Decided to read this now, instead of waiting five months before I hit it alphabetically, because a. I needed a break from the Library Project (before I crunch in October) and b. I need to have read more than one book at my company’s current bestseller list. Plus, I had already flipped through the first few pages at work. I enjoyed reading this. The set-up of the Le Cirque des Reves and the characters who inhabit it completely pulled me in, and I just wanted to learn more. Morgenstern’s descriptions of the circus and the little details she throws in are vivid and (as she mentions at length) feel dreamlike. There’s several present-day scenes of the unseen reader travelers throughout the circus tents, and while those could be purple-y description, it actually adds to the experience of the book. To be honest, I couldn’t really care for Celia and Marco. I liked them, but there’s not a lot of characterization given to them and their relationship. It felt like they were just thrown together to be star-crossed lovers for plot’s sake. Celia is definitely the more dynamic of the two, as we see more of her onstage as the circus moves throughout the globe, and she’s more assertive in trying to figure out the game and how it end. In comparison, it doesn’t feel like Marco does as much. He’s always just in the background, controlling the circus and the owners’ motives, but he doesn’t really do much insofar as playing the game. If anything, I was much more interested in the Murray twins and Bailey Clarke’s stories. The twins, while they don’t get as much characterization whenever they appear, are a lot more dynamic and intriguing than the main plot. Poppet and Widge have a natural chemistry in their performances and with Bailey, and I wanted to see more of them growing up in the circus. Bailey’s not quite so well-developed—I wanted him to appear more and learn more about his story between the two times he goes to Le Cirque des Reves. The other side characters are a mix of really interesting, but not much described to them. Part of the reason I kept reading is because I wanted to know about those stories—Herr Thiessen and his reveurs; the Burgess sisters; Tsukiko, especially after we learn her backstory which is AT THE END, I MIGHT ADD. It feels like there could be a big universe of stories to come out of this book, but the story we’re following is the least interesting. It also doesn’t help that the characters with important backstories aren’t explained until they need to be and then there’s a massive info-dump and that’s it. But the one thing that frustrated me the most were the magic systems that Celia and Marco use, because it’s never explained how anything works. All we know is that Celia can physically manipulate objects and living things drawing on her own power and that Marco has to use symbols to cast his spells. And that’s it. We know that you can inherent magical ability and it can be learned, but it’s never explained how that works out. The game is even more frustrating, because when the endgame is revealed, the circus setting doesn’t make sense. I understand earlier, whenever Alexander and Hector are deliberately withholding information, but after the truth comes out, it’s still not explained. If it’s a display of power, why are they creating whimsical tents? Can Celia do more than just physical manipulation, or does she have other powers? How does Marco cast spells? What’s his runic system? Why a circus in the first place? What does creating a cloud maze or a labyrinth prove? Why does Bailey have to be the one to take over the Cirque instead of one of the many reveurs who’ve obsessed about it for years? In other words: EXPLAIN, NOVELIST, EXPLAIN. I’s all well and good to keep some element of mystery behind the magic, but not to the point that I honestly have no idea how it all works.I can see why there’s a lot of initial buzz about this book, but I understand some of the backlash, mainly because of “LET’S PROMOTE THE HELL OUT OF THIS! 175,000 IN THE FIRST PRINT RUN! MOVIE OPTIONS BY THE STUDIO THAT BROUGHT YOU TWILIGHT!” (And for the record, paranormal/fantasy romances =/= OMG Twilight. Please stop the comparisons, publishers.) And again, I did enjoy reading the book, but there’s a very noticeable lack of follow-through in a lot of the plot, and it’s extremely bothersome.