Erastes's Reviews > War Horse

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
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it was ok

I'm clearly the only person in the world who doesn't like, doesn't get, this book.

The horse is a Gary Stu (See here if you don't know what one of those is - he knows everything, from what guns and cannons are, to what wire is and what it can do, the terms for everythng in his world, including politics and the type of bit in his mouth.

I'm used to anthropomorphic animals, and have been since I was born--but Joey should be dressed up in a waistcoat and walking on his hind legs because he has the human intelligence of one of the pigs from Animal Farm or Benjamin Bunny.

When you compare this style of "horse point of view" with Black Beauty or something well done like Watership Down, you can see the failings. In Watership Down, the rabbits didn't understand CONCEPTS such as "a road" - they see a hard river that smells wrong - and elil run up and down the road, not hunting the rabbits, but as deadly as anything else in their world. Whilst they learn how to cope with the road, they never understand it. But Joey understands everything, both ideas and concepts--and that's just irritating.

He knows English, despite having no horse communication at all - then when he's abroad, he understands German and French! someone has said that this aspect of it emphasises the anti-war message, but I'm afraid I just don't get that at all.

A horse is a fight or flight animal--its instinct is to run away and I'm afraid that MM doesn't represent a horse at all in this book. He's simply telling the story of a man in a horse's body, and really--it would have been a better book if he'd told it from the point of view of a man.

I understand that I'm one lone voice in the wilderness here, though, so I doubt anyone will agree with me.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 11, 2011 – Shelved
September 11, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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message 1: by J.P. (new)

J.P. Bowie Justin Bieber gave it 1 star! So you're not alone! LOL

Erastes I don't know if that makes me feel any better!!!

Jules I like your analysis of the point of view and what's off-putting about it. I think I had much the same problem - Morpurgo lets his narrator mediate way too much in his own voice rather than the horse's. Voice is so important in a novel, be it written for children or not, and that just falls flat on its face here, which is a bit annoying. That, and the fact that Joey really doesn't behave very horse-like even when surrounded by other horses. I wonder if Morpurgo bothered to research the most basic things about equestrian interaction... Though, to be honest, it still somehow managed to move me.

(I'm also amused that I nodded along with your review, then did a double take when I saw your name in a comment, had to go back to see that it really was you, and then proceeded to grin to myself. I'm familiar with your name through LJ fandom days though I think I only migrated to LJ around the time you left. One can never escape that past and those people even if one wanted, it seems! Heh.)

message 4: by Steelwhisper (new)

Steelwhisper I not only fully agree on the book, the movie is even worse and contains so many obvious historical errors it makes my brain itch.

message 5: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah I also strongly dislike the anthropomorphism in this book. You are not alone! Michael Morpurgo is my least favourite author as I hate anthropomorphism of animals especially when it is completely unrealistic. I also do not like Michael Morpurgo books as I find the characters wimpy, 'sensitive', dull, and generally a bit timid and feeble - not for me. He writes a bit conscientiously and it frankly repels me. I have also felt like I am the only person in the world not to like this book (I sold my copy to raise money for charity). I can only justify myself with the fact that I have read literally thousands of books and War Horse is the only one I have never finished (it is not in my nature to leave a book but I slowed to a painful crawl I disliked it so much).

message 6: by Sparrowlicious (new)

Sparrowlicious Ah. I see. I guess this can be highly irritating.

Sunnyismyponyhahahaa! OK Rebekah, you are just making up words now... seriously!? this book is amazing! i also love black beauty and have read it so many times, but... come on!!

Sunnyismyponyhahahaa! :) HORSES ARE AMAZING... that is all

Waverly I think he wrote that way on purpose to show animals can be just as smart as humans and they have the same complex feelings. While it may have been overboard at times, I believe he did it so we could realize the injustice that was being done to the horse. There were time when I couldn't tell if Joey was a horse or human. Sometimes it was perfect for the book and other times it wasn't. It may have been unrealistic but it made the book interesting.

Sunnyismyponyhahahaa! Waverly wrote: "I think he wrote that way on purpose to show animals can be just as smart as humans and they have the same complex feelings. While it may have been overboard at times, I believe he did it so we cou..."
wow that was really deep... i just love horses!! hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Colleen you wouldn't expect Morpurgo to write the book in horse language German or French would you? Plus this is a novel, not a history book. So in a novel a horse can understand many languages, and the world around him, and if it was written in the point of view of a man, Joey wouldn't be in half the book. thumbs Up for War Horse!!!

Radhika Gunawardena You're not entirely alone :)

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