Review of The Circle by Mats Strandberg & Sara Bergmark Elfgren. The Circle is a swedish urban fantasy novel about five young women in a small town learning magic and finding friendship.
My review of The Circle by Mats Strandberg & Sara Bergmark Elfgren
The Circle managed to transport me into the mind of the young women in the book. Made me feel their emotions, their frustrations, their joy. The Circle is quite heavy at times but it is also full of joy. And I really enjoyed reading it. The Circle protrail teenage girls as real fully fleshed human being with real problems and real joy.
My review from 2014 of The Circle by author
Title: The Circle
Author: Mats Strandberg & Sara Bergmark Elfgren
Series: Engelsfors, book 1
Genre: Urban fantasy, young adult, social realism
Themes: Friendship, bullying, learning magic, class
Content warning: Bullying, suicide, drugs
It has been some time since I read a young adult book that I actually liked. I think I found one! While many young adult books make teenage problems seems so trivial and angsty to the adult reader, The Circle managed to transport me into the mind of the young women in the book. Made me feel their emotions, their frustrations, their joy.
The book is quite heavy at times but it is also full of joy. A word of warning, the book deals with suicide quite a bit. The book let the teenagers actually be teenagers, not the perfect Barbie dolls that tend to show up in so much American fiction. They bully each other, they do drugs, they have sex, they are angry, sad, happy, joyful, mean. They are actual human beings. The group we follow is also quite a diverse group. Not ethnically diverse but diverse in personality, economic background and academic skill.
Bullying is a big theme in the book and it is treated seriously and realistically. When one of the bullied get all the power, she abuses the power, she is not perfect because she used to be the victim. They all take part in the bullying – if nothing else indirectly. They all feel conflicted about it. It is a heavy book at times, but it is never so heavy that it made me sad or removed my enjoyment from the book, but it let me think a lot.
Another interesting thing about the book is the setting. A smallish town with a failed industry and not much of a future for any of the young living there. Nothing is glossed over and the book spend time on the worn down look of everything, the drunk in the park, the school that has seen better days. If you have seen Scandinavian movies you probably know what I mean, it is the same feel. And it works! It is realistic without becoming depressing because the characters has/gains agency.
And I really enjoyed reading it. I am ordering the next one right now and I am glad I got some other good books to read while I wait for it to show up otherwise I would be pretty grumpy about the book ending.
The stats: The Circle
Published: 2011 by Rabén & Sjögren
Length: 608 pages
Read: March 12 to 14, 2014
Author: male & female, white, Sweden
The protagonists: 5 females, straight, teenagers, Swedish, small town, able-bodied.
This review was originally posted: March 17, 2014. Updated and edited July 1, 2023