Today I’m going to be doing somewhat of a mini review on The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Ace of Spades by Faridah Abike-Lyimide! I hope you all enjoy this review and feel free to discuss with me your thoughts in the comments! Thanks for checking out these reviews!!
Also the reason why I called this “somewhat of a mini review” because some of these reviews may be considered longer than the standard mini review!
The Night Circus
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
Going into The Night Circus, I expected to be blown away. I was disappointed. From all the rave reviews on Goodreads, I wanted this book to knock my socks off. There were some positives, but there were many negatives that outweigh those few positives.
People see what they wish to see. And in most cases, what they are told that they see.– The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
The writing is what pulls this book together. Not many books used the same writing style as The Night Circus, and it was a fantastic change. It uses flowery language to make the setting and characters even more unique and a work of art. I don’t know what makes Erin Morgenstern’s writing so different, and the magic pours off the page. I was engrossed in the world, feeling as if I was attending the circus. Each exhibit captured my interest and made me want to experience them for myself.
The story is extremely slow. It runs over a snail’s pace, and it takes forever to begin the actual competition. It’s told after many decades about the circus and all the people within it. If you’re a reader that enjoys face-paced books, then this isn’t the book for you.
I tend to enjoy fast-paced books, but I like a slow-paced book once in a while. But I only like slow-paced books if you have some sense of plot progression, character development, well-built-up climax, and a satisfying ending. But The Night Circus had none of this. Remove some scenes because they do not affect anything whatsoever. I understand the author is trying to describe the circus in detail and show all the magical things that behold it, but that gets boring. We could have more pages dedicated to character arcs and developing relationships between characters more.
The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones.– The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
One of my pet peeves about books is time jumps. I try to avoid books with time jumps mainly for the reason that they can get very confusing. The Night Circus jumped from several years, and decades making it confusing to put the main timeline together. It made it especially hard to follow the story because I didn’t know if this scene or that scene came first.
Don’t get me started on the characters though. There were two main points on why the characters didn’t work for me.
1.Too Many Characters
One of the worst things that an author can do is have too many characters. If you have too many, some can be undeveloped, if you don’t spend enough time with them. It can also be confusing when trying to figure out what each character is doing or where in the story they are.
2. No Personalities
None of the characters have personalities. A bunch of stale crackers, if you asked me. I couldn’t connect with any of them. If I picked a random character, for example, Celia, I wouldn’t know where to begin to describe her. That’s the same case for all the characters in this book.
I have tried to let you go and I cannot. I cannot stop thinking of you. I cannot stop dreaming about you.– The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
Do you hear that? It’s the insta love alert!
The Night Circus suffers from a severe case of Insta-Love. It has all the symptoms. It’s a thrown-together love story, quickly established for the sake of the undeveloped plot. But not only is there one insta love alert but two! Both occur within one chapter with their first conversation with one another.
If you read the synopsis early, you may be wondering, what you’re describing doesn’t match up that much. And you would be right! One of the main elements that the book advertises is “A Fierce Competition.” A complete and utter lie. There are no skills, action, or magic duels. The characters don’t even know what the competition even entails until later on. When revealed, it ended up being very trivial and underwhelming.
Overall, this overhyped book ended up being a major disappointment.
Ace of Spades
An incendiary and utterly compelling thriller with a shocking twist that delves deep into the heart of institutionalized racism, from an exceptional new YA voice.
Welcome to Niveus Private Academy, where money paves the hallways, and the students are never less than perfect. Until now. Because anonymous texter, Aces, is bringing two students’ dark secrets to light.
Talented musician Devon buries himself in rehearsals, but he can’t escape the spotlight when his private photos go public. Head girl Chiamaka isn’t afraid to get what she wants, but soon everyone will know the price she has paid for power.
Someone is out to get them both. Someone who holds all the aces. And they’re planning much more than a high-school game…
I don’t often read thrillers and mysteries. I tend to stay in my lane of Fantasy as it is my favorite genre. But let me say that I’m so glad I went out of my comfort zone! Ace of Spades was pure perfection and captured my heartstrings. Usually, it takes me a few days to finish a book, but in mere hours I had completed it!
But I know dreams are dangerous; they give me too much false hope– Ace of Spades, Faridah Abike – Lyimide
This is a dark, twisty thriller and isn’t for the faint of heart. Topics such as racism, homophobia, elitism, and white supremacy are present throughout the book but are woven into a short period while still allowing the terrifying mystery to breathe. It digs deeper and questions everything in their world. It was downright scary and compelling to want to learn more.
Each protagonist went through horrible incidents that threatened to ruin their present lives and their futures. These incidents showed that no matter their economic standing, they still suffered from the same racist acts. I appreciated how Faridah wasn’t afraid to shy away from injustices and heart-wrenchingly awful pain. You feel the need to help the characters wanting to help them escape the pain.
By using dual POV, it creates the opportunity to generate more suspense compared to one. By jumping from POVs, each chapter ends with a cliffhanger and how frustrating they are. It’s a great way to keep the reader engaged, never losing interest in the story.
Money can only get you so far; you need power and influence to go with it.– Ace of Spades, Faridah Abike – Lyimide
The internal dialogue of Chiamaka and Devon helps the readers to connect and empathize with them. The characters have personal struggles, but they encounter many problems at school with the appearances of Aces in their Senior year. You can tell that they both struggle with being the only black kids in a white school, which has them working ten times harder than everyone else. They don’t always do the “right” thing but are even more relatable for it.
Both characters were equally likable.
At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about Chiamaka, but she grew on me. Chiamaka is a popular girl. She is a perfectionist wanting to be at the top of her class to get into Yale. When looking into her chapters, we see how she blocks out parts of herself to fit into the white society at Niveus and explore her sexuality.
Devon was the character I fell in love with, and his story broke my heart. He has had to claw his way to success out of his poor neighborhood to support his family. His mother works three jobs and wants to do well at Niveus to help out his family. He is quiet, never wanting to be the center of attention, and has a passion for music, wanting to get into Julliard. He was a cinnamon roll and felt the need to protect him.
After Aces’ attacks, it left me in shock, and I didn’t think that it could get worse. I kept trying to guess who is Aces and what their motivation was. All the twists and turns had me reeling and wanting to find out the truth. It was an intricately woven mystery filled with various pieces putting together like a puzzle.
I stop myself from apologizing-because what would I even be sorry for? Existing too loud?– Ace of Spades, Faridah Abike – Lyimide
The representation is written very well and beautifully put on display. Chi’s exploration of her sexuality was handled well, and you could see how she questioned herself many times. Devon’s sexuality was great to see, and I enjoyed getting to see each of his relationships. You could see how both characters accepted their identity and weren’t afraid to let it show.
The only complaint that I have is that the ending felt rushed, and I was a bit underwhelmed. I excepted a confrontation of the antagonist, but it was wrapped up quickly. I appreciated how they used social media as a form of activism and a call for justice. Having the epilogue open-ended was a great move, and I could not stop theorizing what would happen next.
An incredible thrilling debut, Ace of Spades is an important book that will grab on the heartstrings. A chilling mystery with lovable characters, exploration of real-life topics, and a dark academic setting.
TW: Racism, Homophobia, elitism, death, car accident, mention of n word, physical violence, drugs, alcohol, consumption, stalking, white supremacy