Monday, April 4, 2011

Water for Elephants

Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants by Sara Gruen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


If I were to build a case that the ending can make or break a book, I would put this in the "make" pile (and Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry in the "break" pile). My feelings for this book evolved from, nice story, lots of cliches-- (burly, old drunk man that looks out for him and says things like "Well, well, what have we here?"; beautiful woman married to maniacal boss; virginal youth left orphaned and penniless to make his way in the world, where everything is new and awesome/horrible; sympathetic animal who is smarter than she seems)-- to very satisfied at the end, mainly because the ending was the perfect ending to this circus adventure. There WAS a lot of unneccesary sexual references, esp. at the beginning and Gruen could take some cues from (dare I say this) Myers (!) to create some sexual chemistry because I never quite believed they were soulmates. All in all a fun read.



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Friday, April 1, 2011

Little Bee

Little BeeLittle Bee by Chris Cleave

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book has all the trappings of a Very Important Book-- a girl from Africa, a morally ambiguous situation, Immigration Reformation, love and marriage, family and career, etc. But from the entreaty on the back cover not to discuss the plot twists, to the just-a-little-too-much analogies and internal dialouges, to the slightly too stereo-typical characters complete with symbolic quirks, this book is just too self-conscious to really be effective. Just like actors who try too hard keep jarring you out of scenes of an otherwise good movie (or perhaps a better analogy would be a director using too many flashy techniques), the descriptions, dialogue, and even parts of the plot keep screaming at you how very impossible this situation is, instead of subtly showing you. Truthfully, the plot twists aren't all THAT surprising--and the ending you can see a mile away. It did provide some good what would you do? conversations with the hubby though, and since the immigration issues in this country are something I get pretty passionate about, I thought it did make some good points. Cleave is a very good writer; he should just stop trying so hard.



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