Book Review of The Circle by Mats Strandberg and Sara Bergmark Elfgren

Posted May 10, 2013 by Kara in Kara / 6 Comments

Publisher: Overlook Press
Release Date: May 2nd, 2013
Pages: 608
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher.

Description from GoodreadsOn a night after the apparent suicide of high school student Elias Malmgren, a blood-red moon fills the night sky. Minoo wakes up outside her house, still in her pajamas, and is drawn by an invisible force to an abandoned theme park on the outskirts of town. Soon five of her classmates–Vanessa, Linnea, Anna-Karin, Rebecka and Ida–arrive, compelled the same force. A mystical being takes over Ida’s body and tells them they are fated to fight an ancient evil that is hunting them. The park is a safe haven; the school, a place of danger. The six are wildly different and definitely not friends…but they are the Chosen Ones.

As the weeks pass, each girl discovers she has a unique magical ability. They begin exploring their powers, but they are not all firmly committed to their mission–to discover the truth about Elias’s death. Then a horrible tragedy strikes within the circle. Newly determined to fight the evil forces, they begin to learn magic from The Book of Patterns, an ancient work with a will of its own that reveals different things to different witches.

In this gripping first installment of the Engelsfors Trilogy, a parallel world emerges in which teenage dreams, insanely annoying parents, bullying, revenge, and love collide with flirtation, dangerous forces, and ancient magic. An international sensation with rights sold in 24 countries, The Circle is razor-sharp and remarkable from start to finish.

I’m not sure what i expected out of The Circle y’all but it definitely wasn’t what I got. First of all, this book is way too freaking long. That could be the translation because the original is only 516 pages, so this one is almost another hundred, but honestly, for this book, even 500 pages is too long. It’s not a bad book, mind you, it’s just that the pacing is all over the place and there is no excuse for that. It felt like there were entire chapters where nothing happened, and my god the exposition. Oh LORD. It went on forever! 

Okay, so first thing you should know is that there are a LOT of characters in The Circle. There are 6 main girls and a whole lot of teachers, principals, parents, and friends to keep track of. It’s a lot. As you can imagine, with that many characters, the characterizations were either going to be make it or break it. And I am sad to say that it was mostly break it. By the end of the book I cared enough about them, but once again, this book is 600 pages. That should have happened sooner. This book is so bloated with different POVs and characters that were in the book for all of 5 pages, that there was never any time to get to know them. That, and there is the fact that you can pretty much define each girl by a couple of character traits and that is it. There is the chubby, dorky one (Anna Karin), the popular girl who bullies the dorky girl (Ida), the brainy loner (Minoo), the goth, weird one that has no friends (Linnea) etc. They are walking stereotypes for teen girls and the more I read on, the more that became apparent they really had no depth and were not going to have any.

But. Now that I have gotten the negative out of the way, there ARE good things. The story is incredibly engaging. When the book is not being slow, it’s really exciting. It take a while for things to get going, but once it does, I liked it. The problem is that this book needed tightening up. Like a lot. It’s a great story, the writing is good, I liked the translation (for the most part–there were a few awkward structural issues toward the beginning), and I think it will make a great film (though it will be foreign, I might see it), but it was easy to walk away from because of the pacing issues. And that’s kinda bad because how many people put a book down out of boredom and never pick it back up again? A lot, I would say. 

I do like books about witches and witchcraft though, and there were some interesting ideas here that I have not seen in other witchcraft books. But it’s not wholly original, no, but I did think that the relationship dynamics worked well in the novel. Yeah, there are come common tropes, but I thought the way they conversed and interacted with each other was well done for the most part. It’s a little angsty, but I know some of you like that so that’s good to know, right?

So will I read the next one? Perhaps. I have not decided yet. It depends on the length because if it is as long as this one, I can see it having similar pacing issues. But at the same time, now that a lot of exposition is out of the way, it might be a whole lot better. I’d like to see the PLOT take a main focus in the next book, because it was there in this one, but a little hard to find at times. And I know it seems like I didn’t like this one, but that is really not the case. It’s just the length that keeps it from rating higher. But you would have to find that out for yourself! If you like books about witches, I say give it a go.

Oh, and I loved the Swedish setting. I really did. 

3/5 Dragons

6 responses to “Book Review of The Circle by Mats Strandberg and Sara Bergmark Elfgren

  1. Jaz

    Woah 600 pages for a book? Giving George R.R. Martin a run for his money I say. And even more POVs than his books?

    I really like the concept of this, like you, I love books about witchcraft but the 600 pages puts me off. And bad exposition/stereotypical characters = meh.

    Nice review thanks (:

  2. When started reading this on Goodreads, I may or may not have freaked out because I’ve never ever heard of this book before, and it sounded unique and interesting. To be honest it’s probably not the book for me, but still. I love discovering new things! So I’m glad you liked it for the most part (otherwise, what a waste of 600 pages). Maybe if you do decide to read the sequel, it will blow this out of the water! (And then I can decide if I want to read it or not, haha.)

    • I love discovering new things too. I think I probably will read the sequel if I remember to pick it up. I have so many release dates to remember! I do hope it’s paced better than this one.

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