Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Water for Elephants (by Sara Gruen)

Or as Ian calls it, Like Water for Elephants. A bestseller I picked up at the airport, I think. With trepidation because I do not like books where Bad Things Happen to Animals and I knew it was about a circus. But it seemed like the type of thing I’d like; a well researched bestseller. And I’m not going to give away anything about the Bad Things, but I didn’t regret having read it for that reason.

I don’t know. It definitely wasn’t bad, I just really wanted it to be better. Gruen researched the hell out of it and incorporated a lot of real-life anecdotes about circuses and about the depression, but... the story somehow doesn’t feel real. The characters and plot were unconvincing. And I never could tell the difference between August and Uncle Al, nor did I understand why they needed to be two separate characters. The twist at the end was kind of interesting, but... overall it was a little predictable, a little pat, and overall just kind of average. Plus, again, the characters never came to life for me. And that was absolutely my biggest problem with the book.

Has anyone else out there actually read this?


Blogger Beth said...

I listened to it on audio. I have mostly forgotten it, but this is what I posted about it at the time:

I just finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. It was okay ... the elderly narrator was good, but I didn't like his sections all that much. I liked the depression-era main story much better, but hated that narrator. I hate narrators who emote too much. Just shut up and read the story.

I don't think this is a great novel by any means ... it's a little hokey and the writing is so wooden and cliched that I think I would have gone crazy trying to read this in paperback. Plus it is full of anachronisms, not just little things but entire attitudes and premises. But the story is fun and exciting and diverting, and I think this would be great for a road trip.

I liked it okay but I didn't think it was very good. If you get the distinction.

3:44 PM  
Blogger mo pie said...

I totally agree with you. It isn't very good but it's diverting. Wooden and cliched... yes.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

You posted at contents may be hot? why am i not getting any updates on that page....all I see is a post from waaaay back.

As for water for elephants - I enjoyed it. Perhaps I formed an attachment to Jacob b/c it made me think of my grandmother who is in a resthome.

Did you read Special topics in Calamity physics?

7:07 AM  
Blogger mo pie said...

Oh, the FTP server was broken for a while. I'll fix that.

I wrote about Special Topics (sort of) here: http://www.mopie.com/blog/2007/05/sepcial-topics-in-calamity-physics-by.html

10:48 AM  

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