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3.60  ·  Rating details ·  3,054 ratings  ·  255 reviews
Laura and Tyler are two young women who have been tearing up the city streets for ten years, leaving a trail of angry drug dealers and spent men in their wake. Now Laura is engaged to be married and her teetotal classical pianist fianc, Jim, is away overseas. Tyler wants to keep the party going but Laura is torn between the constant temptations provided by her best friend ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 18th 2019 by Canongate Books (first published May 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,054 ratings  ·  255 reviews

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Paul Bryant
May 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This unexpectedly wonderful (and please note extremely vulgar) novel is being bandied around as “Withnail with girls”. That’s the quote on the front. For those who do not know the cult 1987 British movie Withnail and I you should know that Withnail, a skeletal out of work actor, exists in only three conditions; first is drunk, in which he says things like

We've gone on holiday by mistake.

Or (whilst driving)

Look at this : accident blackspot! These aren't accidents, they're throwing themselves into
It is 4º in Brooklyn right now—record-breaking, life-threatening (sez the mayor!), tooth-rattlingly cold. When I walk my poor little pups, the pee arcs out of them already in icicles. I'm a big fan of winter, but this is preposterous.

So I did the only sensible thing: I canceled all my fabulous Saturday-night pre-Valentine's party plans, laid in provisions, roasted a giant panful of veggies, and read a whole book, cover to cover, while eating too much chocolate. It was kind of a fabulously
So, I finally read this, after two years of it hovering near the top of my to-read list. It's hard to explain why I didn't make a stab at it before now - something to do with the weight of expectation, I suppose, and perhaps something to do with feeling I needed to be in the right mood or frame of mind. In any case, a holiday seemed like perfect timing. I thought, after all this waiting, I might merely like it, which was in itself a dismaying prospect, but no, I loved it. Here's what I wrote in ...more
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘You know how it is. Saturday afternoon. You wake up and you can’t move’

Laura is caught between two worlds. One the one hand, she is engaged to Jim, a concert pianist with a budding international career, and a nice flat in the centre of town; on the other, her best friend and housemate Tyler is an uninhibited force of nature, ‘by turns many things: nemesis, ally, co-conspirator, master of persuasion’. Laura is working on a novel, Bacon, about a priest who falls in love with a talking pig, but
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, 2015
Originally posted at

Let me start off with a bit of a warning. Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth) is not for everyone, and it is definitely not for the faint of heart. (Mom – you’re not going to like this book…..) Honestly, I am not even sure how much I like it. I mean I do like it, I really like it… but it’s kind of terrifying. It’s like someone took my early 20s and put them on crack and ecstasy and then flipped it all around til all I want to do is vomit. And that’s
Jan 31, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Instead of Animals, Emma Jane Unsworth's novel could have been called Insufferable People. I couldn't stand the characters. They were annoying and irredeemable. And my tolerance for "unlikable" characters is high; difficult characters are often some of my favorites. But I hated this novel.

Animals is narrated by Laura. She lives in Manchester, England, with her American best friend Tyler. Laura and Tyler have been partners in crime for ten years, drinking liberally and doing lots of drugs. The
"It was ok", as a 2 star rating. I think, perhaps, I read this too soon after The Animators, another novel centred on female friendship. I really enjoyed the writing style here, but I think the narrative and, most importantly, the friendship between Laura and Tyler got lost somewhere along the way. It's vulgar and chaotic; I think it could have been a bit more subtle and ended in a less rushed and predictable manner. Both of them are obnoxious to the extreme, and the scenes where they were ...more
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mekhala Pande
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Way I see it, girls are tied to beds for two reasons: sex and exorcisms. So, which was it with you?"

The coming-of-age tale of our two anti-heroines opens with this wonderfully strange scene and you're hooked.

Laura and Tyler are two women immersed in a mutually-assured-destructive and highly co-dependent relationship with each other fuelled by a zealous love for alcohol, hard drugs and late-night raucous adventures.

However, our narrator, Laura is at a crossroad in her life now, as she tries to
Nov 05, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have no idea what this book was about.
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two women careen through life. This book is a visceral celebration of the joys of a great extended bender, but also of the pathos the hangover that ensues. Loved it.
'Shall we get another drink?' I said.
'Yes, more drink. More everything. There's a party going on not too far away if you fancy it. New friend of mine. An artist. I've got something in my pocket.' I looked at her. Of course: the whole conversation had been an elaborate preamble. Tyler
was good: talking about parties made you want to party. I felt like it by then--I felt as though (oh, the justifications, they come like flying monkeys through the window) getting lost somewhere together might be
Amanda Gegg
Having found myself in many a situation not too dissimilar to Tyler and Laura - albeit notably less extreme - I found that 'Animals' was everything I expected it to be but in some ways a complete surprise.

I was absolutely blown away by the artistic yet abstract prose, which was clearly thought out with the utmost strategy to define these characters' personalities despite the whirlwind of their drink and drug-fuelled lives. This is definitely a book that makes you want to put pen to paper and
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book features some really funny moments and was generally a great read. Its humour didn't take anything away from its emotional depth and dealings with conflicting relationships. Also, as a Manchester resident, I really enjoyed its references to the city and nightlife.

My only real criticism would be Unsworth's writing style. Whilst the book is a generally laid-back read and Unsworth is a good writer, the writing seems a bit 'try hard'. I feel Unsworth should have allowed the characters and
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nailed it. "It"= that crazy insidious friend dynamic between young, unattached women who've become, essentially, life partners who enable each other's fuckups even as they're getting way too old for it. And then one becomes attached, and the shiz hits the fan. On top of all the prurient interest of reading about two codependent train wrecks, the writing is beautiful. Can't wait to read more from Unsworth.
Pickle Farmer
A fun cathartic read. I like that the protagonist was still drinking in the end and that her journey as a character didn't necessarily equal complete 100% sobriety. The shameless energy and unabashed drive in this book was very refreshing to me.
Sep 08, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Genuinely one of the worst books I've ever read. Indulgent, offensive, smug - I loathed all the characters and the writing was just plain bad. Too many adverbs. Terrible stuff, terrible
Katja (Life and Other Disasters)
If you liked this book, good for you! But I, for one, am just so relieved to be done with it. Every chapter was an accumulation of drinking, drugs, bad life choices and the same all over again and again and again. I don't know what the point was and I neither felt invested in the friendships nor any other relationships.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, library
Really enjoyed the style of writing, and found parts of it incredibly relatable (in a bad way). If you have been a teenager/university student in the UK then the drinking culture and relentless going out portrayed here along with the things Tyler and Lo get up to may hit a bit close to home, albeit a bit more extreme than my own experience.

I have to say it did take a while to feel like all of this was going anywhere when probably around 3/4 of the book was spent following Tyler and Lo either
Lisa Bentley
Jun 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine what it would be like to have to constantly choose between your fiancé and your soul mate. This is the ever present predicament for Laura Joyce. She is engaged to Jim, dependable, clever and creative yet her best friend (and resident wild child) Tyler keeps pulling her to the dark (and arguably more fun) side.

The lifestyles chosen by Tyler and Jim couldn’t be more different and whilst Laura should be a natural balance between the both of them things just do not work out that way. When
Yashoda Sampath
Excuse me while I take a minute to let out a long breath. I first picked this one up after hearing an interview on NPR. The way Unsworth described the book - two young women with a complex, destructive friendship, tearing each other apart as one of them grows past the incessant drugs and partying - just sounded like a great time.

It was fantastic and funny, but then it got real. The book transforms from a sort of fun party romp into a sort of cautionary tale for how my life could have gone if I
Katie Blagden
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Described by Caitlin Moran as 'Withnail with girls', this definitely hits similar notes as the story follows two friends, Laura and Tyler, as they stumble from one drunken and drug-addled night to the next. However, while there is a certain ghoulish glee in Unsworth's descriptions of the women's excess and the fallout from it (her gross-out details of bodily fluids are gruesomely satisfying), there's more to this story than the party. Unsworth doesn't shy from difficult questions about gender ...more
Freesiab (Bookish Review)
I listened on audiobook and its narrated by Caitlin Moran and its brilliant! According to the back of the book I got a lot more than I was expecting! It's not just a story of best friend party girls, even if they are. It turns into a complex story about new stages in life (marriage, death and new beginnings) and how that can effect everything, it tap dances around addiction issues but it's fairly obvious it's there. It's about damaged women. This is NSFW or if you offend easily. Quite explicit. ...more
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Such an interesting examination of someone trapped in a lifestyle she cannot entirely explain liking, and trying to blindly escape it by trapping herself in another one she can barely think clearly about.

It's not as serious as that makes it sound, or it is, if you take life seriously. These girls don't. Or they do, but how seriously can you take life when all you want to do is write but when you sit in front of your computer you physically can't, and instead you drink more wine and give into
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well its coming to the screen so I thought I better read it first and it sounded right up my street. Laura and Tyler are happily enjoying their late twenties/early thirties, to the extreme either drunk or hungover. This causes a little friction with Laura's fiancé Jim, solid and dependable and sober, and permanently disappointed. Thankfully Laura does begin to realise that not all relationships are healthy, and maybe she needs to take some action for herself to move forward.

I am not sure how
Colleen C
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel came into my life through a clever marketing scheme from Kramerbooks in DC. As part of their "blind date book" project, the book was neatly wrapped in plain brown paper with a short sentence description to entice a reader into buying the book sight unseen. I'm really pleased with my purchase! While the book flap might suggest a chick lit plot, Unsworth's solid writing and clear-sighted wisdom make this small British novel a worthwhile read. Would definitely recommend to a friend, ...more
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Verdict: Story - 4/5
Writing - 5/5
Character - 5/5
Memorability - 3/5
Enjoyment - 4/5
Overall rating - 4.2/5

Really enjoyed this one. A story of female friendship, bad choices, growing up and growing apart. It's crude, drug and alcohol fuelled and neither Laura or Tyler are particularly likeable so avoid if that's not your thing. But it's incredibly well written and one of my books of the year. Finished just in time to see the film and enjoyed that just as much. Although the crudeness was dialled
So much drinking, so much debauchery. This book gave me a hangover.
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Searingly accurate, sensitive and hilarious portrayal of the beautiful complexities in female friendship. Loved it.
Sam Still Reading
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: UK bloggers
I’m really not sure where to start with this review. Animals for me was an incredibly brilliant read and I’m certain my musings on it will not do it justice. I’ve had this book on my radar since a number of my favourite UK bloggers read and recommended it on release last year and then I saw that the book has been longlisted for the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered prize. I think this was a good cue to read it, even though I’m in Australia (I feel like I’m in the UK sometimes though because the time ...more
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“These things you treasure, how often they're somebody else's trash.” 7 likes
“Big cities comforted me: the cover, the chaos, the hollow sympathy of the architecture, the Tube lines snaking underground. London could swallow you up, in a good way. There were times when I'd been broken and being subsumed into a city had made me feel part of a whole again.” 6 likes
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