carnivalesque neil jordan review

A DNF Review of Carnivalesque: It’s Not You, It’s Me

I was so bummed to have to DNF (did not finish) Carnivalesque by Neil Jordan. Even more so because I had to give up on it at 16% (gasp!). I usually try to at least make it 25% before calling it quits. Unfortunately, this was a situation where it wasn’t really a book issue, it was a me issue.

A DNF Review of Carnivalesque: It’s Not You, It’s MeCarnivalesque by Neil Jordan
Published by Bloomsbury USA on February 23, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 288
Format: Hardback
Source: Bloomsbury
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy from The Book Depository

Magical storyteller Neil Jordan steps into the realm of fantasy—for fans of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and The Watchmaker of Filigree Street.
It looked like any other carnival, but of course it wasn’t. The boy saw it from the car window, the tops of the large trailer rides over the parked trains by the railway tracks. His parents were driving towards the new mall and he was looking forward to that too, but the tracery of lights above the gloomy trains caught his imagination . . .
Andy walks into Burleigh’s Amazing Hall of Mirrors, and then he walks right into the mirror, becomes a reflection. Another boy, a boy who is not Andy, goes home with Andy’s parents. And the boy who was once Andy is pulled—literally pulled, by the hands, by a girl named Mona—into another world, a carnival world where anything might happen.
Master storyteller Neil Jordan creates his most commercial novel in years in this crackling, filmic fantasy—which is also a parable of adolescence, how children become changelings, and how they find their own way.

I received this book for free from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

What went right:

1. I was so excited when I received this book, because it’s about carnivals and changelings and sounds super duper creepy and weird and whimsical and perfect.

2. The cover is GORGEOUS!

3. The plot had tons of potential!… if it weren’t for all the things listed below.

What went wrong:

Let me preface this by saying that I’m all about efficient writing. I don’t like long, flourishing sentences, humongous paragraphs, or lengthy descriptions of atmospheric things that slow the plot progression.

1. This book’s formatting was literally the worst for my brain. Paragraphs would encompass ENTIRE PAGES, so I’d turn the page and see a RECTANGLE OF TEXT. That immediately turned me off. I know it’s stupid, but it’s a me thing and I can’t get past it.

2. The descriptions of scenes were OMG I CAN’T HANDLE. The part of the plot that progressed in that 16% I read was very interesting, BUT IT TOOK SO LONG TO GET THERE. I felt like I had to wade through so many words to actually get to the point. Now, some people (like my husband) love this literary style. I abhor it.

After only a few days of reading it, I began dreading having to open it up and would only read 1-2 pages before choosing to sleep instead. That’s never a good sign. I decided I should just DNF it and move on, so I did and I have!

DNF at 16%
I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who loves literary fiction (Jordan’s writing is lovely, just not my style!) and carnivalesque (…see what I did there??) settings.

What’s the last book you had to DNF? Or are you one of those that has to finish a book?

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  1. I have to finish. Entire chapters of Anna Karenina made me feel comatose, but I couldn’t not finish it. Took me 2 years, but dammit I finished it.

    (I tried to DNF but it haunted me.)

    1. Hahahah. Classics I almost always have to finish (I’m counting Little Women as finished since I technically finished the first part and that was once the only book….), so I can’t blame you for sticking with Anna. I trudged through Moby Dick despite wanting to chuck it in a fire numerous times.