Wednesday, March 16, 2016

BOOK REVIEW - Water for Elephants

Author: Sara Gruen 
Format: Kindle eBook, purchased on amazon
Did it feel like a full novel: yes
Cliffhanger: no 
Genre: historical, romance, movie
Dates Read: Feb 24-Mar 3, 2016
Official Blurb: Orphaned, penniless, Jacob Jankowski jumps a freight train in the dark, and in that instant, transforms his future.

By morning, he's landed a job with the Flying Squadron of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. By nightfall, he's in love.

In an America made colourless by prohibition and the Depression, the circus is a refuge of sequins and sensuality. But behind the glamour lies a darker world, where both animals and men are dispensable. Where falling in love is the most dangerous act of all..

One Sentence: Felt transported to behind the scenes at this circus during the Depression

Full Review: I haven’t watched the film, and all I really know about it is that Robert Pattinson is in it. I didn’t have much interest because it looked like a star-crossed lovers romance somehow, and I didn’t know there was more plot to it. However, after reading the book, I certainly want to give the film a try!

I was very easily hooked into the character of Jacob, feeling his frustrations as he recalls things in present day, having an annoying number of problems in his nursing home. You feel for him, but you don’t really pity him. His voice felt believable to me. The other half of the book’s action takes place in the past, when he was young and joined the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show. It’s really cool, making me want to watch Carnivale and other stuff like that (recently got through American Horror Story: Freakshow). No, nothing reminiscent of Freaks (1932), rather more the drama just from workers and performers and animals all jumbled up together, being on a tight schedule. But I still liked reading from Jacob’s perspective and enjoyed his younger self. I was reading the book eagerly and enjoying every word.... up until The Romance.

It felt like it was added because it needed to be part of the story, but I could not believe, throughout the whole thing, that these two characters really loved each other. I mean, I was told they did, and I could see little things, but it felt much to quick even by romance novel instalove standards. Maybe it was also because Marlena felt kinda one dimensional? Well, not that much, but more so than Camel or Walter for sure. Even August was somebody, not just a cardboard puppet. 

But thankfully there wasn’t all that much time wasted on the romance, there was rather a bit more! The traveling situation, the interactions of persons (I was curious about more rube/carniefolk interactions but eh well), the animals like Rosie and Bobo. Now all that I could easily get myself easily lost in the book again. 

I am curious about Gruen's other works, but it might take me a while to pick one up, just because I don’t want another lackluster romance. Possibly it just felt that way because when you compare their relationship to a full romance novel, it’s a bit skimpy in comparison perhaps? I don’t know, but either way, it really didn’t detract too much, it was just not as enjoyable as the rest of the book. 

Rating: 4 stars

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