Colleen's Reviews > Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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Apr 05, 11

Read from March 18 to 28, 2011

I'm so sorry to disappoint the many family members and friends that recommended this book to me but...I didn't like it. Let me start off with a disclaimer. I do NOT like circuses. I think they're creepy and abusive of animals. So this book had one strike against it going in. Since there are so few things I liked about this book, I'll start with those. I liked the voice of OLD Jacob Jankowski. It was genuine and funny. Since I'm a middle-aged woman, I can't know for sure, but my Dad thinks the author succeeded in capturing the angst of an old man and I would agree. The author clearly did her research...too well, as is often the case (gotta get all that hard-earned information in). So, on to the bad...There just isn't much of a plot here. Boy joins circus, travels across country, little "circusy" things happen periodically. This might have been better off as a non-fiction account of a traveling circus. The attempted plot, I assume, was Jacob's growing and dangerous love for Marlena. But the relationship never really developed--it was lust, not love. They hardly ever had a conversation, at least not that we were shown. And Marlena was a shell of a character--pretty on the outside, nothing on the inside. She cast lots of lustful glances Jacob's way and seductively twirled her foot but I never heard a substantial thing come out of her mouth. I guess my point is--what did Jacob see in her? The writing was utilitarian--the author's past as a tech writer clearly shows. Once again (I'm getting so tired of saying this), good idea, bad writing. I had mixed emotions about the ending. The ending, for young Jacob, was tied up a little too tidily and conveniently. A couple of characters who would have been a burden to Jacob and his fantasies of a life with Marlena were neatly dispensed with. Another character was messily dispensed with but in a very unbelievable way. The ending, for old Jacob was also not plausible, but, I have to admit, it, as well as the twist at the end, brought a slight smile to my face!
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Megan oh! yuck! I hated this! I don't even remember why because it was like 4 years ago, I think maybe the writing...and the plot...haha, which is basically everything about a book. Anyways, not to burst your bubble. You may love it. It'll be interesting to see if this is another one of those few we feel differently about.


Colleen If you read my review, you can definitely see that we're in agreement on this book


Megan Oh, good. Love your review. I was afraid I was being too harsh and you would end up loving it! I can't believe this is going to be a MOVIE. The previews act like it is this great epic story; don't know how they're going to pull that off. This is the kind of book people love if they never read because they don't understand there is better stuff out there. I guess that sounds snobby, but seriously, the only people I know that like this read like a book every two years. ha. Now I almost want to read it again to see if it's really as bad as I remember; already sold my copy a long time ago!


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