Basically, one of the best books I have ever read. And I've read a lot of books.
Jacob Jankowski is one exam away from a degree in veterinary science when his parents are killed in a car accident. With nothing left for him, his life is thrown into turmoil and while moping along the railway tracks trying to escape his life; he makes a split-second decision that will change his life forever. He stows away on a train carrying Benzini Brother's Most Spectacular Show on Earth, where he meets Marlena, a beautiful circus performer, and Rosie, a misunderstood elephant.
This book has everything you could want from a book. It has a quirky old man, a magical circus, corruption, beatings, illness, death, mystery, crazy people, a stampede, and, of course a love story. But it isn't any old love story - it doesn't overwhelm the story and leaves room for the other, minor, unconventional love stories to shine through.
The prologue is enough to have you sitting on the edge of your seat - unlike a lot of books that take awhile to lift off.
Now the movie. I was a little bit nervous about watching the movie after I picked it up at the DVD store and all it had on the back was a blurb about the love story between Jacob and Marlena. I packed a bit of a tantrum in the store - "That's not all it's about! What about Rosie?! What about crazy August?! What about old man Jacob?!" But my sister assured me it did not focus solely on the love story and so I rented it and breathed a sigh of relief when it began with old man Jacob.
The movie did not follow the story exactly and even cut a few characters, but it worked. It totally worked.
I was also worried about not being able to get past Robert Pattinson as vampire Edward Cullen, but he surprised me. He is so much more than Edward Cullen, and I hope that role doesn't stick to him because he's actually a pretty great actor and really became what I imagined Jacob to be in the book.