I finally finished Water For Elephants; I’ve been busy the last several weeks. I didn’t love this book, although I liked it a lot. I’ve discovered that “bestsellers” are usually overrated. That’s not to say it’s a bad book; hype has a way of getting out of hand sometimes. As I’ve said, the authors of bestsellers must be doing something right and reaching an audience for their books to sell and be made into movies.
The good: The setting (circus life in the 1930s) is interesting, and the photos in the book are great. The descriptions of the people, circus tents and trains are well done. The concept of an older person reflecting on traveling with a circus many years later is a good one to work with. I love the connection Jacob has with the animals, Rosie and Bobo in particular. I like that Marlena and Jacob end up together, and that Jacob ends up where he belongs. It’s amusing how they rescue the animals and then have to figure out what to do with them.
The problems: It is difficult to tell a story like Jacob’s unless you have had firsthand experience. The author obviously put a lot of effort into researching the material, but she is too young to actually know for herself what circus life or the depression might be like. It can be tricky for a female author to capture the point of view of a male character (or vice versa) effectively also. Maybe she should have told the story from Marlena’s perspective. She does convey the brutality. It is very graphic in some places; I had a hard time with how the circus workers and poor animals are treated. Al and August are barbaric (and they do end up getting their just reward).
Overall pretty good, not great, and not something I’m likely to read again. On to The Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn.