Another teen movie franchise is on the horizon: Summit Entertainment has acquired the rights to adapt the popular young adult fantasy novel, The Night Circus, earlier this year. In a recent interview, Morgenstern has announced that the producer of the Harry Potter series is also working on the motion picture, with the first version of the screen play expected within the next few weeks. The OxStu looks back on The Night Circus.
Since the end of the incredibly popular Harry Potter book series and film franchise it appears not a week goes by without a book being heralded as its successor. Whilst it may not suffer from the dreaded ‘Whiny Female Protagonist Syndrome’ that afflicted both the Twilight and The Hunger Games series; a flat plot and underdeveloped characters means The Night Circus won’t be troubling J. K. Rowling’s crown.
Erin Morgenstern’s talent undoubtedly lies in crafting intricate and vivid visions in breath-taking detail, allowing the reader to experience the circus to a greater extent. The monochromatic Le Cirque de Rêves is billed as a circus like no other, arriving without warning and leaving just as abruptly, entrancing its audience with feats that defy rational explanation. It transpires that this is indeed the case and the circus is an amphitheatre for two masters of magic to pit their protégés against each other in a wager they refer to as ‘the game.’
The book is at its best during the early stages, as the students begin their unusual education – neither aware of who their opponent is, the rules of the game, how it will be decided and the extent to which they are merely viewed as pawns by their masters. This is interspersed with spectacular descriptions of the circus that draws the reader in deeper.
Unfortunately, as the story progresses, the exquisite portrayal is not mesmerising enough to conceal the lack of plot. Too often the author relies on fate to drive the story along and the tension that is created deflates like an old balloon. The subplot appears unrelated at first and then when it becomes crucial to the entire plot it never fully integrates with the rest of the story creating a very underwhelming ending. The book spans 30 years yet the main characters feel underdeveloped, and the minor characters are incredibly flat and are only used as devices to propel what little remains of the plot.
The Night Circus is ultimately best suited to a reader that enjoys escapism and can use the intense imagery to fully immerse themselves in the circus that Morgenstern skilfully created; becoming one of the rêveurs depicted in the story. However, if you require a story to have a strong plot as its foundation you’re a good deal better off looking somewhere else.