Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: We The Animals by Justin Torres

We the AnimalsWe the Animals by Justin Torres

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There has been so much hype around this book that I have been wanting to get my hands on it. Unfortunately, it didn't make nearly the impact on me as it appears to have made on so many others. Was it impactful? Yes. Was it edgy? Yes. Was it a great book? Ehh. Not so much. I'd say it was good but certainly not great. It had so much potential but it just didn't get there.

I think Justin Torres has a really interesting, edgy kind of way about his writing which I think is fantastic. I think there is a lot of potential for him and his voice. That was the strength of this book - the voice. The first 2/3 of the novel had me mesmerized. I was so there, so interested in this family. And then, suddenly, out of nowhere, the author goes another direction. It was abrupt. It was unsettling. And, frankly, it took a really good novel down a few pegs to a good (almost ehh) book. If only Torres had invested more time and story (50-100 pages perhaps) to set up the last 3rd of the book instead of just dropping it into the readers lap with no set up or context. If only Torres had given the story those extra 50 to 100 pages. It could have been amazing.

The flow of the story arc is ultimately what I disliked about this novel and why, in the end, I struggle with rating it. This is one of those books that really had potential but it just didn't live up to it. I can see why there are folks who loved it - who felt something as a result of the story. The first 2/3 really are wonderful and impactful. Those initial pages get under your skin and make you FEEL something. Which for me, was one of the reasons that I ultimately disliked the novel so much ... to make me feel so much and then end the novel so badly. I just couldn't get past it. It cheapened the entire novel for me.

I'm not sure that I can even recommend it - that is how disappointing the last 3rd of the novel was to me. It is a very short novel so it's not a huge investment of time. So, if you want to see what all the fuss is about, you might want to check it out. But, ultimately, I'd suggest you skip it and seek out something else.

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