Brenda's Reviews > Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
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it was ok
Recommended for: cotton candy junkies

I just finished reading "Water for Elephants" out on my deck. Just boo. That's my review. Boo. Not a loud boo, or an emphatic boo, just your average boo. Water for Elephants equals boo.

Why do I give this a boo rating? Mostly for the dialogue. The author tries to explain 1930s carnival vernacular through a green carnie's questions about the world around him. And the questions come out over simplified and make for unrealistic and stilted conversations.

Sara Gruen also tries to intersperse a 90-year-old's reminiscings and it just comes out to obvious. He's frustrated by his location and aging body - as you would imagine. And of course he's pathetic and vulnerable and all that as well. It just seems like it's been done before to tell the story from this vantage point.

The book does have some good points. If you were to read it you can look forward to a few murderous tendencies in man and beast alike. Also, since the terrible dialogue takes up a good chunk of the book, you can skip it without missing any of the story making for a fast read. And there are freaks with hearts of gold.

But the most boo-able thing about this book is probably not Gruen's fault, and that is the timing with the HBO show Carnivale. I know that others have made this observation, too. That show was so visual and stimulating that it makes the descriptions and controversies in this book dull by comparison. I was waiting for Jonesy and the priest to come on the scene and duke it out.

The two stars are for the technical written word that mostly failed to detract from the story and for the obvious amount of research and effort the author put into developing the setting.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 1, 2007 – Finished Reading
July 21, 2007 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)

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Sheila Yes! The dialogue killed me!


message 2: by apwebb83 (new) - added it

apwebb83 Oh good you saved me some time.


message 3: by Tea-chi-bri (new)

Tea-chi-bri I couldn't agree with you more Sheila. The dialogue was so contrived and unorginial. I think it was because you had a female writer writing the first person narrative of a male protagonist (I feel the same way about books with the reverse scenario). Overall, I thought the book was terrible and I wonder why it was so highly regarded.


Scarlett Archer Good call on the Carnivale. I love that show so much, that even when I pick up this book now I'm immediately drawn to hoping that this might stand up to the same depth and intention.


Haley Direnzo The dialogue was soo unbelievable it just didn't sound like real people and was sometimes too cheesy to stomach . When he said "I wanna be inside of you" or some bs like that I literally rolled my eyes and laughed out loud.


Carol WOW. You are a tough one. Yikes.


message 7: by Ellen (new) - added it

Ellen Have to agree. It took me far too long to finish the book, frankly I kept losing interest, but I don't like having half read a book! Boo indeed.


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