Not sure what the hype is about. It was a really detailed book with a lot of descriptions and some were really interesting, some not so much. It just ended up being OK. Not great, not wonderful. Not sure I would read it again though. And I found that disappointing. I think a circus setting is marvelous and the idea of magical people controlling it was interesting too but was never made into anything that wowed me. The storey disintegrated into a love story about two people we really didn't know much about personality wise and didn't care that much about. They were not the most interesting people at the circus but the interesting ones didn't get their stories told at all. Over all it was like a novel trying to pull in trends from other books that were big hits. Steampunk, wizards and magic, forbidden love, etc, etc. It was almost like the writer was trying so hard to hit all the trends that they forgot to write a good story. The descriptions of some of the stuff were interesting but descriptions of settings do not a good novel make unless they make the STORY more interesting. This just didn't grab me. But the narrator was great!
This book has gotten very sterling reviews, so I found myself surprised by the strength of my dislike for it. In my view, it was a series of descriptions of the very "magical" circus connected by an undercooked plot. As for the love story--both characters were so dull, I had little interest in what became of them. Even though the word magical appeared countless times in this book, I found it was far from it.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
Within moments of beginning this recording my toes began curling with pleasure and I felt cozy comforters being tucked in around me. This is an extraordinary story with extraordinary narration. Some might describe this story as dark, but a story which is uniformly uplifting can not be dark. Some describe the story as a romance, but a romance is seldom as nuanced. Is it a fantasy? Is it an allegory? Is it a retelling? It does not really matter, for this is a very good story. There is little action and little romance but a bouquet of delightful imagery. I found the story evoking archetypal memories that were familiar and comforting. If you prefer a fast moving story with lots of action, this is not the book for you. I loved the images, the slow even pace, and especially the circus. I suspect this book has forever changed the way I will feel whenever I think of a circus.
This was disappointing, I guess just not my style. I accidentally skipped ahead 3 hours and didn't even notice for another hour. It just wasn't a clear story or really all that compelling.
The advance hype drowned out the experience. It was weak story with little character developoment. It turned out to be just an average book read by a brilliant narrator.
... in a very long time. I've recommended it to everyone I know and haven't gotten a single response other than that they loved it - and it doesn't matter whether they like war stories and Westerns (my husband) or Lord of the Rings (my son) or Tuesdays with Morrie (my daughter) or PD James novels (my mom). Now, how can you resist a book that has that kind of following?
When this book came out the reviews were good, but it was because Jim Dale narrated it that made me buy it. I bought it and let it "sit" until now. I'm not a huge fan of period books, that's my only excuse for why I let it sit for so long (Diana Gabaldon being the exception). I'm kicking myself for not listening to it until now. It is awesome! It's very well written. Morgenstern does such an amazing job of describing everything in such a way that it is not tedious and also makes you feel like you're there. At times I swear I could smell popcorn and caramel. I didn't catch on that it was going back and forth in time right away, but I caught on fairly quickly. The narration only makes the book that much more amazing, as I think Jim Dale would be magic reading the yellow pages. An excellent book.
I just couldn't finish it, gave up about half way through. If there's such a thing as too much ambiance, this is it. Over done.
I really wanted to like this book, but it was excruciatingly slow! I listened to it on Audible and the book was broken into two 7-hour parts. When I finally got to the second part, the action got started, but by then I was just ready for it to be over.
I really had a problem with Jim Dale's narration, too. I loved him reading the Harry Potter series, but for some reason he read this one in a sing-songy voice where every sentence, whether declarative, exclamatory, or interrogative, sounded like a question. At one point while listening in the car I actually yelled at my radio, "Shut up!!" and hit the off button.
Add to that the book was written in the present tense which also left me on edge, and this was not an enjoyable experience. Ok, I'm done with the whining and I'm on to the next book as quickly as I can!
I read for fun, multiple genre's. I review from a normal person perspective, not a fancy critic analyzing every nuance and writing style.
I really tried to like this book. I am almost done with the first download. I like books that draw you into the story quickly, and something is always happening to someone. This isn't that book. There is hardly a story. Its mostly description of a story she is trying to tell. If you like fast paced books and want to be hanging on by the end of the first chapter don't get this book. If you like artsy books, descriptive (like moby dick) then this is the book for you. If this was a childrens book it could be told in about 20 pages. Actually it would probably make a beautiful illustrated childrens book. Although I haven't and probably won't finish it. I have moved on to Fall of Giants.