Tory's Reviews > Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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Sep 16, 07

Read in September, 2007

This is a very good example of why one should have no expectations when going into a book. I wanted this book to be great. I thought this book was going to be great. A depression era traveling circus and all that entails? Awesome! The author’s voice being likened to Mr. Irving? Awesome! The fact that damn near everyone LOVED it? Promising! The only other circus book I’ve read was GEEK LOVE, and holy shit. Awesome! All of this lead me to believe that I was about to be blown away.

But, it wasn’t awesome. And I hated it because it wasn’t. Normally, I probably would have just thought, meh- good, but not great. But it wouldn’t have evoked such distaste had I not expected it to be brilliant.

Given the concept, there was so much room for fantastical wonderfulness that this story lacks entirely. All the bits that almost got there- the mischievousness of the elephant that didn’t understand English, the moonshine paralysis, a hippo in formaldehyde, murdering elephants- weren’t the authors ideas, but anecdotes from her research. How fucking dull.

It would have been a million more times gratifying had it been written as non-fiction, because the details were good. And even interesting. But the fiction part… basically, is an unimaginative love story with boring, cliché characters that I couldn’t stand and a Hollywood ending.

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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Susan I couldn't agree more. I just don't understand all of the rave reviews about this plodding, superficial, predictable treatment of a subject so rich in nuances to explore. I, too, am a huge fan of Geek Love, a novel with SO much more resonance.

message 2: by Tory (new) - rated it 1 star

Tory I'm glad that someone agrees with me. Because I am still hearing how wonderful this book is.

There was a lot of POTENTIAL, but it was not great. At all.

message 3: by Ann (new)

Ann Thanks for your comments. I am into Chapter 5 of this book and saying to myself, "What??' This book does not live up to the raves at all.

I'm quitting it. Must move on to something more palatable and believable.

Offal? Maggots? Stinking buckets of animal entrails?

Not for me.

Claire Monahan Ann, you are right to quit. I can't believe I actually spent hours reading this book. And it never got better.

Kate I picked up this book because it was grouped with "Geek Love" as well, and "Geek Love" was so good, how could this one not be? Ughh. I feel like I was duped by a shelving mistake...

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