ARC Review: The Circus by Olivia Levez

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Star Rating: 4/5 stars

I will start out by saying that this book was not at all what I thought it would be.

For some reason I imagined this book to be a fantasy set somewhere in 1900 hundreds, about a runaway who joined a circus. And while in a sense, it is a story about a runaway and a circus (however little of the actual circus was in it), I did not at all anticipated it to be so contemporary. After the initial shock of finding out that the story is very modern (it is set in 2016) wore out I started to really get into the story, and soon was not able to put it down.

The main character, Willow, runs away from home, and the events that follow after are quite ridiculous, but also heartfelt and raw. I could not peel my eyes off the pages, I just had to follow her journey all the way trough. What I loved the most was that there was never a “magic” solution, or an easy fix, or a miracle for any of her problems.

She kept getting knocked down by life in the most brutal and impossible ways, and she kept getting back up and making it through – and then getting knocked down again. And to think – that she was running away from things that most people would be running towards: money, friends, and stability. There was one exceptionally juicy plot twist, and I enjoy plot twists a lot. Especially when I don’t see them coming. “The Circus” touched many important and painful subjects, shedding light into dirty corners of our society. 

While the story was gripping and hard-to-put-down, the writing was a little choppy, and confusing at times. The long chapters were divided into smaller sub-chapters, and all of them had titles (most of the titles were very cryptic and didn’t help with the general confusion). And the worst part was that there was almost no differentiation between the things that were currently happening and the flashbacks that she was having.

Since the synopsis mentions Suz, a girl who the main character meets, and befriends, I will mention her too. At first I had trouble trying to justify their friendship, I can see that it was born out of the desperation and loneliness, but after Suz stole from her, I had troubles seeing why Willow stuck around. And the synopsis says that “now Willow will have to make a choice if she can trust that girl again”, well from the story Willow didn’t really give it much thought at all – they just kind of stuck together. But overall I think that Suz brought a lot of color and character to the book.

I would like to thank LibraryThing and Rock the Boat Publishing for providing me with an advanced reader copy of this book. “The Circus” took me by surprise in the beginning (don’t judge the book by its cover, right?), but managed to keep me completely engaged all the way through. 

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