Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Goodreads Summary: Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Jacob was there because his luck had run out - orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive 'ship of fools'. It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act - in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

I was really puzzled by this book. While it was an interesting story, I can't figure out what everyone is raving about! There were some interesting parts of this book. It was interesting to see this side of life during the Great Depression. It was interesting to view it from a 90-something year old man's mind and see that he was still there, he just looked different outside. But the story was not that compelling, and the characters were SO one sided. They were not multi-faceted at all. All of the main characters were either good or evil. It was so straightforward that it didn't seem realistic.
You know how when you go to National Parks and read the little signs about the plants, animals, and history, and think, "Oh, that's interesting?" That's how I felt about this book. The subject was interesting. The time period was interesting - I was a history major, so I love historical fiction. The fact that almost everything in here was based on real events, was interesting, and I really did enjoy the old man's perspective. But not enough to read a whole book on it! I hate stopping in the middle of books but I couldn't bring myself to finish it! It just wasn't well written, and to top it all off, it also had tons of bad language and some sex scenes that were unnecessary. Those haven't even affected this review, it was purely based on the story and characters, which left something to be desired.
  From talking with others who have read this book, it sounds like the story gets moving a lot more in the second half of the book, and it sounds interesting, but any book that takes half of the book to get moving is not a book for me.  I know others have loved it, but it wasn't my style.

1.5 stars
Lots of language and some graphic sexual content

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Couldn't agree more!