Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~'s Reviews > Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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it was ok
bookshelves: 2-star, year-2017

Actual Rating: 1.5 Stars

I went into this book with basically no expectations.

Outside of the preview I saw for the movie starring Robert Pattinson & Reese Witherspoon years ago, I didn't even know what this book was about. Turns out this is a story is set in the 1920's & told from the dual perspectives of Jacob Jankowski when he is 23 & 90 (or maybe 93).

On one hand, the story follows young Jacob right after his parents are both taken from him in a freak car accident. Laden with grief, he abandons his studies & joins the circus. Older Jacob, now bound to the care of a nursing home, reflects on the events of his life & slow dehumanization that occurs after one reaches a certain age.

I have to say, I hardly connected with this book at all. After the initial tragedy of Jacob's parent's deaths, I lost all interest in his life as part of the circus. The story is written well enough, but I didn't find the idea very compelling & I just did not care about his relationships & rivalries with other characters.

You may assume older Jacob's part of the book would be even less interesting by nature, but surprisingly these were the only parts I found myself engaging with. As an old, sarcastic man, Jacob contemplates how the elderly often revert back to the status of young children in the eyes of society. These ideas are simultaneously hilarious & disheartening, and achieved their goal in making me ponder how we treat our elders.

My reading experience with Water for Elephants can only be described as depressing as hell.

There's a lot of unnecessary violence in this story, & some explicit sex scenes that felt entirely pointless. I saw where the author was trying to go, but ultimately the events that take place on both fronts felt contrived.

Sometimes I have moments while reading "Adult" books where I feel as though the author is nervous their book won't be considered "Adult" enough if they don't throw in some blood, gore, & sex. This is the feeling this book gave me. It just wasn't essential to the characterization & it did nothing to salvage my feelings of distaste about the plot in general.

At the end it is revealed that the entirety of young Jacob's experience in the circus takes place in 3.5 months, and I couldn't help but find that laughable. In such a short space of time so much over the top drama takes place without the stabilizing sense of humanity that would've given me a reason to care about this story.

Other than older Jacob's sections, the only other real praise I can muster for this book is the writing. Gruen has a graphic style of writing that really worked for this circus setting.

Otherwise, I don't think this is one I'll be recommending to anyone in the future.
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Reading Progress

July 14, 2015 – Shelved
July 14, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
June 11, 2017 – Started Reading
June 11, 2017 –
82.0% "*sings about how I want this depressing ass book to be over*"
June 12, 2017 – Shelved as: 2-star
June 12, 2017 – Shelved as: year-2017
June 12, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-28 of 28 (28 new)

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Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ Girl "Eeek" and the half of it 😂

Megan Johnson Great book!!! :)

Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ Oh did you like it Megan? :o

Dark Sith Lordette Jennymort ♔ You're review more or less informed me of your opinion of this particular dead tree. *cackles*

Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ ........... YOU PEOPLE AND YOUR WEIRDASS DEAD TREE WHISPERING *screams* lol

Heather it was pretty boring

Rachael (RedRchlReads) Yeah....this is a case of the movie being infinitely better than the book. And that's mostly just because it was pretty!

Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ Lol Rachael that's hilarious!! I have to admit I was slightly interested in still seeing the movie because I do like the actors in it haha

Dark Sith Lordette Jennymort ♔ Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ wrote: "........... YOU PEOPLE AND YOUR WEIRDASS DEAD TREE WHISPERING *screams* lol"

Did you even like the smell of the tree's corpse?
*turns beet red from holding in maniacal laughter*

Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ -leaves the room-
-cements the door closed behind me-
Goodbye forever just take my friends & the tree corpses make a happy life together without me!!

Dark Sith Lordette Jennymort ♔ Did you realize that I, Lord Jennymort, can apperate to where you are my dear?

That and one of these days I shall get you to banter back and forth with me about our collection of tree corpses. One day.

Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ If I must end my own life to avoid this conversation then that is a sacrifice I am willing to make. CAN YOU APPARATE INTO THE AFTERLIFE HM????

Dark Sith Lordette Jennymort ♔ I could call you with the resurrection stone if I must? Lol

Just this once, I shall stop harassing you about our corpse collections.

Michelle Watson Forbes I have to say, I did enjoy the book more than you did. I don't think I want to re-read the book. I was ok with it. To each their own.....

Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ DONT DO IT JENN lol

Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ Michelle I'm glad that you enjoyed it more than I did! :D

message 19: by P. (new) - rated it 1 star

P. Kirby Heh. I hated this book so much, I would have given it negative five stars if that were possible.

Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ P I totally understand I am surprised at how much I also disliked this one!

message 21: by Eve (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eve Messenger It's so interesting how different people have different experiences with the same book. I thought the parts w/the old man were totally unnecessary and my least favorite part of the story. My favorite part, on the other hand, was Rosie!!

Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ I agree Eve! It could have been the fact that I listened to this in audiobook form but I usually don't let that affect my rating of a book. & I liked Rosie a lot too she was such a sly little elephant haha!

Iryna *Book and Sword* ahh sucks! I had this book on my tbr forever, but now seeing that it has a lot of unnecessary sex and gore I'm not sure I want to read it much anymore.

Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ Iryna definitely some weird unnecessary sex scenes. & I know no one LIKES animal violence but the animal violence here just seemed like it was added for shock not & to make us hate an already hatable character. I wouldn't recommend!

Megan Johnson Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ wrote: "Oh did you like it Megan? :o"

I did like it, but ALSO I read it MANY years ago, like when it came out! I was a kid, LOL - this might be why I was able to relate to the book more.

Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ Haha I see! I am glad it was more enjoyable for you! 🤗

Michelle Watson Forbes That always happens to me. I read a book a while ago, being alright or even good when I first read it, but on second examination, I might change my point of view. Though I remember liking it, some of the plot points I do remember having issues with and I don't intend to read it again.

Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ Michelle same here for the books I read before I started reviewing! I'm like wait why did I like or dislike that book??? But now with my reviews it's much easier to remember haha!

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