Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen book review


Water for Elephants

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...

My Review: 5/10

The story itself was excellent and the characters fiercely human. The blurbs describe the book as gritty, sensual and romantic. I couldn't disagree more. That's like saying that a man who crudely propositions a woman is flirting. The sexual content was rated X for sure. The author almost seems to fixate on incidents and revel in them. They did absolutely nothing to further or deepen the storyline and, because events happened so many times throughout the novel, I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book to anyone.

I was particularly disturbed by the threeway/rape scene. Because that's what it was. He was so drunk he was not able to consent. He had no control over any part of his body. And he passed out not knowing what had been done or if he was still a virgin. Putting a fleeting thought in his mind that he was "definitely interested" did not make it okay and perpetuates rape culture. I can only imagine how people would have reacted if the genders were reversed: if the author had been a man and this scene had been about a woman with two men who help themselves because "they love them at this age." Disgusting.

This was one of those rare times when the movie is better than the book. The movie follows the plot of the novel very closely. Even some of the raunchier aspects are present, as they relate to the story, but not in enough detail to distract from the plot or make the audience uncomfortable.

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