Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Review: Circus Mirandus

Circus Mirandus
By Cassie Beasley
Expected publication June 2, 2015 by Dial Books

Micah is in need of a miracle. Well, actually, his grandfather is. The good news is that a man known as the Lightbender promised him one many years ago. The bad news is that the miracle he needs might be beyond the Lightbender's abilities. Can Micah find a way to help his grandfather - with or without the Lightbender's help?

This book has been getting a lot of buzz. Circuses are very in at the moment and debuts usually garner a fair amount of attention, so this combo really brought this book to the limelight. I received a copy as part of Penguin's Young Readers Author program and I was excited to check it out and see if it lived up to the buzz.

I have been a bit underwhelmed with my recent reads - nothing truly awful but nothing truly outstanding either. Unfortunately, Circus Mirandus was one such title - middle of the road for me. There is nothing terrible about this - it's quite a well-written novel, actually, with a story that I think will draw readers in (there's a reason circuses are very in right now, after all) and characters that are easy enough to care about. But, for me personally, it was not nearly as magical and engaging as I expected.

Perhaps my inability to connect with this came because I am in a bit of a reading slump and was predisposed to being disappointed in this book. Perhaps I was jarred by how terribly sad this book is - I don't think it's really a spoiler to say that Micah's grandfather is dying and he's being cared for by his great-aunt, a woman who clearly sees him as an imposition on her own life. Or perhaps this book just isn't as magical as the buzz suggests it is.

As I said, though, I can definitely see the appeal of this for other readers and, after all, I didn't hate it; I just wanted more from it. There is a magical circus (despite my harping on the lack of a magical atmosphere) and Micah is a pretty outstanding character. He is not afraid to do what needs to be done in his attempts to save his grandfather. I was a bit irritated at him a few times over the novel's course, but that feels realistic for a kid his age. I also thought his friendship with Jenny was a pretty convenient development and I was disappointed with the conclusion of Victoria's story as well.

Overall, this was just not the book for me, but I certainly think it will find readers in my library and I'll be happy to point it their way.

Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via NetGalley.

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