**spoiler alert** I liked Water for Elephants, but mostly due to the atmosphere, rather then the characters. I've always been interested in Circuses,...more**spoiler alert** I liked Water for Elephants, but mostly due to the atmosphere, rather then the characters. I've always been interested in Circuses, and I've always been interested in Depression Era America. So this book seemed like just the right thing for me.
As far as presenting and interesting look into Circus life in the 1930s, the book did an amazing job. The author clearly did their research and based a lot of the events of the book on real history. The way the circus crew interacted felt very realistic, and it was a treat to read about the training of the animals.
However, for as great as the historical side of things go, the plot itself falls a bit flat. It is essentially a "run away to join the circus" plot, and it does do some good as far as showing how outsiders are treated by circus culture. However, the main character is quite flat. Everything comes far too easy to him - he wins over everyone in the circus rather quickly, and everyone who doesn't like him is painted as a complete monster (at least, until he wins them over...). In the end, he gets the girl, he gets the elephant, a happy life, and to go join the circus again. Everyone that was cruel to him is handed a karmic death. It all feels cheap, because while he worked hard, he didn't deserve this perfect and happy an ending. He was a dull character that got a dull fairytale life in the end.
Water for Elephants is real written and has some great details on circus life that I'd never heard about before. I didn't particularly like the main character, but the supporting cast and the history was more then enough to keep me around. I hear that it's being made into a movie, and I like the book enough that I'm interested in seeing it.(less)
I have mixed feelings about Color of Magic. On the one hand, I loved the characters and the world is interesting. On the other hand, it seemed rather...moreI have mixed feelings about Color of Magic. On the one hand, I loved the characters and the world is interesting. On the other hand, it seemed rather devoid of a plot and it wasn't nearly as funny as I'd heard. Pratchett is still a gifted writer, and I'd like to read more in the series.(less)
I so want to like Gaiman's books, but once again, I just couldn't get into this one. The premise (Gods of all religions are bopping around America, ha...moreI so want to like Gaiman's books, but once again, I just couldn't get into this one. The premise (Gods of all religions are bopping around America, having been brought to the country by immigration) is an interesting one, and certainly something I'd love to talk to Mr. Gaiman about. However, the hero is incredibly dull and has no agency, making it difficult to actually care about what's going on in the book. The side characters are interesting, but not nearly fleshed out enough. The plot feels contrived at points, like the characters are being moved from point A to point B just because Gaiman needs the story to move, not because it makes sense for the characters to do. The climax moves far too fast and seems more like an afterthought then an actual climax.
American Gods is not a terrible book, but it's not a fantastic book, either. It suffers from mediocrity and a lot of wasted potential. An interesting read if you know a lot about mythology, though (especially Norse and Egyptian) as it does make you think.(less)
This is a great book. It's a wonderfully dark and surreal look at the fakeness of Hollywood and the destructiveness of people. It deals with sex and d...moreThis is a great book. It's a wonderfully dark and surreal look at the fakeness of Hollywood and the destructiveness of people. It deals with sex and drinking and child actors and cock fights and just general crazies. The main characters are sad, pathetic people who have deluded themselves into following the 'American Dream', and you feel sorry for them. But at the same time, they disgust you. The novel slowly builds, at first showing them fairly normal, and then heaping on flaws and weirdness until you get to the finale. Which is horrifying and amazing.
This book isn't really the best for light reading, and some people may just find it too weird and dark. I personally love it, though. It's powerful, in the way it makes you feel sort of sick about America and the 'American Dream'. And the best thing about it? It was written in 1939, and a lot of the crazy behavior described in the book is still around today.(less)