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The Shape of Water

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  371 ratings  ·  67 reviews
"Spollen interweaves elemental, evocative images of what is formless and boundless--water, air, grief, death--with what is solid and limited-earth, objects, human love and forgiveness. This enchanting novel starts quietly, draws the reader in and weaves a seductive spell that holds until the last page."
--Kirkus (starred review) "I had come to know silence well during those months aft/>
Paperback, 305 pages
Published April 8th 2008 by Flux (first published April 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  371 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Aug 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: introverts
Shelves: ya, realism, cover-love
I picked this up pretty much at random because I thought Ken Wong's cover was lovely. It turned out to be about a teenage girl having trouble dealing with the death of her mother, which is not my usual interest, but it was extremely well-written. It was not merely about coping with loss, which is rather over-used theme in YA lit, but also a consideration of the difficulties of being a deep-thinking, introverted person when those around you are not. Magda's father and aunt love her, but she lives ...more
Sarah Neufeld
Feb 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Some of the most amazing imagery I've ever run across in anything; it had me hooked from the first paragraph. Ms. Spollen takes concepts I was only vaguely aware of before(different qualities of silence, the subtleties of water and atmosphere) and has painted them so vividly that, after reading the book, I found myself looking at things in entirely new ways. It felt like growing up speaking a language with words for only "light" and "dark", and then having someone introduce the colors to me. The ...more
I really love this cover.
I just wish the book lived up to it. I'm only a couple of chapters in, but I'm seriously considering abandoning this book because there's so much about it that I just cannot stand. I'm going to rant about it in list format.
1. Okay, I guess I should have seen this coming, what with the title and all, but this book is WAY TOO heavy on the allusions to water. I get it, water is a big deal. That doesn't mean every sound or image has to be compared to water in som
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I haven't encountered writing as talented as this in a long time. Anne Spollen writes in the language of the soul. The way she describes things.. It's hard for me to imagine someone writing this who did not go through what this poor girl went through. How can Spollen not be a teenage girl who's mother recently died? She writes about grief and bordering insanity so well that I felt like I myself was going through it. Spollen has an immense gift. Some might say she's too wordy, too descriptive. Bu ...more
Brigid ✩
Sep 12, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This review is also featured on Tasty Books!

Actual rating: 2.5

15-year-old Magda's mother has recently died. Now Magda must cope with the loss, while also trying to solve family secrets and find her own place in the world––all the while dealing with several surreal elements that have leaked into her mind.

I'll be honest … I picked up this book because the cover is freaking gorgeous. There's no denying that. Seriously, the back of the book could have said "POOP POOP POOP" and I still would have read the book anyway. Becaus
Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
The Shape of Water is rich with elemental metaphors that connect the underlying themes of loss, grief and recovery.

Magda is cast adrift after her mother’s death, floating dreamily in a neglected beachy community in the outreaches of Staten Island, NY she thinks of as the Drift. The Drift is the wild place she and her mother existed, with little to connect her to The Standard, the controlled “safe” area of her community, a place she feels she can never gain acceptance to. The book is
Oct 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Jan 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
The book The Shape of Water is about a girl named Magdelena who after her free-spirited mother’s untimely death, is plagued by the most severe forms of grief, self-lost, and mental disorientation in the forms of depression, social anxiety, setting fires to create joy, an unhealthy obsession with the ocean, and, after reading the book and coming up with my own diagnosis, an acute form of dementia in the form of seeing things that aren’t really there and communication with the family of fish that ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Aug 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Reviewed by Randstostipher "tallnlankyrn" Nguyen for

Magda's life is slowly bursting into flames, as it changes for the worst. The ones most important to her are departing from her life.

First it's her mother who passes away. Then it's her best friend, Julia, who moves away, and then her father is slowly becoming disconnected as he tries to move on. For Magda it is just too soon, but her father has quickly found someone else to fill her mother's shoes.
Katiek adver123
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: beach lovers, teens, poets, intelligent folks
Recommended to Katiek by: My bff, Kyra
I found this book to be my favorite YA book so far in 2008, and probably one of my fav YA books ever. The prose was lyrical,and as I read it, I felt completely swept into Magda's world. It's not a typical YA in that it focuses on her one world, without romance, and it speaks more of her internal life than her external life, at least in the beginning.
I do understand why some people might not like this book right away. It does seem weird, but it's weird in like a creative way. When I first starte
Niki Smith
Sep 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
Beautiful writing, if a bit slower in pacing than many teens will be used to. But I love how she strings words together.
Jun 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved the author's characterizations. All of the people in the story are very real and relate-able, esp. the main character. ( I can't remember her name.) A surprisingly good YA book.
Aug 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Read this not realizing it was a teen fiction, needless to say it was very good, painfully bright.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reading this feels like slowly descending into madness. It's just really fucking strange and I really like it.
This book was an interesting find for me. I was wandering the library, and I don't know what compelled me to pull this random black spine from the shelf, but when I did the cover just captivated me. Seriously, take a good look at that cover. It's freaking gorgeous (although, I have to admit what made me take this lovely home was the fact that the protagonist's name is Magda . . .).

Okay, so firstly, there's no mistaking that this book deals with water themes. Every other sentence has
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
TLDR: Quickly became a favorite. A must read if you love water, the ocean, if you feel drawn to it. A must read for anyone feeling lost or adrift.

I loved this book. I grabbed this book at Goodwill because I thought it was the book the Guillermo Del Toro film was about but it is definitely NOT. I’ve never seen the movie but one of my coworkers was talking about it and how it weirded her out so naturally it jumped to the top of my TBR list. However this book is about a teenage girl nam
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have never read a book that so beautifully explores and exemplifies what it is to inhabit a place of disconnect and unattachment and otherness. I've often been in that place where I feel like I don't understand some basic part of interaction that everyone just innately kbows that Magda lives in for almost the entire book, and I deeply appreciated the exploration of that place. The Shape of Water also approaches grief and recovery and mental illness very respectfully without romanticizing or be ...more
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This novel helped me let go of some painful and shameful things I had a difficult time with in my own life that I had, including being able to confront my ex-husband who abandoned me with a letter that was difficult to write, since he avoided all of the important matters essential to ending a marriage and I was able to finally speak up to my father about anger that I had never been listened to without him cutting me off mid-sentence and that was the one main thing I was angry about. This novel c ...more
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was randomly displayed in my school's library, and I picked it up after being impressed at the cover art. I then read the short summary on the back or the inside or whatever, and was instantly interested. So I checked it out and began reading it immediately.

I have to say, this book was completely amazing. With me, I'm usually into reading sappy romance books, but this book caught me by surprise. I completely loved how the whole book was about the main character growing as a
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was beautiful, whimsical, and untouchable in places. The thing that stuck out to me most was the narration; it was solid, fluid, and downright imaginative.

This book also strikes me as a grieving book, which may explain why I felt a little disconnected with it. Maybe if I had read this book during a different time, I would have connected stronger with Magda. On the whole though, I burned through the last 2/3s of the book in an afternoon, despite my break in reading.

Also, I love the co
Gemma F
Jan 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I personally prefered her second novel to this. But it was still an interesting book and I would love to read her other works as well- when they are published.
Oct 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Astrid Weisend
Feb 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This was an interesting book. I remember that I read this at a time were I was going through a book every day or two, but this one took me several weeks. This book is a piece of art that took time for me to figure out. It was not a fun read, but it was interesting.
Apr 17, 2015 rated it liked it
This book took so long to get into. Spollen's overly descriptive prose, bizarre fish, and super long chapters made me reluctant to continue after reaching chapter two. But I stuck with it, and, much to my surprise, I started to get involved in the story.

Magda is a truly odd character. She comments on every detail, she obsesses over "the standard", she turns into a giraffe during many conversations, she has conversations with a small family of fish in her head (view spoiler) ...more
V Mignon
Jul 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: cam, ya
While this book started out really strong, it petered out pretty quickly. There are far too many epiphanies that come to the characters far too easily. Not only that, there are some serious issues that these characters are dealing with that are resolved far too easily. The problems that Magdalena, Hannah, and Andrew are dealing with are problems that last a life time. They're problems that can't be won over by meaningless phrases about "trying" and "moving on." Not only are these revelations cli ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it liked it
I think I bought The Shape of Water book a little while after reading Saving Francesca. Since I loved that one so much, and this book had the same basic idea(teen girl needs to get on without her controlling mom around, lost her old friends, ect) I gave it a go. Oh, and, I thought the cover was awesome.
To be honest, this book was depressing. Maybe the fact that I read it while rain was pouring down and the sky was gloomy and I was alone in my room with no friends made it even more depressing, but still.
Oct 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lyrical
I really wanted to LOVE this book. Loved the artwork, borrowed it, and loved the writing. That's the thing about this book. Spollen has really vivid and lyrical writing that's beautiful to read and hear in your head. She makes allusions to water (duh) and nature in a very enchanting way. There's alot of beautiful writing, but there's no story.

All the characters, except maybe (that's a very small maybe, bee-tee-doubleyew) Magda, are very flat and unlikable. The story of Madga's grief and how rel
Heather ~*Undercover Goth Queen*~
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 22, 2011 rated it liked it
It was the cover that initially got me hooked, followed by the tone of the book - whimsical and meandering and feather-light. But the more I read the harder it became to get through. It was becoming *too* incomprehensible in places, to the point where I was getting confused as to what exactly was going on. The narrative majorly focuses on the protagonist and her thoughts, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it left me stranded in internal dialogue with no connection to the outside world wit ...more
Tayler K
Mar 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, mental
It's not so much the style of the book as the words that I love. There are just ways things are said and put together that I would never think of, that are so strange and beautiful and they just made me pause, because they aren't expected. I've actually kept track of parts I felt were especially noteworthy, and I'll add some here on goodreads, but there are also small things that are just neat, just two or three words put together. It's just nifty.

I might have to read thi
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I was born in Staten Island, New York and grew up by the Atlantic Ocean. In the first grade, I turned over a book and saw that a human had created it. I asked my teacher how people got to write books. She said, "They read all the time." I took this very, very seriously.

I went away to New Paltz College and after graduating, I got a teaching job there and stayed. Teaching adverbial claus
“When you sit in silence long enough, you learn that silence has a motion. It glides over you without shape or form, exactly like water. Its color is silver. And silence has a sound you hear only after hours of wading inside it. The sound is soft, like flute notes rising up, like the words of glass speaking. Then there comes a point when you must shatter the blindness of its words, the blindness of its light.” 58 likes
“I heard silence, silence infinite as the bottom of the ocean, a silence that sealed.” 28 likes
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