I wanted to categorize this book as an “ok book.” I really did. It’s clear that Sara Gruen put a lot of hard work and research into Water for Elephants and for that reason I did want to like it. But like it I did not, and the redeemable aspects of Water for Elephants kept getting eclipsed by the bore of a plot, lousy characterizations, and the sappy-syrupy-sweet ending. This is the first time reading a book made me want to skip the movie.
So here we go…the plot. Jacob’s parents die (sure, why not create some easy sympathy for the main character). So he dramatically runs out of his final exams for his last year at veterinary school and joins the circus, the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. He quickly moves up the ranks in the circus because, well, he’s almost a veterinarian. Everything would be moving along well for Jacob, if only he didn’t fall in love with Marlena. Marlena’s beautiful. She’s good with horses. The only problem with Marlena is that she’s married. Married to August, the circus ringleader. August is bad, because sometimes he goes crazy and beats the animals. Jacob is good because he treats the animals well. Marlena regrets that she married August before knowing his true nature, well gee, let’s see if she goes and makes the exact same mistake again.