Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen

This book symbolizes the reason why I am still reading YA books. I have recently become disillusioned with YA books because the majority of what I read is a recycled plot, recycled characters, with a recycled, often instalove romance. But then, I read this book. The story is unique, I don't loath the main character or his love interests, and the romance, while fairly fast, was not instalove. You'd think I'd love it, so why didn't I?


Well, there was a lot of cussing. I'm generally tolerant of cussing in books because I can skip over it or change it to "bleep" when I read it. I was reading this via audiobook, so I couldn't do either of the things I usually do, but even so, I probably wouldn't have allowed mere cussing to make this book, which could have been a four or five star read, down to two stars. The problem, for me, was the sex. Or the vulgarity in reference to sex. When a character was having sex or naked, the detail the author gave was far, far too explicit, making me want to cover my ears. What's worse is that the book didn't need these details. It didn't even need most of those scenes, but the ones that were necessary for the plot did not need to be that explicit. Even though, overall, I liked the narrator, the fact that he kept giving so much detail for these things made me like him a lot less.


Probably another reason why I didn't like the book as well is that I watched the movie (which was very good) first. For some reason I've found that most of the (admittedly few) times when I have enjoyed a movie more than a book it's because I watched the movie first. The movie cut most of the vulgarity and nudity in order to be PG-13, but it still kept the characters and story line. The movie also moved me more emotionally. It was very upsetting to see the abuse of Rosie, and I truly felt for Marlena's difficult position. In the book, the abuse of Rosie had a problem of being told rather than shown, and so it wasn't as moving, though I still did feel for Marlena in her difficult situation.