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Elephant Moon

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  2,801 Ratings  ·  197 Reviews
Based on a true account, an unforgettable tale of
courage and compassion in the worst of times.

As the Second World War rages and the Axis powers threaten the whole world, the Japanese Imperial Army enters Burma and the British and Americans prepare to flee.

But the human legacy of the British Empire will be left behind in the shape of sixty-two Anglo-Burmese children, born
Hardcover, 300 pages
Published October 8th 2012 by Silvertail books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Feb 19, 2014 Cecilia rated it it was ok
Set in Burma during World War II, Elephant Moon focusses upon the plight of an orphanage populated by the children of mixed parentage at a time when tension was rife between the Burmese and their British colonisers.

The topic of this book is interesting, then - I would go so far as to call it a page-turner - and John Sweeney's prose is fluent and descriptive, so it's a shame that his dialogue and characterisation lets him down so much. The protagonist, Grace Collins, seems to be unable to do any
I found most of this book to be pretty basic or boring. Though I did enjoy the parts with the children and elephants. The children discovering the elephants was pretty magical.
J.C. Greenway
Sep 30, 2014 J.C. Greenway rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010s, wwii
This is a cracking tale, apparently based on a true story, but unfortunately John Sweeney doesn't manage to fully do it justice. The characters are very weak, with heroine Grace too good to be true and a bad guy who is 100% villain. Out of sixty-odd children in the school, only a few are even honoured with names and they fade into the background when not needed to push the plot along. Too much is told, not shown - with a lot of interesting back stories glossed over - and the relationships don't ...more
Gemma Wheeler
Jun 08, 2014 Gemma Wheeler rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and read it in less than two days-I couldn't put it down! Brilliantly written and would highly recommend!
Aug 02, 2015 Cassandra rated it it was ok
As somebody on Amazon said, this book can be described as "very put downable". It would have been great had the characters been expanded upon and the story not sensationalised. To me, it read like a screenplay, where they take a story and "flatten" it out so that only the biggest events take place in the film. It was meant to be a fictional testament to the struggles refugees in Burma had to face, but I felt as if it disrespected the genuine history by adding gore, violence and unlikable ...more
Paul Sheppard
Dec 24, 2014 Paul Sheppard rated it it was amazing
One if the best books I've read the year. A surprising page turner which had me hooked from the first page. I'm not going to do an in-depth review, if you have not read this book then please do, you may just love it as much as I did.
Avery Delany
Jan 06, 2015 Avery Delany rated it liked it
It's a shame that I could only give this 3 star's as the book held promise, but had so many downfalls.

Whilst the book picks up in the middle and really saves the experience, the beginning is a massive drag. As others have said, once you put the book down its hard to pick up again. Several times I almost gave up, but kept going out of curiosity and it was much easier once you meet the Jemadar.

I really enjoyed the middle of the book. I found many of the characters unlikable in the beginning, and
Sep 24, 2014 Lynette rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
DNF at 25%.
Here's the proof that getting the free sample from Amazon doesn't guarantee you won't waste your money.
I thought that sample was good enough to warrant buying the book, reviews are very good. But for me, to get to a quarter of the way through a book and still not be engaged with any of the characters means it's time up. Too descriptive on the scenes and settings and zero character development. Massive disappointment.
Amalia Gavea
This was a novel I really enjoyed on many levels. I had a vague idea of the contradictory reviews of the readers, but I seldom let negative opinions influence me when it comes to historical fiction, if I am really interested in the era and the subject.

I hadn't read any work of fiction or non - fiction, before I started reading Elephant Moon, about Burma and the region as a whole during the Second World War, so I was completely invested in the story. John Sweeney's writing is simple and beautifu
Apr 01, 2016 Christiane rated it liked it
Shelves: animals
At the hands of a gifted novelist this could have been a 5-star read because of the captivating premise.

As it is, the lovingly portrayed elephants and some brilliant descriptions of scenery are the only saving graces of this story. Without Mother and Oomy the book would have lost another star.

What makes it so mediocre are the human protagonists who are cleanly divided into a lot of noble goodies and one evil baddy and the stereotypes are all there : the plucky, stunningly beautiful, golden-haire
Jan 24, 2014 Lilly_fantastico rated it it was amazing
This is perhaps one of the best books I've read in a long time. By turns gripping and moving, not just because you know the story is true (or at least inspired by true events), but because the narrative is well-paced, seamlessly written, and the characters almost tangible. From the very first sentence, one is immediately transported into 1940s Burma, one can immediately conjure a full and vital image of each character. It's a cliche, but it's apt: "you're there".

Sweeney is as excellent a novelis
Stephen Crabbe
Aug 26, 2015 Stephen Crabbe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this novel was a wonderful experience. The author's supple prose is vivid and fluent, the narrative voice strong and authentic. I immediately liked and empathised with the main character, a young woman, and loved the depth and interest given to several secondary but important characters. Even several elephants, a group forming a central factor in the story, become fascinating characters as the author portrays their different behaviours. The historical period chosen for the tale presents ...more
Oct 06, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
Generally, I am not a great fan of WW2 literature - there is so much of it that it can become a bit tedious. However, this was a bit different, set in Burma, with the Japanese attacking and the Indians not sure which way to turn - should they throw their lot in with the Japanese to overcome colonial rule? The book narrates a tale based on fact, of an escape from Burma to India through the jungles and across the foothills of the Himalayas, in an old bus kindly donated by the British and then on ...more
Jan 11, 2015 Nicole rated it liked it
The war in Asia seems to be the theme of the month. The first third of the book is very well written with nice touches of detail in the descriptions. Things seem to have gone wrong in the middle and then completely cracked up in the end. I hate when writers abdicate responsibility for writing the ending of a story and just tie things up in a page. I kept waiting for terrible things to happen but it is all sort of too easy breezy. Still worth reading if only to stimulate an interest in more ...more
Aug 24, 2016 Anne rated it really liked it
ELEPHANT MOON, John Sweeney. BURMA, WWII when Japanese invade Burma, Malay Peninsula.
An interesting tale of moving half caste children out of Rangoon heading to India and safety from the Japanese. Along the way the troop faces major challenges which in part are resolved when they join with a teak merchant and his elephants whose great strength and size are used to advantage. A villain is added to create interest and tension, but IMO weakens the story.
A novel centred around the fall of Burma during the Second World War. Grace is a young teacher at an orphanage for abandoned half-Burmese children. When news comes that the Japanese are invading she sets off with all 63 to try and escape to India. What follows is a nail biting trek that includes trials, tribulations and elephants. This was heart stopping in parts and had me totally gripped throughout.
Jun 17, 2015 Karen rated it it was ok
Oh dear. I am sure there is a fantastic story to be told about the escape of Burmese orphans during WWII, unfortunately this isn't it. The author just didn't handle it well. The characters were one dimensional, melodramatic and unbelievable, even the elephants didn't fare well. But I finished it, which is a plus, isn't it?
Dec 10, 2014 Siubhan rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014, put-aside
I struggled through this book to a certain point - until the phrase 'love of her life' made me groan and fling my kindle at the wall. Huge disappointment - one dimensional characters, stilted set pieces all a bit hard work really for very little reward. I rarely put a book aside but I just felt this one simply wasn't worth finishing.
Bruno Falce
Nov 30, 2015 Bruno Falce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read a book based on a true story (related to war)...very touching from beginning to end and easy to get emotional (if you're like the ones who immerse yourself into the story).
I cannot imagine what it was living during such a time but this book really made the job! Highly recommended.
Josie Crimp
Jan 11, 2015 Josie Crimp rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book, based on the setting and the plot, but I found that the characters were too predictable, and I didn't really feel there was enough depth to the story. I'm afraid I got a third of the way in, then gave up and didn't finish.
Aug 30, 2014 Andrea rated it did not like it
Abandoned 2/3 way through. Tired of cliched characters. Early book in Rangoon interesting but becomes repetitive & full of people falling in love after 5 secs.
Jennifer Campbell
Mar 16, 2015 Jennifer Campbell rated it liked it
More of a 3.5
Mar 10, 2015 Allison rated it liked it
3 at the start, 4 by the end. 3.5 stars.
Sep 12, 2016 Nicola rated it did not like it
Great story very poorly told.
Dec 26, 2014 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this a lot. Looked at utube suggested and is great
Emmy Gregory
Oct 31, 2016 Emmy Gregory rated it liked it
I think the big problem I had with this book is that it's based on a true story... And I want to read about that true story, not a novelised version of it, because it sounds awesome. I'd pick up the autobiography of anyone involved in a heartbeat.

The problem is that as a novel this just isn't that good. It's very atmospheric in terms of setting but all the characters are flat. The main villain - one E. Gregory, no less - is boringly evil. None of the Burmese kids really have a personality: they'
Nov 26, 2016 Tristan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I agree with other reviewers that this book has potential. It could have been excellent. The story has so much scope: the plot could be endless, the characters rich and varied; yet, that is not the case. The plot plods along like an aged elephant. The characters are so flat they practically have their characteristics scrawled across their faces. I know that it's important to remind readers of who we're reading about but there was nothing to remind us of. The repetitions were just repetitions. ...more
Oct 23, 2016 suz rated it really liked it
Shelves: other-fiction
Note: This is not a Review. It's just an observation
I'm pecking away at my ignorance about war. This book helped me to look at war among nations with many borders, religions, and cultural traditions.
This seems timely as nations, including America, struggle to achieve peace at a time when the prospects of war loom larger. How will America deal with being a warrior nation and the world's 'peace keeper' as America is sometimes called? Is there any chance that this issue will receive enough of Ameri
Sue Thomas
Nov 10, 2016 Sue Thomas rated it it was ok
Set in wartime Burma, this tells the tale of the elephant men and a school teacher trying to save her students from the Japanese invasion.

This could have been a great book, as the story itself was quite interesting. However, the author sadly does not do it justice and you cannot really connect with the characters - the elephants are great though! This book also needs a good editor and there a plenty of errors in the text!

Disappointing and a missed opportunity as this could have been a really go
Margaret Drury
Nov 07, 2016 Margaret Drury rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A different sort of book

I maybe would have given the book 5star rating, but as it was different to what I usually read I didn't really havemuch of a comparison. The first section was a little slow but then changed pace. Thoroughly enjoyed the style of writing and will now try some of his works.
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John Sweeney is an award-winning journalist and author, currently working as an investigative journalist for the BBC's Panorama series. Before joining the BBC in 2001, Sweeney worked for twelve years at The Observer, where he covered wars and revolutions in more than sixty countries including Romania, Algeria, Iraq, Chechnya, Burundi and Bosnia.

In 1996, He was sued for criminal defamation in Fran
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