Sunday, 9 October 2011

Cirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare

Level: Youth to Teen
Genre: Fantasy/Horror > Vampires
Obtained: Purchased at Borders
Reviewed by: Nic Echo

About the Book:
Darren Shan had a normal life until a fateful night. He and his friend, Steve, end up visiting a freak show that has come to town, but the truly freaky things happen after the show. First, Steve confronts one of the performers, a man known as Mr. Crepsley. However, Crepsley is not a man at all, but a vampire, and Steve wants Crepsley to turn him into a vampire. Much to his dismay, Steve is refused due to having "bad blood." Later, Darren returns to the theatre and ends up stealing something of Mr. Crepsley's: a highly venomous, performing spider. Eventually, he shows Steve the stolen spider, and they end up playing with her. Of course, something goes wrong and Steve gets bitten. Darren returns to Mr. Crepsley for help, but there will be a price. Crepsley will only give up the antidote if Darren becomes his half-human,half-vampire assistant and leave the world he knows behind.

Rating: 7/10
I originally came across this series after watching the movie, The Vampire's Assistant. I had also heard that a good portion of my friends had really liked these books. So far though, I have no been so impressed. Granted, it is only the first book, and there have been many great series that didn't have the best opening. The writing for this book hadn't sucked me in and wish Shan had written in a little more details. Now, we are not supposed to know where the story is taken place since it is supposed to be a true tale. I had no problem with that. The problem I had was that I had such trouble envisioning what was happening, because none of the characters were ever really described (except the freaks and the spider). I didn't even know what age they were supposed to be, and the dialogue didn't help me to decipher it either. In fact, the dialogue wasn't all together great, but I wasn't expecting something fabulous either. However, half the time it seemed like they were really young kids (twelve at the oldest) while other times I thought maybe he was supposed to be fourteen

The writing aside, I did find the plot to be quite interesting. Being the first book, there was a lot of introductory elements so that did slow the book down tremendously. In fact, a good chunk of the action didn't start picking up until the end of the tale. However, it was a take I hadn't read before, and the freak show was really interesting to read about. It also looks like the next book ought to have a lot more meat to it. I'll definitely keep reading ahead to see where this goes. So far, though, I would say that it is just mediocre for anyone over fourteen. However, I think children (especially boys) between the ages of nine to twelve would find it quite enjoyable, and I would easily recommend it to them. I know I may see if my cousin would be interested.

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