Mini Reviews: Unpopular Opinions – Vicious, The Night Circus, Lost Boy


In Vicious, two men decide to give themselves supernatural abilities, but it doesn’t quite turn out how they planned. In The Night Circus, two magicians are pitted against each other in a lifelong contest, using a magical traveling circus as their playing field. In Lost Boy, James tells the tale of how he started out in Neverland as a Lost Boy and eventually became Captain Hook. Enjoy (or maybe don’t enjoy, if you disagree) my mini reviews for these three popular, widely loved books that, I, well, didn’t love.

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Book Cover - Vicious (Villains Book 1) by V.E. Schwab
Title: Vicious
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Tor
Series: Villains
Book Number: Book 1
Pages: 366
Rating: 3 stars

I feel like I should preface this by saying I read this book and wrote this review some years ago and just never posted it, and who knows how differently I might view it now. But anyway...

This one just never gripped me. The characters were less "morally gray" and more "morally reprehensible," which would've been ok, except that I didn't feel connected to or invested in them. Eli was the most interesting, but I feel like both main characters' villainous ways were the only depth they had; Victor was obsessed with getting revenge on Eli, and Eli believed he was on some sort of holy crusade, and that's all I could tell you about either of them. The omniscient POV and the constant jumping around timelines probably didn't help with my disconnected feeling either.

I didn't hate this, I just didn't see all the same things in it that many other readers did.


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Book Cover - The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Title: The Night Circus
Publisher: Anchor
Pages: 401
Rating: 3 stars

This was one of those books I kept saying I was going to read for years. But when I finally got around to it, I ended up wanting to DNF and had to force myself to keep going.

The POV was omniscient, and it jumped around so much in time and place to encompass so many characters that I didn't feel connected to any of them. I also could never keep track of whether we were going forward or back in time or how old anyone was.

Also, the blurb makes the book out to be a story about Celia and Marco, their competition, and their doomed romance. So I was frustrated that I never really understood their competition and that the two characters hardly spent any time together in the book. I might've enjoyed this more had it focused on the two of them because they seemed like they could've been interesting characters. As it was, I hardly got to know them.

What I liked were the parts about Bailey becoming friends with Poppet and Widget and the circus itself. It was very magical and would be an amazing place to visit.

I'm clearly in the minority, but this book wasn't for me. I didn't think it was bad, but I couldn't get into it.


Lost Boy by Christina Henry

Book Cover - Lost Boy by Christina Henry
Title: Lost Boy
Author: Christina Henry
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 302
Rating: 2.5 stars

This is the third Peter Pan retelling I've read that is about Captain Hook, and it is, like the others, based on J.M. Barrie's original book rather than the Disney movie. Hook is my favorite character in the original, and I prefer retellings that don't ignore the terrifying, dangerous aspects of Peter (or, in this case, retellings that lean into it), so those were the reasons I wanted to read this and the things I liked about it. Unfortunately, I found this incredibly slow, I felt like hardly anything actually happened, and I just couldn't get into it. And then it ended right when we got to what would've been the best part---James becoming a pirate. I also felt like James didn't have any of the personality or canonical backstory he has in the original. It was like a different character with the same name---which is fair, authors can do what they want with retellings, but it's also fair for me to be a bit disappointed.

The audiobook narration by Samuel Roukin was great though; it sounded natural and was pleasant to listen to.

Despite my love of Captain Hook, this book wasn't for me, but I think those who enjoy slow-paced books and who don't have (or can put aside) expectations for James/Hook might enjoy this more.


Talk to me!

Have you read any of these books (and did you like them)?
Do you like when books don't follow a linear timeline?
Do you like when books encompass many characters and places?
Do you like retellings about specific characters to have some similarities?


Your Thoughts


16 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: Unpopular Opinions – Vicious, The Night Circus, Lost Boy

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  1. Suz

    I’m with you on The Night Circus. I thought it looked a great premise, but I couldn’t get into it. It’s not often I give up on a book, but I never finished this one.
    *hangs head in shame and slouches off into the corner*

  2. Angela

    The Night Circus is one of my favorite books, so I’m sorry to hear you didn’t love it! I agree, though, it is about way more than the romance, and I can see how the blurb might be a little misleading.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I’m glad you love it so much! I do think it has a misleading blurb, I wonder if maybe having the right expectations would’ve made it more enjoyable for me.

  3. Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy

    I’m a big fan of Vicious and Lost Boy but I know you’re not the only one who doesn’t love them. I read The Night Circus a long time ago so I don’t remember much, but I do remember enjoying it. I have read plenty of books where I feel that my reaction is the opposite of what everyone else thinks, though.

  4. Sarah

    I also gave The Night Circus 3 stars. I looked at the relationship between the two characters as kind of a long distance relationship; equivalent in today’s world being a relationship only had online via chat. I read it some time ago, but do remember I was wanting something more from the story and sometimes being lost, but able to look over these and eventually get back in to the story.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Huh, I hadn’t thought it that way, but that’s a cool way to look at it. Yeah I don’t think it was bad, there were some things I liked, but it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

  5. Roberta R.

    The only one of these I toyed with the idea of reading was The Night Circus, but I read a sample and just couldn’t get into the writing. I understand your frustration lying elsewhere though. It’s probably a testament to the atmosphere of this book that so many people love it, but I would like more meat (as in, character development and interaction) as well.

    “Do you like when books don’t follow a linear timeline?”
    I love books that do that! But it’s a bit tricky to accomplish…it takes a very skilled writer.

    “Do you like when books encompass many characters and places?”
    Again, yes! But (again) it takes a writer who knows how to make me care for all of them.

    “Do you like retellings about specific characters to have some similarities?”
    Eh…retellings are not my thing at all 🤷‍♀️.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I generally like more meat in my books as well. You make a good point! Both of those things aren’t necessarily things I always dislike either I guess, it just depends on how well they’re written.

  6. Sam @ Spines in a Line

    I haven’t read any of these but have heard great things so great to hear your thought. If you’re looking for a different Peter Pan retelling that definitely emphasizes Peter’s dangerous side, I enjoyed All Darling Children by Katrina Monroe

  7. Becky @ A Fool’s Ingenuity

    I’m not even surprised to see you didn’t enjoy another Peter Pan retelling. I know you enjoy them but I feel like you always look for specific things in your retelling and unfortunately are frequently let down. Oh well, at least you gave it a shot.

    I do have.the opposite opinion on both The Night Cirucs and Vicious. I’ve reread Vicious fairly recently and will say I get why it didn’t work for you, there aren’t really likeable characters but I did like how as the book progressed the hero and the villain were not as they seemed. I don’t think the characters were ever meant to be truly likeable. As for The Night Circus, I read it a long time ago so my memory is fuzzy of it but I really liked the circus setting, I want more circus books. I do feel like I should reread and see if it still holds up.

    1. Kristen Burns

      THEY ALWAYS DISAPPOINT ME, BECKY 😭 Lol you hit the nail on the head. I’ve enjoyd some, but they never deliver what I really want. But I am DETERMINED to find one that does, damn it!

      I kind of wonder if I’d enjoy Vicious more if I gave it another try now. I knew you really liked The Night Circus. But idk, just didn’t work for me. I used to always be on hte lookout for circus books, but I almost always was disappointed because I really wanted to read about characters who were performers, and often circus books just use the circus as a vague backdrop.

  8. Flora

    Well, I haven’t read any of these, Kristen, but I enjoyed reading your take on them. I wish you luck on your Pan re-telling quest. 😉 x