =)

The Night Circus is primarily, in my opinion, an argument between two schools of thought fought on a world stage with players who haven't the slightest idea of the consequences of their actions (at least initially). Two men, one a teacher and the other once his student, have differing ideas on how best to teach magic and whether or not innate ability matters. They have been "challenging" each other for decades and a particular challenge is the focus of this story. 

The magician, Prospero, issues a new challenge to his old tutor, the "man in the grey suit". Prospero is using his six-year old daughter as his pawn. The man in the grey suit chooses a student/opponent, in a much more detached manner. and thus the players are in place. 

As the years pass and the "students" are groomed for their challenge, a stage is set. The place where this challenge will be played out will be in a circus...but not just any circus. A circus that defies the definition of circus; a circus that shows up out of nowhere, leaves while no one is watching and is only open at night.

Not part of the teachers' plans is for the opponents to meet and fall in love. And therein lies the flaw that will bring down the house of cards. Because neither party is willing to essentially remove the other from the playing field. So who wins in the end?

As I said, I really feel like this book defies description. And although I enjoyed it, I felt that the author could have done some things to draw the reader in a bit more. The book has a wide array of interestingly eccentric characters but because there are so many, we never really get to know any of them. I would have liked to know more about Prospero and the man in the grey suit. And I really would have liked enjoyed a more in-depth detailing of the relationship between Celia and Marco. Also, I felt Ms. Morgenstern's detailing of the circus itself as well as the other locations visited could have been done better. She took great pains to set up this whimsical world yet I never really felt a part of it.

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I just felt like it could have been so much more.

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Now you know what I think...what are your thoughts??