Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Reading Free-For-All: The Night Circus

Before I really begin:

No Top Ten Tuesday the last two weeks. I should have done them earlier and scheduled the posts but I didn't. So I suck there. I should be back up and functioning next week.

And now....

So, I finally read The Night Circus. My roommate has been pestering me for ages about it. I'd wanted to read it when it came out and just never got to it. I finally did.

Initially I only read it at work and then didn't read at all for a couple of weeks. I got about twenty pages in and then devoured the rest of it in two days.

I loved it. Erin Morgenstern is brilliant. The atmosphere, the ache, the story. It's amazing.

Ordinarily I am a big character reader. I love plot, but I can excuse a fairly bad plot in exchange for some really good characters. This means that, generally speaking, I tend to struggle a little with description heavy books. It's just the way of life. I admire description because I can't write it but it's not usually what I enjoy most from a book. The characters in The Night Circus are amazing, yes, but the book is only partially concerned with them.

A while back I read Maggie Stiefvater's review of The Night Circus and she strongly emphasized that the book was about a thing. A thing with people in it, yes, but a thing none the less. That thing is the circus. I don't know if that helped me because I was prepared or disconcerted me since I am ordinarily such a character reader. But it is the most accurate description of the book that I have seen.

The Night Circus is about the Le Cirque des Reves. This books covers an extended period of time and so much happens in it but every little action is eventually tied back to the circus. It's as beautifully and intricately woven together as something Marco himself would have put together. The relationships between the characters are beautiful but they, too, all come back down to the circus.

That is not to say that the characters are nothing short of amazing. It would have been so easy to make them shallow character traits rather than actual full-bodied characters but Morgenstern doesn't take the easy way out. Instead of letting the whole novel ride on her vivid description she fleshes the whole thing out. Her characters are charming and mysterious and clever. There are the insiders, the outsiders, the dreamers, the lovers, the scorned. Everything is covered and it should be too much, too much of her writing for specific roles rather than characters, it's not. The characters fit like puzzle pieces, enhancing each other, the story, and the setting. Morgenstern uses their statuses to tie the reader to the plot.

We've all been the dreamers and outsiders seeing something different and wishing it would whisk us away. Erin Morgenstern has a talent I don't see as often in literature as I would like. Her book becomes her world. We are visitors to Le Cirque des Reves just as we are visitors to the book. We see the action taking place, we can feel the difference in the tone of the book, as the tone of the circus changes but we are never really a part of it. It will always be that world we so want to be a part of. Ordinarily, this distance would also drive me crazy, pull me out of the book. But that's not the case here. It is exactly how I should feel, as much as it hurts. I love that she can do that. I love that I hurt because it is exactly how I should feel. I should feel torn between a world that I've known to be real and what that feels like it should be.

It's amazing.

But yes, I adore the relationship between Celia and Marco. It's not the highlight of the book. It's incredibly important but it's not the whole story. It's understated and delicate. They are both so full of power, strength, longing, desire, doubt, love, and fire that it's an absolute delightful heartbreak reading about them. They are suited to each other so perfectly. They ended up being the perfect balance of passion, love, sacrifice, purity, and naivete. There is something so likely about them, something that doesn't make them seem like a fictional couple at all. I am awed by that. I wish I could do that.

I realize now, as I write this that The Night Circus should not have been my sort of book. The plot is right up my alley but the in terms of writing style I kept using some version of the phrase "ordinarily." But I love this book. I want to live in this book, preferably as an insider and not just a dreamer. I feel like I did live there for a time. That's such an awe-inspiring thing to experience, let alone be able to write.

I want to go on and on and on about it but I still feel like I cannot do it justice. Also, I have to be at work in six hours.

Overall rating: Beyond Epic

The book hangover on this one would be absolutely terrible if I didn't have The Evolution of Mara Dyer to start tomorrow. I. am. so. Excited.

Also, I am now dying to be Celia, The Parmour, or Poppet for Halloween. I don't think I have time to pull any of them together.

Oh, and I am working on a new list. Back to the lists! We'll see though, it keeps changing.

I will get my act together soon, I promise.

And, really, read The Night Circus.

-A.M.Y-A

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