Cover Image: The Circus Infinite

The Circus Infinite

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Member Reviews

The Circus Infinite by Khan Wong has Jes, who has escaped from the institute which experimented on him, and now he's running as far and as fast as he can, and ends up at a circus.

This is a sci-fi book with aliens, set in space, and with lots of different powers described.

I didn't find that I loved the book, or the characters, but I liked the premise, and LGBTIQA+ representation with found family.

The Circus Infinite was published on 8th March 2022 and is available from Amazon, Waterstones and Bookshop.org.

You can follow Khan Wong on Twitter and his website.

I was given this book in exchange for an unbiased review, so my thanks to NetGalley and to Angry Robot.
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nice read, enjoyed it a bit,

- thanks to netgalley and the publisher for providing me with the ARC in exchange for an early review.
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A late review from me but I'm really happy to finally have gotten around to reading this! I found in really interesting seeing the spread of opinions in the other reviews, and I can see where people struggled with the book as well as the highlights, so it feels like a novel that will hold a different experience for everyone.

Bits I liked:
- fantastic asexual/panromantic rep in the main character, which made me (same identity) feel very happy and seen
- great overall LGBTQIA+ rep as well as some Global Majority diversity
- interesting world and alien species with lots of fascinating details/back-stories
- varying pace of plot with mix of interesting themes and emotional points
- characters with distinct personalities and reasonings, even ones you're meant to dislike
- great descriptive writing and imaginative world history that made me want to know more

Bits I liked less:
- some gruesome scenes I wasn't expecting at first, but they work within the plot
- a couple of areas I had to reread a little when I got a bit confused on what was happening, which was mainly when there was a lot of explanation of circus performance or equipment
- quite a lot of characters and side plots, but it all weaved in pretty well, with most things reaching a satisfying conclusion

Overall I really enjoyed it and I've been tearing through the book these last few evenings, needing to know the conclusion. I do think it's quite sprawling, and it would be great if this was the start of a duology or something, as it feels there's more to tell!
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This took me a while to get into but I really enjoyed it. It's a fun, well-written sci-fi with an abundance of found family and a great cast of characters. Really liked this one.
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Me: *sneaking in the back with a very over due review* 

What I Liked: 
- Interesting concept
-Asexual (and other queer) rep
-The circus

What I Didn’t Like:
-Some inconsistent characterization 
-The side plot. It need to be built out a bit more. 
-Some plot holes

Overall this was a fun, queer found family story set at space circus. It’s not perfect, but it’s still a entertaining read that I’d recommend.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an eARC!
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This was a unique story for sure. I'm still kind of torn on my feelings about it--there were parts I liked and parts I didn't, but the author's style is interesting. I will be keeping my eye on their work in the future.
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I thought I was going to really enjoy this at first, but unfortunately I lost my grasp of the story. I think this was mostly due to the writing style - I found it hard to follow along with what exactly was happening, I had a hard time differentiating between the characters, and the dialogues felt really forced and stilted. There was also a huge shift in tone between the flashbacks and the actual story, which felt jarring to read. Still, I don't think this was a bad book, it just did not work for me, so I decided to DNF it.
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loved the premise of this book but i have mixed feelings about it overall.

the characters all felt a bit one-note and lacking in complexity - i found them boring and didn't get attached to them (although i appreciate the diversity in the range of sexual identities in the cast). the dialogue felt awkward at times and the relationships weren't entirely believable. the worldbuilding was kind of flimsy - after the info-dump in the beginning, we don't really get to know much more about the world, which left me frustrated. also, the premise made me expect more action and excitement than we actually got. there were way too many side plots; it just felt like the author was juggling too many things at once. the writing also felt a bit too simplistic and YA-ish for an adult book. 

what i liked about this novel: the queer rep, the circus found family, the bits of worldbuilding that we got, and the magic powers.
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I'd hoped to read this book in time for publication, but life got in the way.... However, when I finally got around to it, I read it over a space of three evenings. 

Jes, a mixed-species fugitive with gravity powers, makes his way to the pleasure moon Persephone-9, where he hopes to blend in and escape those who want to exploit his powers. There's a Vegas and CIrque du Soleil in space vibe to the setting, but the story has a lot of dark elements, too. It's definitely worth checking trigger warnings (violence, drug use, torture, suicide). 

The story is told with chapters alternating between the now and flashbacks, and the flashbacks in particular are at times quite disturbing. I got very invested in the story; both timelines have their own villain, and I was rooting for Jes to escape both. The circus crew make a colourful found family for Jes, and it was good to see plenty of representation with an ace protagonist and various LGBTQ+ secondary characters.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an electronic copy in exchange for a review.
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Wow. This book is heavy. I had a hard time reading this. It took three tries like I said above. I have no clue how to write this review. On the one hand, awesome ideas. An ace main character that controls gravity and reads people’s minds? So cool!

But there’s also the negatives. This book is dark. And heavy. Please pay attention to triggers when diving into this book!

Let’s start with the world building. This was so cool. Loads of interesting things were in this book. The circus was only a part of it. The planets, the people, and the characters were all fascinating! The whole idea of the book was supremely intriguing and I so wanted to like it.

But there were scenes in this that just felt like it was trying to hard, and seriously stretching believability. I’m aware this is science fiction/fantasy, yet I struggled to connect with a lot of the characters. I didn’t really get the plot, and I just have no clue how to review this book.

Maybe I might need to read the again but I’m giving this a 2.5 stars rounded up to a generous three. It had great elements! It had a lot of promising features! But it just wasn’t to my taste.
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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I wrote my review for CatStone Books, published on February 22nd, 2022. Please check the link for the full review.
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I wish I had been able to read this book before it came out. Unfortunately, my life is a wreck, so it took a while. But anyway, thanks to Netgalley for the advanced digital copy, sent to me in exchange of an honest (and may I say belated) review.

What can I say? I am thrilled to say that I loved The Circus Infinite. I felt seen, understood, correctly represented. I lived the circus experience on my skin and I was at loss of words once I reached the ending because I mean. Where’s the rest? Is it over already? Are we sure? 
They way it ended though makes me hopeful; there must be going to be another volume because I need – stress on the need – to know what happens to Jes, how is he doing, how marvellous he’ll be now that he found more than what he asked for and was expecting.
By now you should’ve realised this review is going to be extremely subjective because I don’t think I can be the usual cold-hearted minion that tries to break down pros and cons, in regards of this book. It was too personal, too intimate for me to be even a tiny objective. Hence, I suggest you brace yourself. This won’t be long, because I don’t think I will upload it on my blog, but it’s going to be a ride.

Plot is easy: Jes is a runaway and is looking for a place to belong to and where he can hide and live his life as quietly and peacefully as possible. His grandmother’s stone brings him to a particular circus where he meets a cast of diverse characters. He doesn’t know in which way he’s going to find what he’s looking for in that circus, but Jes is willing to give it a try.

It is a SFF with a lot of queerness. I can safely say that almost every single character is there to represent one or more of the letters in the LGBTIAQ+ community, but I would like to mention just the MC, Jes, who is asexual and panromantic (and it’s not a spoiler. It’s there, in the very first twenty pages or so), because it’s a reality I live and I can discuss. For the rest of the representation, I wouldn’t know where to start because I don’t know enough and I don’t want to put here words that might be misinterpreted or harmful to someone.
I definitely appreciated the queer aspect, not only for the fact that it was there and it was focussed on the asexuality spectrum, but because each and every identity was part of the society. It was natural, discussed, understood and respected. It made me feel whole and seen, like I existed. Maybe it wasn’t the perfect representation, maybe it didn’t reflect someone else’s reality, but it did mine. So I was happy and grateful to have read this piece of literature.

I loved the circus as well. The vibes, the colours that I imagined in my head whilst picturing the whole setting. I loved the circus crew, because they are all sweethearts and they made my heart feel full. Some of them reminded me of my friends and I laughed at the parallel. I also loved the side characters, each one mature and flawed. They all felt realistic, to me. Except maybe Moxo whom I hated. And Dax, whom was way more than just an unlikable villain.
Out of the whole cast, I think my favourite was the Mantodean (I refuse to butcher their name here). Despite the fact that it gave me creeps picturing this character in my head (I have a phobia for insects and mantis are some of the ones I get panic attacks for lol) I absolutely loved their presence in the scenes. I wish there had been more and I hope there will be more in the next instalment, because it deserves more.

There were a couple of scenes I thought too crude and maybe and another few a tiny unnecessary but overall, I really enjoyed the reading experience. It was an easy five stars (and if you know me, you know I don’t give five stars almost at all). I can safely say that this book deserved them despite the potential flaws, because the story and the pacing kept me engaged and hooked enough. My heart was really full, there was so much love and acceptance in those pages and I really devoured it. 

So once again thank you Netgalley for the review copy, despite the fact that I was late in putting together my thoughts as well as reading the book, but the delay still managed to make this reading experience one deserving a proper chef kiss!
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I couldn't get into it. The beginning confused me, but thats probs my nonsmarts. But I do think most would like it if it was two books instead of one giant book bc some defo get scared of huge books me included. So all in all I couldnt finish it but from what I did read it was great
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I was drawn to this book firstly and unashamedly by the cover and secondly the synopsis, unfortunately that is where it ends for me. 

Though I struggled on to continue to make it to the end of this book, it certainly was not an enjoyable read as I didn't want a DNF hanging over me. The more I carried on, it just became apparent that this was just not my cup of tea. 

At the beginning it seemed quite promising, though there were some unanswered questions about the start of the world, I assumed they might unfold but nothing seemed to materialize. The world that was built seemed to have started very well but fall flat in the long run. The alien races were of great interest and showed the effort the author had taken over it but it all just seemed to wither away the further I got into the book. 

Many thanks to Netgalley for this free ARC in return for this review.
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The Circus Infinite was one of those books that I have mixed feelings about. Fleeing from The Paragenetic Institute of the 9-Stars, Jes heads to the one place he figures they will never look for him; the infamous pleasure moon of Persephone-9. The universe Wong has created is magnificent, an open world sandbox that has taken present day issues and ideas and run forward thousands of years. Earth is long gone, humans spread across space and migrated to two different planets; Indra and Loran. Both of them vastly different from the other. Despite their differences they have kept the human need to colonise, with humans retaining their perceived superiority over alien species despite mating with them. As one character refers to humans being responsible for the most cross-species breeding in the universe. Of course, they also remain among the first to show their disdain for the mixed race offspring of such unions. Thousands of years has not removed prejudice from the universe and Wong deftly shows it at play in society throughout the novel.

One of the main ways is the sexuality of the protagonist, Jes and that is what makes The Circus Infinite is an interesting and important read regardless of its flaws. Jes is asexual and also an emphath. Wong uses Jes’ empath abilities to help describe asexuality to the reader. In a book with a romantic relationship most readers will be familiar with the language the author uses to describe romantic feelings. In The Circus Infinite Wong has to walk the reader through how emotions feel to Jes, how they appear as physical manifestations. For example, during a house party Jes refers to all the feelings of need as a type of monster trying to batter down the walls. Drawing on these vivid descriptions Wong develops a sense of how it feels to be asexual in situations where romance, and sexual desire are rampant or expected. While Jes obviously feels these in a heightened way as an empath, it still enables the reader to draw a parallel to uncomfortable experiences that they have had.

While the house party was a good example, as were other moments in the novel, one scene struck me as feeling unnecessary. It felt out of place and felt almost like the author was torturing the main character. The pleasure moon is described multiple times throughout the novel, it is no secret that there are pleasure houses and the like on it. But apparently it was completely necessarily to include a scene in one, and since the book is only from Jes’ perspective, you can see where this is going. It was an extremely painful scene to read as someone who is not asexual, and it felt completely unneeded in terms of saying “see this is how asexuals feel”. Instead, it just felt like it was playing to the crowd a bit too much for my liking. The book’s set on a pleasure moon so by golly we will have a scene in a sex club! It was just over kill.

Sadly, that was a bit of a theme in The Circus Infinite. The world building was solid, however, there was too much crammed into the plot and the book was trying to be too many things at once. Was it trying to be a space opera or science fiction pulp novel? Or a crime caper about found family and becoming your true self? Maybe it’s a superpower book set in a circus? On top of all this there are numerous side plots with the theme of changing perceptions, and while they were solid plots involving interesting characters, they were again, they just felt like too much being pressed into one book. There’s no information regarding whether this is a standalone or part of a series, the book ends in a way that either is plausible. I think this would have been better suited as a duology or a trilogy.

Despite having so many moving parts the plot is actually quite simplistic; a fugitive runs away from an evil scientific organisation, hides where he doesn’t think anyone will look but, surprise, gets found out anyway and then gets blackmailed. Simple doesn’t always mean a bad thing if there are twists and turns, and the way the synopsis is written I was expecting those. Unfortunately, The Circus Infinite wasn’t quite the thriller or the mystery that I expected. Instead, it’s more a novel about parties and raves.

“Pleasure” moon is a bit of a misnomer, and at least to me, means something entirely different to the atmosphere of Persephone-9. While there are pleasure houses, as mentioned, the emphasis is on hedonism and more specifically, the consumption of copious amounts of drugs and alcohol. I’m not a fan of either of these, and in real life intoxicated people are a source of great anxiety to me (re: previous trauma), so reading a book that is frequently filled with scenes of people doing just that is not a fun read for me 1. The author’s biography refers to becoming involved in the Burning Man culture and underground circus’ so this may very well be from his own experiences, which is fair enough. That being said, if the synopsis had said “party moon” I would have not picked this book up because I would have identified it as not being my type of read.

There is a chilling contrast between the party scenes and those of found family and the stark reality of what happened to Jes at the Institute. While this is a novel about a party lifestyle, it would be remiss to say that is all it is. These scenes are explicit, they are cold, scientific and terrifying. Wong does an excellent job of separating them completely from the joy of finding a home, of finding family. These moments will have you holding your breath, feeling your heart beat in your chest and only then will you remember they are flashbacks, that Jes has already escaped.

Another of Wong’s strengths is his world-building. The universe he has created is wonderful and interesting, the cultures of the alien races incredibly thought out especially the asuna. Their physical description is stunning, and I’m not going to say any more because it’s something you need to enjoy for yourself. I did feel that compared to the other alien races the asuna and the Mantodean were more developed compared to some of the others. Likewise, some physical descriptions were a bit confusing. Mantodean culture was described well, however, their physical appearance was confusing to me, and it was only after I noted the mantis on the book cover that I realised that what I had imagined was completely different to what had apparently been described. I also have no idea what a Bezan looks like. 

The Circus Infinite is a fun novel about found family with a caper twist and more importantly, it has an asexual protagonist and all round diversity. The problem for me was that despite these good qualities it was a bit too hit-and-miss in other areas, and overall it just didn’t make a huge impression on me. I felt that the emphasis on a hedonistic lifestyle overwhelmed everything else that was taking place in the novel, and it was hard to take things seriously when everyone was more interested in partying than anything else.
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I had so much fun with this book, and it made me so happy for a number of reasons. For one, not only did this book have ace rep, which I am always looking for and what primarily made me want to read this book, but it was specifically paromantic asexual rep, which is what I consider myself. I so rarely see this specific kind of rep, especially handled and explained so well. Jes, the panroace mc, was allowed to just casually exist queerly while still better explaining what his orientation was for readers who may be unfamiliar with it. There were also many side casually queer characters allowed to just exist in his vast world and it not be such a big deal to most people. The fact that almost everyone introduces themselves with their pronouns was such an amazing thing to have in a book, it made tear up. Another thing I adored was Jes' eventual romantic partner. He was such a sweetheart and respected Jes so much. The respect and love and family Jes found was so amazing. Which brings me to my third point, I love the fact that almost everyone always asked for consent before giving even the smallest of touches to Jes because they quickly picked up the fact that he doesn't like to be touched and they realize how special it is when he feels comfortable enough with someone to permit casual touches. And of course the found family aspect itself was phenomenal. The fact that they protected him and he protected them. TEARS. My last favorite thing that I immediately noticed was that it diverts from the usual path of lying. What I mean is, usually the mc will lie about something, for instance, why they are in this new place and essentially seeking refuge, despite the fact it could endanger the people already there and then it dogpiles into a web of lies that has to be untangled later. It diverts a few times, and each time, it was such a relief. This book was so great. I am so grateful to have. chance to review it!
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The premise of The Circus Infinite is very unique. The story follows Jes, after his escape from the "Institute." On the run, he finds himself hiding on a moon known for its nightlife, entertainment, and debauchery. Here Jes finds a home at one of the performing circuses. The story then focuses on Jes' time at the circus, his relationships with his fellow performers, a deal he makes with the casino owner, and his mission of evading the Institute. While I enjoyed aspects of the book, overall, it was a very slow read for me. I liked the focus on the circus and its acts, especially the inclusion of aerial arts (hoop and silks). I thought the author did a good job with the flashbacks; they added necessary background and helped the reader to fully understand Jes and why he was running away. The pacing of the book was my biggest issue. Some chapters felt too short and others dragged on. There were also certain plot points that needed more attention. Overall, I found The Circus Infinite to be a 2.5-3 star read.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

It took me a little while to get into this book but once I did I raced through it. Having representation of asexuality in literature is really vital, and Jes is a well-rounded character, as are the other members of the circus. I liked the way flashbacks worked in the narrative, and the found family element of the plot worked particularly well for me as I love that trope. Intriguing to see where this series goes next.
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I really like all circus-set stories so ‘The Circus Infinite’ definitely was my cup of tea.

I enjoyed the storyline, but it was the characters, and especially the protagonist, Jes, who for me, made the book special. It was a great ace representation, and I loved how deeply you could know Jes and how he sees and connects with people and the world here. 

As for the main story, at moments it felt very intense, but it was well-written and you grew to care about Jes and his friends throughout the whole narrative.
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The premise of this was fascinating, unfortunately the story itself didn’t ultimately land for me. I do appreciate and enjoy the Ace Representation though and will read something else by this author.
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Thank you #angryrobot for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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