Quin's Shanghai Circus

Quin�s Shanghai Circus - Edward Whittemore (I got an ebook copy from the publisher through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

This book was a pretty weird one, in that I couldn't honestly tell at first whether I was liking it or not, nor where it was going. At the same time, those very impressions (or lackthereof) may be what contributed to my appreciating it in the end, as paradoxical as it sounds. Reading it, seeing the story unfold, was like working on a jigsaw puzzle whose final picture I didn't know, yet wanted to see no matter what. I always found myself coming back to my tablet to get to the next chapter.

It's probably not a novel for just everyone. Some of the themes it deals with expose all the crass of human nature, through conflict between Japan and China and severe misdeeds from some characters(rape, murder, mutilation...), and such scenes are often depicted in a graphic enough way to be considered as disgusting. I admit those weren't my favourite parts.

On the other hand, what I found fascinating were the relationships fitting within each other. This is basically what the novel is about: relationships above everything else, how they got shaped through events, what led to certain people to work together or become friends or lovers... The characters often had features that made them unforgettable, even bigger than life—something that may not have been convincing in another story, but felt somehow oddly logical and normal here.

"Quin's Shanghai Circus" is definitely a strange book, sometimes disturbing, sometimes shedding light, on the contrary, on what's still good in humans. "Read at your own risk", I'd say.