Friday, 23 November 2012

Cirkeln/The Circle by Mats Strandberg & Sara Bergmark Elfgren (2.5/5)

The back says: One night, when a strange red moon fills the sky, six school girls find themselves in an abandoned theme park, drawn there by a mysterious force. A student has just been found dead. Everyone suspects suicide. Everyone - except them. In that derelict fairground an ancient prophecy is revealed. They are The Chosen Ones, a group of witches, bound together by a power, one which could destroy them all. But they soon learn that despite their differences they need each other in order to master the forces that have been awakened within them. High school is now a matter of life and death. Because the killing has only just begun.

I say: I had to read this for my YA course at uni, and although I read it in Swedish I thought I’d write the review in English since it has recently been translated. This was everywhere in Sweden last year – probably because it’s the first YA fantasy book of this genre written in and about Sweden. A lot of the English post-apocalyptic and paranormal YA novels have been translated into Swedish and been extremely successful, so this was bound to happen.

Too bad it happened in such a disappointing way.

Before I say anything else, I am not much for fantasy and I rarely read books with paranormal elements. I have picked up a few of these this year in a bid to expand my reading and stop being so prejudiced, but truth be told, it’s not really my cup of tea. Therefore, my review of this will be rather biased.

The first thing that annoyed me about The Circle was that there are so many different narratives going on. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with so many main characters having so much say, and it was confusing. What didn’t help matter was that we had all the teenage stereotypes represented; the goth, the emo, the nerd, the fat one, the promiscuous one, the popular one, and there may have been someone else in there I have forgotten. They all speak and act in the same way these characters always do and it bored me.

Another thing that almost made me violent was that they had stolen been so inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now, I love me some BtVS and take pride in knowing a hell of a lot more about the series than might be considered socially acceptable, so I can pinpoint exactly to who, what, where, when, why and in which corresponding episode. When we were having a discussion about this at uni I pointed out all the similarities and my fellow students were really shocked that this book had so many similarities. I could list them all here, but they are too many and I really can’t be arsed.

Also, I may ruin it for anyone who hasn’t watched Buffy.

Finally, the plot was boring and full of clichés. Honestly, it’s almost embarrassing that the Swedish press was calling this new and fresh when they’ve just cherry-picked from random mythology and pop-culture. The only reason this is getting a 2.5/5 is because it has an interesting whodunit that I didn’t see coming – but then I never do; I spend my time being annoyed over poor language and bad writing.

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