Wow, I am suprised to hear so much negative about this book when over all I thouroughly enjoyed it!! And such short responses at that...
I was instantly sucked into this story. The mystery surrounding the circus at the begining made me itchy to find out what was inside, and the development of the characters was intrigueing. It was hard to get into the swing of the story at times due to the timeline bouncing around, but once I figured it out, I actually enjoyed that a bit too. Have a chapter that jumped ahead a year, and then the next jumps back, gave me some insight into how the events of the previous chapter effects the outcome in the future.
Celia's father is the first character you start to get to know, and although Celia is also introduced at the begining, she developes more as the story progresses. I grew steadily to dislike Prospero and his obvious disdain for his daughter as he uses her as a pawn in his game. Although he seems confident that she will win the challenge, it would appear that his confidence is less in her and instead in himself and his ability to best "the man in the grey suit", Alexander. I also grew to dislike Alexander as well, although not as much because at the end of the story he is given the chance to somewhat explain what the challenge represented, and he seems at least somewhat regretful to have played his games with their lives. It would have been interesting to hear what Celia's father thought of this final match being a stalemate, and if his ego had suffered any. In any case, he was a prominent player in much of the book, and depite my lack of sympathy for him, it was strange to see him fade with no final words or thoughts.
I found that the love dilemma was not the focal part of the story as much as it could have been, and merely set the stage for why the events unfolded as they did. Several other characters within this story had little or nothing to do with the love Celia and Marco developed for each other. I hugely enjoyed getting to "know" Widge and Poppet. Tsukiko is still a bit of a mystery to me, and I will have to revisit the chapters to sort her out a bit more.