Paul's Reviews > We the Animals

We the Animals by Justin Torres
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's review
May 03, 12

bookshelves: 2012
Read from April 29 to May 02, 2012

This was good, though I never felt fully invested. It races along with a lot of power and a lot of stylistic panache, though I never really got a solid idea of who any of the characters were; the three brothers never felt particularized, nor did they seem to be on any sort of trajectory. Plotwise, the book is pretty anecdotal, with most of the 2–3-page chapterettes beginning, essentially if not literally, with "One time we..." so that nothing really builds, event-wise. This changes just before the end of the novella (it's billed as a novel, I'm assuming, for marketing purposes), where the narrator experiences a sort of profound revelation, and while this is both powerful and moving, it's almost too powerful, in that it's not prefaced with any gradual development or character revelation that I could discern. In short, it almost comes out of nowhere. Again, the writing is powerful and the author never really falters--i.e. he does what he sets out to do--I just wish we were given a little more time with these characters, or were allowed to see them grow before instantaneously changing, becoming men, etc. I understand that speed and momentum and even chaos are important thematic concerns, but the structure of a book doesn't always necessarily have to mirror its thematic thrust. In this case while it adds something to the narrative, there's definitely a cost associated. This is a very quick read, and I think it could have been a little less quick.

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