Well, I'm pretty glad I decided to pick this book up! I had been recommended Water for Elephants by several customers, and once my coworkers started talking it up I decided to ignore the fact that Robert Pattinson was cast in the movie and read the book anyway (4 bucks on my Nook, which is awesome). I'm very happy I did; this book blew me away. I thought it was a silly romance book dressed up as a fiction, but it read much better than that, and I spent most of the time having to remind myself that there was a romance aspect, since so much happened in the story.
The book opens up with the ending of the story, a tragic animal stampede and the death of the animal supervisor, August Rosenbluth, followed by a quick transition to the daily life of elderly Jacob Jankowski in his nursing home, eagerly awaiting a trip to the circus with his family. Most of the story is told in a series of flashbacks from the elderly Jankowski, reflecting on his days in the Benzini Brothers Circus during the Great Depression. After losing his parents in a tragic car accident, and learning that they died in severe debt, Jacob loses his head during final exams at his veterinary school, leaves and hops aboard a train, which happens to belong to a traveling circus. He joins up as the veterinarian, and so begins a turbulent year traveling with a circus, and lusting after Marlena, the show's animal performer and wife to the brilliant yet insane equestrian director, August.
This was the second book I've read written in first person, present tense (the first being the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins), and while I'm not a fan of it, I can also appreciate that it's the best way to convey the emotions felt by a certain character. In the case of Water for Elephants, it worked out incredibly well. I felt myself drawn into the emotions Jacob felt, both during his experiences and in reliving his youth as an old man. I definitely recommend this book, although I also recommend picking up the original cover and not the movie tie-in edition. Because seriously, who wants Robert Pattinson on their book covers besides 13 year old girls obsessed with Twilight?
On that note, I'm off to start 2030 by Albert Brooks. I hope it's good, or at least better than all the apocalypse movies that are out there. But then again it would be a struggle to be WORSE than a lot of those movies...