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The Shape of Water

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  15,625 ratings  ·  2,245 reviews
It is 1962, and Elisa Esposito—mute her whole life, orphaned as a child—is struggling with her humdrum existence as a janitor working the graveyard shift at Baltimore’s Occam Aerospace Research Center. Were it not for Zelda, a protective coworker, and Giles, her loving neighbor, she doesn’t know how she’d make it through the day.

Then, one fateful night, she sees something
Hardcover, 315 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Feiwel & Friends (first published February 2018)
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Anna Monsters in general, and the types of creatures that appear in our media, the things we're supposed to be scared of, can always be traced back to the …moreMonsters in general, and the types of creatures that appear in our media, the things we're supposed to be scared of, can always be traced back to the anxieties of the culture that created it. Godzilla, Mothra, and the other large creatures born from radiation poisoning are the embodiment of fear from a nuclear war. Jurassic Park dinosaurs are based on the average person's fear sparked by the huge boom in medical research (cloning, GMO, vaccines, etc.). Zombies embody the loss of individuality, the fear of communism and becoming just one of a "mindless horde". Aliens are the fear of the unknown and unknowable, the same reason eldritch Lovecraftian monstrosities are scary. And the creature from the Black Lagoon and its similar minded mates in the 50's, which serve as the inspiration for this character, have... an uncomfortably racist history, representing the white man's fear of "monstrous, inhuman men" (Yikes(tm)) violently snatching away the "innocent, pure, white women". And by the end, all of these creatures either surrender, are subdued, or die. (Mostly at the hands of a white man holding up the status quo.)

The creature's alien nature IS the platform for its character, the main premise: knowing its exact origin (well, beyond it being a nebulous blanket that alludes to classic 1950's monster movies- "somewhere far away") would diminish that. In fact, it might be best to think of the creature's existence not as that of a "character" in the most strict sense of the word, but as an allegory to those who are in some way different from "the norm", who are "silenced", those who make the contemporary Western mainstream nervous- immigrants (like Del Toro himself for instance), LGBTQA+ people, disabled people, people of color, and women with any sort of agency.

The creature's origin is kept intentionally vague: what matters is that even though it's form is different, unknown, alien at a glance, if one bothers to hear its voice, it is just a person with thoughts, feelings, desires. While imperfect, by understanding, befriending, helping, and even loving the creature, presenting it as someone sympathetic and worthy of affection and protection rather than seeking its destruction like it was the norm in stories this one is inspired by, it directly alludes to the source material, and the fact that such cultural anxieties that demonize certain people based on ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, or gender, are pointless.

It's not a fluke or a choice made to score "diversity points" that the creature is sheltered by a Black woman, a gay man, and a woman who's disabled, poor, and orphaned at a young age- the creature's identity is as vague and ambiguous as the shape of water (see what they did there?), and this in general is a story about acceptance, understanding, and the solidarity that exists among the differently disenfranchised. It's all about empathy without questioning why, which is a beautiful and important sentiment that isn't just a "mainstream social issue" and cannot be divorced from the story.

So, TL;DR: No, it doesn't explain it, but it doesn't need to.(less)
Susan Says "Developed from the ground-up as a bold two-tiered release — one story interpreted by two artists in the independent mediums of literature and fi…moreSays "Developed from the ground-up as a bold two-tiered release — one story interpreted by two artists in the independent mediums of literature and film..."(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.90  · 
Rating details
 ·  15,625 ratings  ·  2,245 reviews

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Jolene Haack
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 150-2018
Husband: You're already finished that?

Me: Yup.

Husband: Didn't you start it today?

Me: Yesterday.

Husband: Still! Was there fish sex?

Me: Yeah. (gentle readers it was not graphic)

Husband: SERIOUSLY?!?!

Me: It's about social outcasts! About seeing someone as they are, in a way that no one else sees them!

Husband: Yeah but still.

Me: But he's a man!

Husband: STILL.

Me: He's a man, babe.

Husband: ...............still
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
Woman falls in love with Aquaman

That's how I had described this book in my TBR not knowing much about this story and.... meh close enough.

I would categorize this book as Magical Realism and full disclosure... not my jam. I liked the characters, I liked the story okay.... until the end when the magical realism stuff starts happening.

To be completely honest, I'm not sure I would have finished it if I hadn't listened to it as an audiobook!

Will check out the movie and update after!
Sophia Triad
“Man should be better than monsters.”
“Ah, but who are the monsters?”

I have always had a soft spot for misunderstood monsters who are unreasonably feared. The key work here is “unreasonably”. When their life or the life of their beloved is threatened of course they are allowed to become vicious.

And it’s not just me. I am sure that most of you know that there is a huge number of fans that enjoy PNR books i.e. paranormal romance, monsters’ erotica, erotic horror, fantasy books for young
Charlotte May
"We did this to it. We dragged it up here. We tortured it. What's next? What species do we wipe out next? Is it us? I hope it is. We deserve it."

Now...I went into this knowing that it would be pretty odd. All I'd heard about this book was that it involves a woman who falls in love with an amphibious man/creature. Definitely up there on the strange scale.

The first 100 pages or so were pretty slow, I wasn't invested, and almost gave up. We have 2 main POVs, that of Elisa - a mute janitor working
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
The book is awesome, as long as you remind yourself to stay in the moment. The fantasy. The UNreality. Because, if not, you will be thinking weird shit, like me. See, I'm a weird shit thinker. I'll let you know where my twisted mind went in just a second.

First, about the book. It has multiple POV's and is about an amphibious man-like creature that the army found in the Amazon and immediately captured to study it in the lab. It sounds about right.As we learned in E.T., they want dissect the crap
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

THE SHAPE OF WATER is a strange book. For a variety of reasons.

1. Dual film/book release, which, to my knowledge, has never been done before.

2. It’s only 312 pages long, but it has a cumulative 130 chapters (split into four sections).

That’s an average of 2.4 pages per chapter.

In the past, I’ve knocked an entire star off my overall rating of a book if a mere portion of it felt choppy and chaotic b/c short chapters. And before TSoW, I considered a ten page chapter to be s
Tina Haigler
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 1/2 stars!

This book was beautiful. I can't think of any other way to describe it. The story, the characters, the words themselves. It was all beautiful. The best way I can think of to describe the way this book made me feel is I'm a shoreline and the words in this book are the waves in the ocean, coming and going, each time leaving something, but also taking something with them when they leave.

The book is split into four parts. Parts one and two are mostly storytelling, atmosphere building, a
4.5 Stars.

....After finally deciding to watch the movie (that I enjoyed MUCH more than I thought I would) just had to checkout what Guillermo del Toro did with the book....and so glad I did!

....The setting is Cold War era America 1962, and unlike the flick, the novel begins with a human monster....Richard Strickland....assigned a dangerous mission in the sweltering jungles and rain forests of South America to locate and capture a legendary new life form, i.e. Gill-God...Man-Fish with supernatura

Mohammed Arabey
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Brilliant Novelizations...

For a Magical Movie..

Of Hope and Acceptance and Love
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

I hate that that’s my reaction to this book, but good god almighty was it a slog for me. And it sucks double because I obviously read it wrong being that the handful of my friends who have already read it really enjoyed it. I don’t know what happened. I mean, the story is one that’s been told a time or twelve before. . . . .

“Man should be better than monsters.” “Ah, but who are the monsters?”

But that’s not something that ever
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jenna by: LaDonna
Shelves: fantasy
This beautiful and beguiling novel is yet another case of the book being better than the movie. I enjoyed the movie and thought it was well done, but this book? Absolutely loved it! The Shape of Water is a brilliant story and even more brilliant story-telling with unforgettable characters. I'll be adding Guillermo del Toro's other books to my tbr list. ...more
Bark  |  Ladies Of Horror Fiction
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
If you don’t know the story yet, The Shape of Water is about a Sea God that is captured by an evil man who considers himself a Jungle God. The Sea God is taken to a laboratory where he is held captive and subjected to torture by human monsters who want to destroy this thing they don’t understand. A mute janitor named Elisa shows him kindness and brings him eggs and music and they fall in love.

If you’ve ever had a little secret crush on The Creature from the Black Lagoon this is the book that was
Aug 01, 2020 marked it as maybe-later
I can't get this description out of my mind...

Noo...this is not my description....I read this in another meme
BUT for some reason, I just can't get this image out of my head*shivers*
Don't get me wrong..I have seen the movie...& the movie is fabulous ...BUT even while watching the movie "the creature" creeped me out...
I would tell what the creature actually is because I have seen the movie BUT I don't want to spoil it

My biggest concern is...that h
JV (semi-hiatus)
"She holds him, he holds her, they hold each other, and all is dark, all is light, all is ugliness, all is beauty, all is pain, all is grief, all is never, all is forever."

A moving, mesmerizing, uplifting, and beautifully-written narrative, The Shape of Water plunges us into Occam Aerospace Research Center, a government facility in Baltimore, where a mysterious Amazonian creature (Deus Brânquia) is being kept for further study in the deepest recesses of the laboratory. Richard Strickland, a dom
Robin (Bridge Four)
4.5 Stars

Buddy read at


This was a beautifully told story about so many individuals that just didn’t fit into the time or place they were born into and how each touched the others life. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The prose is beautiful and it helped me connect to each of the characters in a different way.

It makes me want to protect Elisa, our mute heroine that finds little ways to defy authority and be the woman she is. She is a good friend to those she cares for and so easy to love in
When I first saw the previews for The Shape of Water I remember thinking that it not only looked different, but it looked weird. Weird is my thing. I love weird. I embrace it. Well, when the book showed up on my GR Newsfeed I about shat myself out of pure excitement. Not only is it a book, but it is written by Guillermo del Toro himself. We all know the man can make movies, but a writer too? Surely this was going to be a perfect storm of creative genius that I would fall hopelessly in love with. ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Described as one half of a “bold two-tiered release”, The Shape of Water is the companion novel to the Guillermo del Toro film of the same name. But what exactly does this mean? Curiosity piqued, I decided to do some digging around, and found out that the idea for a story about a mute woman falling in love with an imprisoned river monster actually came to author Daniel Kraus when he was a teenager. In the years that follow
MissBecka Gee
Extremely fascinating & slightly disturbing.
I'm curious to see how this translated to film.

I watched the movie and was highly disappointed.
The book unfolds at such a luxurious pace that the rapid fire movie was jarring.
They left out so much that it was confusing for my husband (who didn't read the book) to follow along and figure out what's what.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
As a novelization, this is far more 2001: Space Odyssey and far less Force Awakens.

Truth be told, most film novelizations don’t break much new ground, the worst are mere rote retelling of what viewers saw on the big screen. Some can provide a better backstory and a more detailed character development, the kind of elements better adapted for the printed page as opposed to film.

Guillermo del Toro, one of the coolest directors in recent history, got the idea for his academy award winning film from
Montzalee Wittmann
Oct 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Shape Of Water was a strange book I got from the library on Audible. It started out fascinating but very gritty and rough. Then it varied between long boring periods and interesting scenes. I just couldn't hardly stand the slow bits at all! I really loved the premise of the strange story but the boring parts just drug it down for me. The narration was excellent however. ...more
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Buddy read with the wonderful weekly UF Wednesday group over at BB&B.

To love,
In its many forms and shapes.

The dedication of this book sums up so perfectly just what this book is about.
It’s about being different, struggling in the box the world tries to force you into because it can’t understand and accept your difference and finally breaking free to fight for those you love.

I absolutely loved the beautiful writing, the amazing characters, their depth of feelings whether it was f

Wow, this was really well done. I wasn't really sure what to expect, having never read anything by Guillermo del Toro. I have always enjoyed his dark cinematic story telling and his unique way of portraying intrinsic lessons and observations about life. I enjoyed the movie that is kin to this book but the book was phenomenal. The descriptions of mind and atmosphere were beautiful and scary to behold. The characters were very well done and it was wonderful to have the chance to be within their mi ...more
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 1018
Poetic, beautiful, far more emotional than the movie. Some scenes were different than the movie but still, this is one of the few times where both book and movie have amazed me equally!
Sara Saif
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it

I was beyond excited for this. Ever since I saw the trailer. I haven’t seen the film which only made me more curious for it. Pan’s Labrynth and Pacific Rim are two of my all-time favorite films. I love them with all my heart and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen them. This looked to be similar and it was, the Guillermo Del Toro visual aesthetic was leaping off the page, the imagery was vivid in my mind, its sharpness boosted by the trailer. Strangely though, you don’t see the acto

Ardent Reader
The story line feels very unique and amazing.
Its very odd and weird at the same time...
A fish-god-man falling love with a mute girl.... 💖
I'm so excited to watch the movie.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I picked this up at the library on a whim, not knowing what to expect. I’m delighted to say that it was truly enchanting.

It’s 1962, at the height of the Cold War. Deus Brânquia (the Gill-God), an amphibious man, is chased by the US government, with plans to study him for Cold War advancements. Richard Strickland, the villain of this story and a soldier obsessed with his assignment, is able to capture him in the Amazon. The creature is brought to the Occam Aerospace Research Center where it is to

I thought Guillermo del Toro took me for a ride in the movie theater. Little did I know that the true trip would be found in his written words. With a book, inspired by its movie name-sake, I did not expect the book to offer much more than what I saw on the big screen. BOY, was I wrong!!

Experience a connection beyond words.

The Shape of Water, the novel, allows voices to be heard, that are usually ignored. It tells the stories that are often regulated to the sidelines. It mak
My second movie-to-book-adaptation. Very satisfactory read (both). Why am I surprised that both (movies) were made by the same guy!

I vote for more such movie-to-book things! There are so many that I would love to read as a story. If all the powers that be is/are listening i.e.
Mar 05, 2018 marked it as to-read
congratulations on the oscars! 👏🏼🎉💧🏆
Dana Al-Basha دانة الباشا
What a weird, magical, romantic movie! The colors (green and red) reminded me a lot of the french movie Amélie, but it's much less innocent. I thought that Eliza Esposito would be a Mexican who met the monster as a kid, and he marked her to know her later, and by the end she will be like him an Amphibian, and her voice would return to her... that didn't happen though, I guess my imagination is even wilder than the movie.

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READ THE BOOK OR JUST WATCH THE MOVIE???? 6 76 Oct 13, 2020 02:14AM  
Fox Book Club: Best Fantasy 39 821 Dec 07, 2019 10:09AM  
Disgusting 16 168 May 03, 2019 09:35PM  
Goodreads Choice ...: The Shape of Water - Jan 2019 11 99 Feb 08, 2019 07:09AM  
Play Book Tag: The Shape of Water, by Guillermo del Toro, 5 stars 3 17 Jan 31, 2019 04:45AM  
Around the Year i...: The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro & Daniel Kraus 1 9 Jan 14, 2019 01:42PM  
Fiction Fanatics: August 2018 - The Shape of Water 3 15 Aug 22, 2018 02:42PM  

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Guillermo del Toro is a Mexican director mostly known for his acclaimed films Pan's Labyrinth, The Devils Backbone, Crimson Peak and the Hellboy film franchise. His films draw heavily on sources as diverse as weird fiction, fantasy, horror, and war. In 2009, Del Toro released his debut novel, The Strain, co-authored with Chuck Hogan, as the first part of The Strain Trilogy, an apocalyptic horror s ...more

Articles featuring this book

A medical student grappling with the afterlife. A misfit demigod who can turn her rivals into monsters. An office drone clocking in...
68 likes · 25 comments
“When he looks at me, the way he looks at me... He does not know, what I lack... Or - how - I am incomplete. He sees me, for what I - am, as I am. He's happy - to see me. Every time. Every day.” 33 likes
“But I can't be alone, can I? Of course not; I'm not that special. Anomalies like me exist all around the world. So when does an anomaly quit being an anomaly and start being just the way things happen to be? What if you and I are not the last of our kinds, but one of the first? The first of better creatures in a better wold? We can hope, can't we? That we're not of the past, but the future?” 27 likes
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