Warning: scathing review with spoilers

book 3: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I've seen and heard a lot of hype about this book, but the only good thing I really have to say about it is that it has some good stock photography from the Ringling Bros. Circus from the early 1900s. Other than that, I think I'll use it as an example of what NOT to do in my creative writing class, including stiff dialogue and cliched characters that I can't imagine any reader really caring about. Take one of the central characters, Marlena, for example. Here's what the reader learns about her: she can ride a horse and an elephant, loves horses, is attractive, likes to burst into tears, is married to a paranoid schizophrenic, and is in love with the protagonist. That's it. That's all you get about this one. And her husband, the so-called paranoid schizophrenic: perhaps this is the author's way of trying to make this antagonist more complex, more sympathetic. Whatever. Yawn. He's extremely violent and abusive one minute and sickeningly charming the next (meaning he says things like, "I'm so glad you came by. Oh, pardon my manners, would you like a drink?"). The most interesting character in the whole book is Queenie, the dog. This is just one woman's adamant opinion of this dull, lifeless, poorly written book.

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