I am very glad I still had The Sun is Also a Star in my mind when the year started. It would have been rather sad to start the year with a disappointing book. Sadly, that is the category The Night Circus occupies in my mind.
Now, before I rant about all the things that were wrong with it (it will be a rather long rant) I shall make it plain that it wasn't all bad. Had that been the case I would never have manged to finish the book (please bare in mind I skimmed a lot of it).
The twins are rather interesting, half of the time at least. Bailey has one scene I rather enjoyed reading (it involves the fortune teller for those who have read or are yet to read), the romance although short and very unrealistic had some sweet spots...
Issue One: I like a books with good and interesting plots that captivate from beginning to end. The world in which such plot is set and the imagery of that world and of the things around it should complement the story but never take over. The opposite is true in The Night Circus. The imagery of the circus is more important to the writer than the plot. You spend at least 80% of the book (in my humble opinion) reading about the circus, its construction, its tents and shows and magical places and only a mere 20% of it actually reading a story worthy of keeping to memory. Imagery substitutes rather than complements the plot!
I suppose that if you don't mind a very slow story, made out of way too many descriptions, you will like the book more than I did.
Issue Two: If you read the book description this is what you will get: "The circus arrives without warning... But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Amidst the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon stumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance."
Sounds exciting right? I though so! Problem is, none of those statements are accurate. The book is better described like so:
"The circus arrives without warning (unless you are friends with the clock maker)...But behind the scenes a long monotonous race that gets rather tiring as the years go by takes place. Two young magicians who have no idea what game they are playing, what this slow race is about or who the other is learn to use some magic and when the circus is finally up (hundreds of pages in)...nothing changes! They are trained from childhood by 'father like' figures that are rather psychotic and unpleasant to play a game that makes no sence whatsoever. The magicians themselves will tell you that through out the book more times than you can count. Unbeknownst to them, the ones who set the game in motion believe only only competitor can be left standing, that being said, that are many ways to change that. Amidst the high stakes Celia and Marco wake up one day and decide that even though they have never met they will fall in love. It really doesn't matter that he is seeing someone else almost the whole time. Their love story is short, unrealistic and might make you doubt your sanity."
Issue Three: The intertwining timeline in the book is very disturbing. It at times through time as well as through the characters, some that have no special place in the book. Consequently the main characters are not well developed at all. At the end of the book you know as little about them as you knew in the beginning. The book was 512 pages long and I feel like I've read a badly written short story.
There are other minor issues here and there. Like the magic! Its sooo obvious and on your face! it bored me to death...
In the end, I cannot give it more than 2.5 stars. The good spots and the rather beautiful imagery do not save the book. The few good plot lines are far too few in between and the imagery monopolizes almost every page of the book. I both feel like I've read a very short book due to its lack of character building and story line, and a long boring book due to its excessive attention to 'world building'.