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The Animators

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  11,082 ratings  ·  1,606 reviews
In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of the party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious tale ...more
Hardcover, 369 pages
Published January 31st 2017 by Random House
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Ellen McMahon I think either the e-book or paper format would be a good option. And the book definitely has quite a millennial point of view, however the themes cer…moreI think either the e-book or paper format would be a good option. And the book definitely has quite a millennial point of view, however the themes certainly transcend generational appeal. There are a lot of references to drug use, so that might be a deterring factor. But if you're open-minded and want a wonderful, character-driven story that champions female friendship, I would highly recommend giving it a go. (less)

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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  11,082 ratings  ·  1,606 reviews

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Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
this is a straight-up monster of a book.

it’s like one of those carnivorous plants that secretes a delicious sticky nectar to lure in its prey which, once adhered, can be feasted upon at the plant’s leisure. it’s one of the most immersive books i’ve read in a long time, and i was utterly ensnared, but while i was devouring the pages, i could feel the story getting under my skin and digging into my brain where it’s going to stay for a long time.

i’d heard good things about this debut through the g
Diane S ☔
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have never been a comic book lover, not in the past and not now. Graphic novels? Have only ever read one. Animation? Can take it or leave it. So why did I ever pick up, this book? Goodreads, a few strong reviews from friends I trust and it sounded different. Took a chance that turned out to be a big win, win.

Tow friends from art school, a unique partnership, Sharon Kisses and Mel Vaughn, Avant garde, B movies, a graphic animated story of Mel's life. These girls both have difficult back stories
3.8, reluctantly rounded down

Oh boy, I was looking forward to a taste treat. Everyone who likes the same kind of candy bars I do raved about this book, which is about two edgy young cartoonists, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses, who team up and become famous and face huge obstacles along the way. When you run across a name like Sharon Kisses, how can you not be immediately enthralled and expecting the best?

What I thought while eating the first third of the candy bar:

Chomp. Right away I ran into car
I need to recover from this one.... a story with terrible lows, another book I had to stop reading and take a break from. But what a unique out of the box story and what a talented debut. About the intense and heartbreaking friendship of two girls, who produce animations... The Animators: Mel and Sharon. Who live an unconventional life, especially Mel with a sort of self-destructive character. Can't do anything else but give it five stars. Out of this world. I really have to organize my thoughts ...more
Jennifer Masterson
I'm late to the party but I'm so happy that I went! This book was awesome! I mean so great! Sharon Kisses, yes Kisses, and Mel Vaught made me laugh and they made me cry! This book did what every reader is looking for. It. Made. Me. Feel! All the feels!!!

I listened to the audio version. Looking for a good audiobook? This is a hot one! Alex McKenna brilliantly narrated this novel! When she read the voices of Sharon's friends and family in Kentucky she had me laughing so hard I was rolling on the
Elyse  Walters
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
BOOKS are GREAT THIS YEAR!!! Viva-la-melty! Many wonderful debut novels...
and *Kayla Rae Whitaker* deserves to be on the list with the great new authors to read!!

If you read this book quickly - it stays with you -it's a joy ride. If you read it slow...
---back up ---and cherish the nitty-gritty- "Frotched" and "Hee Haw" moments, it's a
legitimate hangover feeling ....."Wakey wakey, eggs and bakey".

Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses meet in a College art class...then had drinks at a bar together with
Angela M
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it

There is so much contained in this story that I'm having a hard time knowing where to begin. It's the story of two young women who meet in college and form a partnership to make animated movies. Of course it's about so much more than their art and the artistic process , but their careers and calling in life , provide the backbone of their story. Yes, it's about art, the artist, how an artist's work may be shaped by her past. But for me the strength of the book was about trust, the depth of frien
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

““The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.” Pablo Picasso

Kayla Rae Whitaker’s debut novel is exceptionally good.

When Sharon Kisses and Mel Vaught are in the first moments of their friendship, it seems so fragile, so fraught with their individual tensions and angst. Inwardly, after checking out each other’s art work in class discussions,
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
4 high stars. The Animators is one of those big novels full of things I love:

-The narrative is original. For a long time, I really had no idea where the story was taking me, but I kept being impressed by the layers of complexity that were added as the story took a few unexpected turns.

-The setting is great. The author is from Kentucky and has lived in New York, and she integrates both settings really well into the story.

-The characters are complex. The two main characters -- Sharon and Mel -- wo
I'm sure you have heard the saying 'Don't judge a book by it's cover'....and that statement applies 100% to this book. To be honest, I figured it was all about cartooning, graphics arts, and drawing and I was not interested in that. But I read a few GR friends reviews who loved this one and I added it to my list. Then Norma mentioned this one for a Traveling Sisters read and I was in. And I loved it! I was so happy to read this one with Norma, Brenda, and Lindsay.

The Animators is about real life
Larry H
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I'd rate this between 4 and 4.5 stars.

"From age eighteen on, I had a partner, a kindred spirit. I had a friend. Someone bound and determined to keep me from the worst in myself."

Sharon Kisses leaves her rural Kentucky home to be a scholarship student in visual arts at a liberal arts college in upstate New York. A few weeks into one of her art classes, she meets Mel Vaught—brash, unabashedly talented and ambitious, and fighting the demons of her own childhood amidst the swamps of Florida. In many
Iris P
The Animators: A Novel

I received a free advance e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

★★★★ 4 ½ Convincing Stars!


Whenever artists inject personal history into their work, whether through a novel, a stand up comedy routine, or a movie, I often wonder what kind of impact if any, that decision has had in their family dynamic.

This is one of the undercurrent themes of this novel: Who owns the righ
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
I just finished The Animators, and I all can say is that I am emotional mess. I got so attached to the characters in this book that I am having a hard time letting go.

Sharon Kisses (yes, Kisses is her last name) has always felt like an outsider. Growing up in a small town in the Appalachians in Kentucky, artistic Sharon does not fit in with her family. When she receives a scholarship to prestigious Ballister College, she sees it as her chance to escape and pursue her artistic abilities. Balliste
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm a reader. An enthusiastic, passionate one for the most part, and trying to be a better one every day. There are lots of books I completely fall in love with and champion, saying how great a read it was. But every now and again, there's a book that so grabs me and speaks to me and says things that I feel may have sprung from my own brain, Athena style, and is so original and fun and heart-wrenching that not only do I love reading it, I wish I had written it. On some level, I feel like I wrote ...more
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
3.5 stars

This was a powerful and emotional book that revolves around the power of true friendship. It completely took me by surprise a few times - I wasn't expecting the emotion and intensity it held over me. The writing is excellent, but the storyline gets dark and depressing. The plot took turns that caught me off guard and I read things I really wish I could erase from my mind, however, they fit well into the tale. I will warn readers that there are some highly sensitive scenes involving chi
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
Melody and Sharon build a strong friendship after meeting in college. They both grew up in dysfunctional families lacking emotional support. After graduation they developed a successful partnership working as film animators. Mel is outspoken and bold while Sharon is reserved and cautious.

Ten years later in New York City their first full length feature is an award winner. The film focuses on Mel’s teen years growing up in Florida. After the movie release, they receive a prestigious grant giving t
Andrew Smith
Apr 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
At school I sat next to a friend who drew all the time. He was so gifted; he’d end up with mini cartoon figures all over his books. And calligraphy too – he wrote in this artistic flowing style. I’d never seen anything like it before. I asked him once where he learned how to do this stuff. He just shrugged and looked at me as if to say ‘I don’t know; I just do it’. I was always envious of this ability, it was something he had in spades and I had none of at all.

Sharon and Mel can draw. They meet
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Traveling Sisters Read Review with Norma, Brenda, Lindsay, and PorshaJo

THE ANIMATORS by KAYLA RAE WHITAKER is an emotional, heartbreaking, profound, and a thought-provoking novel with a multi-layered storyline about a friendship that starts off with two small town flawed misfits that come to terms with their past through their animations and take their stories to the bright lights of New York City.  This story creeped up on us and blindsided and consumed us with how real this story was and had o
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Breathtaking, stunning debut novel! It is amazing! It is tragic, heartfelt, tender and brazen all at the same time. I absolutely loved this! I loved the journey it took me on. I loved that I had no idea where this book was headed, but went along for a wild ride that had me laughing and crying. There were so many areas of gray and missing pieces of information that I was itching to learn more about along the journey. These holes were so often filled in just when you thought you might not get the ...more
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it
First off, lemme say thank you to NetGalley, Random House, and Kayla Rae Whitaker for the opportunity to read this book in advance. This was my first crack at using NetGalley, and I'm hoping it's the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

There are so many layers to The Animators, so much more going on in its pages, plenty of surprises that kept the pages turning for me. I also think that was s pretty good debut, and I really enjoyed Whitaker's writing style. She created some very memorable char
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Infinitely readable about how our home/past shapes us, the power of a close female friendship, and probably the best descriptions of the creative process I have seen. A bit too heightened and/or unbelievable at times, which for me served to distance me from the story rather than pull me in. I always find this in debut novels more than other novels, from authors who don't quite trust that their story is enough without the incredibly dramatic moments. But actually, it is the quiet moments and smal ...more
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
How silly it is to assume that what we’re dealing with is not something that will, in turn, deal with us.

Sharon and Mel met while attending the same art program in college and have worked together ever since. Ten years later, their careers have taken off with Nashville Combat, an animated feature based on Mel's childhood. The success exposes cracks in their relationship. Mel's antics are taking a toll on the friendship and Sharon feels like she constantly has to babysit her. When Sharon's ca
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well, f***ing hell, what just happened here?

(5 hours later)

The Paris Review:
"Can I ask how the novel has affected your marriage? It’s so extreme, what you’ve done. It’s like you invented a new kind of marriage, where half the couple is transparent and has no secrets."

Karl Ove Knausgaard:
"I didn’t think of that when I was doing it. I didn’t think of the implication at all, in that sense. I was so frustrated that I didn’t foresee the consequences. I thought, If the consequences are that she’s lea
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Animators is a great story about two friends, Sharon Kisses and Mel Vaught, who meet in college and end up working together for several years. I really enjoyed this story although it was much deeper and darker than I expected it to be.

The story is told from Sharon’s perspective and covers a wide range of topics including the complexities of relationships - friendships, romance and family, work - being passionate for it and working through challenges that arise, both internal and external, a
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Like oil and water, Mel and Sharon would appear on the outside to be the types that don't blend together. But the more we get to know these friends, they seem like an old married couple in just how balanced their relationship is and how suited to each other they are.

Quirky Mel: Raised in Florida by a prostituting mother who died in prison. Mel and Sharon have made a very successful animated film of Mel's crazy life, resulting in a grant to do another.

Sensible Sharon: Grew up in a dysfunctional f
Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
Traveling Sister Group read with Norma, Lindsay, and PorshaJo

Our full Traveling Sister reviews can be found along with Norma and my reviews on our sister blog:
4 Reasons to Love The Animators

1. Bosom Friends. Have you ever had, or longed for, what Anne Shirley calls a “bosom friend”? If so, you’ll love watching the friendship develop between narrator Sharon Kisses and her business partner, Mel Vaught. In many ways they are opposites. Lanky, blonde Mel is a loud, charismatic lesbian who uses drugs and alcohol to fuel a manic pace of life. She’s the life of every party. Sharon, on the other hand, is a curvy brunette and neurotic introvert who’s always fa
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mel Vaught & Sharon Kisses; Sharon Kisses & Mel Vaught

This book- and these women grasped me by the heartstrings and never quite loosened their grip before I was closing the back cover. Two women-- both from broken homes and low income families, both revolutions of the other. They meet in an animation class in college, and so begins the animation duo to last a fictional lifetime. They start with putting Mel's prickly past into storyboards and produce a smash indie hit Nashville Combat and so begi
Andy Marr
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Exciting, lyrical, moving and unpredictable.

A genuinely brilliant novel.
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Kayla Rae Whitaker lives in Louisville, Kentucky. THE ANIMATORS is her first novel.

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  Here at Goodreads, we've noticed that a funny thing tends to happen when we start talking about audiobooks: The same few titles get...
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“You know, the voiceover continues, it would be nice if we were defined, ultimately, by the people and places we loved. Good things. But at the end of the day, there's the reality that we're not. Does the good stuff really have the weight that the weird stuff does? What makes the deeper impact—all the ridges and gathers—on who we are? Do we have a choice?” 5 likes
“Your life is the people who fill it," Mel says. "And nothing's good without them.” 4 likes
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