The Circle by Sara B Elfgren & Mats Strandberg
Just finished reading The Circle by Sara B Elfgren and Mats Strandberg.
The Circle is the first in a trilogy. It starts out fairly quickly and brings together six girls, under a red moon. They’ve come together in spite of themselves, they certainly aren’t friends and they’re about to discover that they have each been gifted with strange abilities and are to be bound together by an ancient power, one which they must master in order to survive. More importantly, they need to come together and help each other in their forthcoming struggles, a task which won’t be easy considering the way that some of these girls feel about each other.
The story starts out in high school where one of the students has just committed suicide. Or at least that’s how it appears. We are then introduced to the different characters who make up the story and a little bit of each of their personalities is revealed before they finally meet on the night where their new-found talents are revealed. Basically the girls are witches and not only that they are ‘chosen ones’. Part of a strange prophecy predicted to help save the world. Witches exist the world over but very little is really known about them as most the information relating to them is regulated, manipulated or deleted entirely in order to feed incorrect ideas. They are controlled by a body called ‘The Council’ who forbid certain activities such as revealing themselves to regular humans. Basically something evil is taking place and is predominantly focused at the school and the girls have no idea when one of them might be targeted next by whatever evil lurks there. Eventually they manage to put some of their own prejudices aside to come together and practice their skills but they have very little knowledge or guidance and they’re really stumbling around in the dark waiting to be picked off one by one.
So, obviously we have quite a mix of characters here. At first I had a bit of a puzzle keeping all the different names together with their own personalities. But, eventually it all comes together and you start to gain a picture of each of the girls. The girls range from the school bitch to the emo chick – sorry to categorise them in such a way but that’s sort of the truth of this situation. We run the extremes between the ‘popular’ girl and the ‘book geek’. We take a bit of a look at bullying, eating disorders, alchohol use and teenage sex. Looking at the characters involved I wouldn’t particularly say that any of them are happy or content, and even where you would think there would be a general feeling of happiness for a particular girl there is instead insecurity. I liked the way that the book wasn’t rushed and this also give a bit more of a chance for some stronger character building and a bit of an insight into each girl’s home/family life and how it impacts on them in totally different ways.
In terms of setting, well it felt very generic. Frankly, you could be in any high school anywhere but I guess this makes the book easier for the reader to relate to or more to the point it allows the reader just to pick it up and assume it’s something they’re familiar with which also diminishes the need for lengthy explanations or overly detailed descriptions. I suppose the only real difference is the climate, but again, that didn’t impact too much on what takes place.
Criticisms – well, this isn’t a short book, 600 pages or thereabouts. I don’t mind lengthy books but if I’m going to be honest this did feel as though it could have been shortened – I think if it had been shortened somewhat it might have been a little more punchy. The other thing for me was that, despite the number of characters involved I didn’t particularly find myself strongly caring for any one of them – well, I probably liked one more than the rest but I didn’t feel like I really had any anxiety about any of them and even when something bad happened I didn’t feel overwhelmingly sad about it. And, the plot, it feels a little bit thin – again, I think reducing the size of the book may have assisted with this.
On the whole, though, I thought this was a good book. I can imagine that it will be well received by the audience which it is intended for and although I’m certainly not the target market I will pick up book number 2.