Rachel’s review of Water for Elephants > Likes and Comments

325 likes · Like
Comments (showing 1-50 of 72) (72 new)    post a comment »

message 1: by Ann (new)

Ann The Marlena character *was* incompletely and unconvincingly drawn-- made all the stranger by the fact that this book was written by a woman. Also agree about the character's excruciating descriptions before realizing what was happening. Also unbelievable was the working-class male characters speaking so readily and eloquently about their feelings at that point in history. The book needed a strong editor--the sequence of events bothered me, repetition bothered me, anachronistic use of certain idioms bothered me, minute detailing in some places and messy sketches elsewhere.


message 2: by Kathleen (last edited Sep 14, 2008 12:57PM) (new)

Kathleen agreed the book was chock full of narration issues. i would even go as far as to say they 'overwhelmed' the good parts aka the historical detail not involving any of the weak characters


message 3: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Thank you! I had read so many good -- enthusiastic -- reviews of this book, I hesitated to comment on it. Although I got caught up in the story/plot, I, too, felt most of the characters weren't fully drawn (especially Marlena). And I agree with you wholeheartedly about the sexuality issue. I found it odd that the one romantic sex scene in the book was the only one handled well -- when Jacob and Marlena finally get together, the description of that event is left private, undetailed. But we get all the gory details of the cooch tent and Walter's scene in the stock car. Why do authors feel they have to write "gritty" to make it real? Who needs those pictures in their head?

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who disliked this aspect of it!


message 4: by texast (new)

texast I felt the same way about Marlena! And I thought the description of Jacob in the nursing home was too cutesy. I kept picturing all the old people as cartoons.


message 5: by Eva (new)

Eva
I could not even finish it. After about 2/3 of it, I cared enough only to thumb to the end and read the resolutions (of the 1930's story and the present day story), both of which were equally unbelievable. The writing was just so rambling and long-winded and overly detailed. The characters were flat, and the plot was somehow both too dramatic, yet uneventful.


message 6: by Mari (new)

Mari I agree! This book is so popular with book clubs and I would not reccommend it to anyone. Most of the story made little sense and I especially agree with the comments about Marlene. I could not identify with the events because I did not identify or like the characters.


message 7: by Barry (new)

Barry Another agreeing writer here. .. has anyone figured out why the old man was so loudly certain nobody else knew about elephants because they said they carried water for them? Mediocre writing. Terribly predictable and pat ending.


message 8: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Good question, Barry. Chalk it up to another flaw in the narration, I guess. To be fair, it has been awhile since I've read it, so maybe there's an answer? But I wouldn't hold my breath.

I'm so glad I wasn't alone in disliking this. Even now, a couple years later, I get annoyed thinking about this book and hearing all the people who rave about it.


message 9: by Melanie (new)

Melanie I'm glad to be reading very honest reviews.


message 10: by Cindy (new)

Cindy I'm with everyone else...I didn't get what everyone was raving about. I thought maybe it was me, or what was going on in my life, and kept going because I did wonder how it ended!


message 11: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca I haven't finished *listening* to the book...I opted doing it audio during my work commute as opposed to reading it. One thing I found most realistic so far is how the is the narrator. having been a caregiver for my late dear father-in-law for several years, I can assure you many older people are like this.


message 12: by Rachel (last edited Mar 29, 2011 05:38PM) (new)

Rachel Rebecca wrote: "I haven't finished *listening* to the book...I opted doing it audio during my work commute as opposed to reading it. One thing I found most realistic so far is how the is the narrator. having bee..."

Really? That's sad. In my personal experience, I find it hard to believe that all old people inevitably become mean-spirited & bitter. I guess I was fortunate enough to have several grandparents and elderly mentors who were kind, gentle, humorous people. The ones who became negative/a different person only became so through the denigrating disease of Alzheimer's.


Cassi aka Snow White Haggard So glad other people felt the same way about Marlena.


message 14: by Izzie (new)

Izzie Driftwood That sums it up perfectly.


message 15: by Kristy (new)

Kristy M I really didn't find the old guy "super" mean-spirited. I found him frustrated by his circumstances. Anyone that has visited an old age home for more than 10 minutes should be able to understand how this could be the case. Especially in someone who has so much energy for life.
The sex elements were there as a part of realism. They were included so she would be seen as "writing like a man" they were included because it was part of how the circus was at the time. I imagine these were some of the real stories she gathered from circus people that she mentions at the end of the book. She didn't merely want to right some made-up from thin air romance novel.


message 16: by Megan (new)

Megan Agreed!!!


message 17: by Mish (new)

Mish I agree with the statement about the sexual references - they were unnecessary and "overwhelming" when compared to the rest of the story. Also didn't like the old Jacob - he seemed quite childish in his lack of grace. Perhaps there should have been more reference to his life with Marlena following the circus.


message 18: by Emiline (new)

Emiline "Look, I can write like a man: men think about sex all the time!" I felt the SAME thing about this author. And, incidentally, Audrey Niffnegger. Thanks for the very well-thought out review!


message 19: by Magen (new)

Magen I completely agree and it looks like many others do too. I felt like the book dragged on. I kept waiting for something at least slightly unpredicatble to happen but never did. I think the reviews got me hyped up for something good but left me dissapointed.


message 20: by Bianca (new)

Bianca I have been reading this book for over a month and I just can't finish it. It's way too slow for me! I was nearly halfway through the book when I thought, "Where is the elephant?" And I didn't care too much for Marlena as well. She bored me along with the book itself. I'm still going to try and finish this book just because I don't like leaving a book unfinished. :/


message 21: by Carol (new)

Carol I felt it was rather predictable. I had the same feeling about the "old" Jacob, too. They seemed like different people.


message 22: by Casey (new)

Casey I just read this book last week, and I agree with ALL of your points...couldn't have said it better myself!


message 23: by Carol (new)

Carol Casey wrote: "I just read this book last week, and I agree with ALL of your points...couldn't have said it better myself!"It took me so long to get to this, and after all of the hype, I was a bit disappointed.


message 24: by Anne (new)

Anne I agree with Bianca.


message 25: by Carol (new)

Carol Bianca wrote: "I have been reading this book for over a month and I just can't finish it. It's way too slow for me! I was nearly halfway through the book when I thought, "Where is the elephant?" And I didn't care..."I thought the same thing. And to tell the truth, he didn't ever get into enough detail about the water for the elephant.


message 26: by Rachel (new)

Rachel It's so nice to know I'm not alone in my distaste for this book! Whenever I tell people that I didn't like it, they look at me like I just kicked a puppy. I do wonder, however, if the movie might be good only because a lot of my issues were narrative/writing-related and might be fixed via a visual medium.


message 27: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer I thought your review was spot on!


message 28: by Zainab (new)

Zainab Al-Sammak Glad to know am not the only one who dislike it !! =D


message 29: by Kelli (new)

Kelli disappointed but curious to see if I had correctly predicted the ending! exactly!


message 30: by Rosey11 (new)

Rosey11 I agree about Marlena. I couldn't care less about her character. I was so much more drawn to the Jacob/Camel/Walter relationship than anything else.


message 31: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten I just finished my review and saw the same points here about Marlena. I did say the sex made in inappropriate for high school -- but I think it was actually true in parts...Sara researched this book meticulously, and it shows in the details that some found long. I actually loved the book despite the stereotypes. I found it a window into a sad period of history, and a frightening attitude about animals and the working class being expendable. THAT I think was very real back then, unfortunately.


message 32: by Erica (new)

Erica i also opted for the audio book, i think that helped to get me over the narration humps...loooong road trip! lol Marlena was a flat charactor, i was more drawn to the stories involving the animals than some of the main charactors. Good tention was built with Rosie, her story broke my heart.

Jacob in the nursing home was an incredible story...again maybbe the audio helped because the narrator sounded authentic. i ffound it to be realistic for people who had been "forgotten" in a nursing home. My mom was a registered nurse and worked on a geriatric ward for a number of years and Jacob dreminded me off some of her stories.

Anyway, i enjoyed the audio book...i unerstand what people are saying and i tbink the points are valid, ut as a whole the story engaged me


message 33: by Lola (new)

Lola I agree with everything you said, but I did NOT finish this book.


message 34: by Erin (new)

Erin I totally agree with your comments about the sexual content. Gross. And listening to it as an audiobook made it even worse


message 35: by Brandy (new)

Brandy Shark Agree on all your points. I'm not against sex scenes or sexual content in novels, but I do want them to be written well.


message 36: by Amanda (new)

Amanda "she looks good in pink sequins" made me laugh... he does really talk about the sequins quite a bit :)


message 37: by Dianne (new)

Dianne although i did enjoy the book i felt a little let down by the ending.What happened to Marlena ??.How did Jacob end up in the home???..A few loose ends i felt...


message 38: by Andria (new)

Andria Rotherham I really enjoyed your review. I did thoroughly enjoy the book, but felt the "sex" scenes were not necessary and didn't add anything to the story.


message 39: by Danielle (new)

Danielle W Funny that you kept reading to find out how long he stayed on the circus. The prologue told us - 7 yrs.


message 40: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Danielle wrote: "Funny that you kept reading to find out how long he stayed on the circus. The prologue told us - 7 yrs." Yup, guess I missed that! I listened to this on audio, so it's harder to "flip back" and find details on audio.


message 41: by Daniella (new)

Daniella Is this a good book"?


message 42: by John (new)

John Braine I find it bizarre that you think the sex in this book was "grotesque".


message 43: by Mish (new)

Mish John wrote: "I find it bizarre that you think the sex in this book was "grotesque"."

I think "grotesque" (odd, ugly or absurd, bizarre) is a good description of the sex in the book.

I think it's bizarre that you think it's bizarre that the sex in the book is bizarre!

It just seemed out of place for the content and style of the story.


message 44: by John (new)

John Braine I just can't remember anything odd, ugly or absurd about the sex, even if it was a bit perfunctory and gratuitous. Seemed quite regular to me, it wasn't exactly 2 girls 1 cup.


message 45: by Mish (new)

Mish John wrote: "I just can't remember anything odd, ugly or absurd about the sex, even if it was a bit perfunctory and gratuitous. Seemed quite regular to me, it wasn't exactly 2 girls 1 cup."

I'd not heard of 2 girls 1 cup before - have just seen the clip and will probably have nightmares now!

The sex in the book is certainly not extreme but I don't know why it was included - didn't make any sense - like you said it was gratuitous.


message 46: by Brandy (new)

Brandy Shark The sex in the book is certainly not extreme but I don't know why it was included - didn't make any sense - like you said it was gratuitous.

I'm not against sex scenes in novels (or film), but in this book, the sex scene was poorly written, and all other references to sex (masturbation, and the whole deal with Barbara) were sloppy, and just over-the-top trying to sound like a stereotypical male.


message 47: by Mish (new)

Mish Brandy wrote: "over-the-top trying to sound like a stereotypical male"

I think you have something there - it was ill-fitting - I had a bad feeling as him as an old man too - perhaps too much a stereotypical grumpy old man?


message 48: by Brandy (new)

Brandy Shark I think you have something there - it was ill-fitting - I had a bad feeling as him as an old man too - perhaps too much a stereotypical grumpy old man?

I was not very convinced that I was reading a story that was really being told by a man. I could tell that it was a woman trying desperately to sound like what people think a man (especially a young man who is a virgin) would think.

Few authors can successfully pull off writing the first person POV of the opposite sex, and sadly, Sara Gruen failed. Horribly.


message 49: by Mish (new)

Mish Brandy wrote: "I could tell that it was a woman trying desperately to sound like what people think a man (especially a young man who is a virgin) would think. "

That must be it.

I felt that way about a few scenes in "The Time Traveller's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger.

It's clear that the jarring effect is because it doesn't fit.


message 50: by Mariah (new)

Mariah Lujan I agree on the narration..bleh! I think if the author had given more of a background on Marlena,she would have been more relateable..disappointed that such a static character was the heroine..hopefully this author will get better as time.goes on


« previous 1
back to top