In Vicious, two men decide to give themselves supernatural abilities, but it doesn’t quite turn out how they planned. In The Night Circus, two magicians are pitted against each other in a lifelong contest, using a magical traveling circus as their playing field. In Lost Boy, James tells the tale of how he started out in Neverland as a Lost Boy and eventually became Captain Hook. Enjoy (or maybe don’t enjoy, if you disagree) my mini reviews for these three popular, widely loved books that, I, well, didn’t love.
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
I feel like I should preface this by saying I read this book and wrote this review some years ago and just never posted it, and who knows how differently I might view it now. But anyway...
This one just never gripped me. The characters were less "morally gray" and more "morally reprehensible," which would've been ok, except that I didn't feel connected to or invested in them. Eli was the most interesting, but I feel like both main characters' villainous ways were the only depth they had; Victor was obsessed with getting revenge on Eli, and Eli believed he was on some sort of holy crusade, and that's all I could tell you about either of them. The omniscient POV and the constant jumping around timelines probably didn't help with my disconnected feeling either.
I didn't hate this, I just didn't see all the same things in it that many other readers did.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
This was one of those books I kept saying I was going to read for years. But when I finally got around to it, I ended up wanting to DNF and had to force myself to keep going.
The POV was omniscient, and it jumped around so much in time and place to encompass so many characters that I didn't feel connected to any of them. I also could never keep track of whether we were going forward or back in time or how old anyone was.
Also, the blurb makes the book out to be a story about Celia and Marco, their competition, and their doomed romance. So I was frustrated that I never really understood their competition and that the two characters hardly spent any time together in the book. I might've enjoyed this more had it focused on the two of them because they seemed like they could've been interesting characters. As it was, I hardly got to know them.
What I liked were the parts about Bailey becoming friends with Poppet and Widget and the circus itself. It was very magical and would be an amazing place to visit.
I'm clearly in the minority, but this book wasn't for me. I didn't think it was bad, but I couldn't get into it.
Lost Boy by Christina Henry
This is the third Peter Pan retelling I've read that is about Captain Hook, and it is, like the others, based on J.M. Barrie's original book rather than the Disney movie. Hook is my favorite character in the original, and I prefer retellings that don't ignore the terrifying, dangerous aspects of Peter (or, in this case, retellings that lean into it), so those were the reasons I wanted to read this and the things I liked about it. Unfortunately, I found this incredibly slow, I felt like hardly anything actually happened, and I just couldn't get into it. And then it ended right when we got to what would've been the best part---James becoming a pirate. I also felt like James didn't have any of the personality or canonical backstory he has in the original. It was like a different character with the same name---which is fair, authors can do what they want with retellings, but it's also fair for me to be a bit disappointed.
The audiobook narration by Samuel Roukin was great though; it sounded natural and was pleasant to listen to.
Despite my love of Captain Hook, this book wasn't for me, but I think those who enjoy slow-paced books and who don't have (or can put aside) expectations for James/Hook might enjoy this more.