Three for three: 3 books with 3 stars

5 Feb

The Night CircusThe Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I borrowed this book from my mom who borrowed it from my aunt, and in my opinion that’s the way to go–borrowing, not buying. The premise of the book sounds promising. A game, really more like a battle, between the protegés of two magicians and by extension, two forms of magic, comes to a head in a phantasmagorical circus. A wrench is thrown into the works when the naive sorcerer’s apprentices – SHOCKER – fall in love with each other.

Trouble is, the connection between the protagonists felt forced. You may think chemistry only applies to actual people–not so, I discovered. The spark between the two young never-aging lovers was more like a fizzle.

Lack of chemistry overall was truly this book’s downfall. From the red-scarved groupies who follow the circus from continent to continent, to the vitriol between the two aged magicians, to the young boy who gave up his whole life to operate the circus in perpetuity, the passion never left the page.

I give it three stars instead of two as a nod to the descriptions of the circus exhibitions. Neat and obviously well-thought out. In fact, I have the distinct impression that the author thought up the entire circus as a central motif, and then threw in a story around it as an afterthought (ringing true for my current read too, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: review coming soon.)

I was dying for this book to be good, but it just wasn’t quite. In fact, the last few magical realism books I’ve read have all fallen flat for me. Maybe it’s time to accept that I’m just not into this genre?

The NamesakeThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I listened to this book in the car, and while I was definitely interested, I wasn’t entirely engrossed. Any peek into another culture (and how people of dual nationality sit astride the divide) holds a certain fascination for me, and this book had that in spades. Lahiri has a knack for writing extremely realistic characters too, my personal fave being the centenarian lady in whose home the father stays when he first comes to America. But (there’s always a but, right?), realistic characters have the unfortunate tendency to be boring. There wasn’t a lot of going against the grain, swimming upstream, personal heroics that really grab me as a reader. Granted, I don’t think the author intended this book to be such. Would I read it again? Probably not. But if you asked me, is it worth reading, I would say definitely!

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If anyone has been considering whether or not to start this series–I’m talking about people who, like me, are lukewarm at best towards the fantasy genre as a whole, but recognize there has to be something worthwhile to anything that’s made into a premium channel series–I have only this to say: Better be ready for violence, sex, and sex in your violence (hat tip, Bush). I’m not sure whether it’s just me as a first time madre or all parents world-wide, but I find the gory death of babies and children, if not intolerable, then veryvery close. There’s a lot of that in this series, more as the story progresses into the sequels (hello, three-year-old smashed in the face with a mace).

If you can get past all that (or to be honest, even if you can’t hardly), this is a captivating read. The world Martin has created is just close enough to the known one (as in, ours) to be familiar and just foreign enough (as in, Middle Earth) to be accepting of the violent demise of fictional infants and other innocents in whom you are invested. Once you pick it up, the likelihood of your putting it down again is slim.

View all my reviews

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