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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
stef r
Lemme start this saying I loved the film with all my heart. Which was why I immediately put this on preorder.
It felt.... empty. Sure you get a LOT of backstory (for those of you who read the bts book, almost 0 of the bios match up with this books versions of the characters) each character gets a narrative (unfortunately that meant getting into Stricklands head) and ones you wanted to know more about get developed (Dimtri and Zelda get some good chapters) but even with that, it just felt off.

TL;DR read it if you must, but know it won't be the magic experience the film was
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
alessandro
I didn’t like the book at all, I couldn’t even finish it... too many characters that I had to keep trying to remember who was who. It was written in a Jodi Piccoult style but it was not easy to follow.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
pippo46
Story moved too slow and had too many details about non-important characters. Instead, not enough history and biological explanation about the creature itself especially the ability to heal others (even though fictional).
Harry Potter a l'ecole des sorciers (French edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone) :: From the Creative Team Behind the Celebrated Movie Series :: The Stranger I Married :: What Happened in Vegas :: The Shape of Water (Inspector Montalbano, Book 1)
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
brendal
Sooooo disappointing! After seeing the uniquely, fantastically whimsical, stylized, beautifully controversial, brilliantly acted/filmed movie I was delighted to discover there was a book and an audio CD of the book which promised somewhat different content compared to the movie...which I took to mean more backstory, more in depth character studies/motivations. Oh woe dear reader.....the book supplied none of those things...and is poorly written to boot!! Such tedious reading....choppy vignettes (chapters) which bounce between the action of the main characters pasted together like post-it notes. Maybe it is a badly fleshed out story board for the movie, but an inviting plunge into the story it is not! (will add a review elsewhere regarding the CD). (SPOILER alert) For example; the book does not not answer the question of how this river god got himself captured. The writers ( took two guys to write this} end ugly, twisted sketches of Strickland being Strickland through many depressing chapters of slogging though the jungle by using very unsatisfying, confusing, and clouded phrases compounded with vague innuendo that never gelled for me. Perhaps they were a reflection/reference to a drug induced hallucination Strickland experienced , but nothing was clearly explained and by then I was extremely annoyed. NO backstory of the Gillgod either.......then boom... we're in Baltimore.... no hint or even mention ( except for the reference Strickland makes in the movie to the effect that he and the Fishman didn't get along) of what happened on the journey to Baltimore. I confess I was expecting a literary work as rich and nuanced as the movie. There are a several short chapters written with a single run on sentence which are supposed to be a kind of stream of Gillgod consciousness (Homage to Finnigan's Wake?) which seemed to me mundane and demeaning for any kind of god. There's more I could complain about, but I'll cut to the chase and advise you to save your money and buy the movie instead. Del Toro is a brilliant movie maker but writing is not his forte. I get trying to cash in on a good thing, but geeze this is sloppy work!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
pranit
While I saw and enjoyed the movie, I did not like this version of the story. Moving from character to character each chapter just slows the pace of the book down to a standstill. I thought the movie was great, but the pacing of this book has actually made me not want to finish it. And I usually finish a book no matter how much I enjoy or don't really enjoy it. Not sure if reading this before seeing the movie would have changed my opinion but I think it might have made me not want to see the movie. I don’t usually write negative reviews unless there is an issue but this book really ruined the movie for me.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
prakhar
I liked the movie, and so persevered through half-a-dozen attempts to start this novel.
I figured out what was wrong. It is written in the present tense. (ex. He drinks the water. The water turns red from the injured tooth. He spits on the floor, etc.)
We hates present tense novels, Precious. We hates ‘em, we do.
Wish I had used the sample reading function to preview this book. Could’ve saved $20. DNF. 1 star.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mignon
It’s the sixties, and Elisa Esposito does the best she can to make a life for herself. A mute, she works as a janitor at the top-secret government establishment called Occam Aerospace Research Center. She is, for the most part, invisible. However, she makes the most of her small life, indulging herself in colorful, showy shoes. Everything unexpectedly changes for Elisa one day, when a secret creature is installed at the research center. Little by little, her life takes on new meaning.

This is a beautifully-written story with vivid and descriptive images. Many interesting parallels are intertwined within various aspects of the story, creating poetic and insightful metaphors that make it unforgettable. The characters are each compelling and realistic in their own ways, making this a ‘must-read’ story!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zee sayed
Richard Strickland has been ordered to Brazil to capture a creature revered as a god, Deus Branquia, the Gill-God. His hope is that a successful completion will free him from the clutches of General Hoyt, a man who knows too much about the atrocities committed in Korea. But it is the jungle that now owns Strickland, even after he has return to civilization.

Elisa Esposito, mute and orphaned, works at the Occam Aerospace Research Center where the creature is brought to be experimented on, to learn its secrets for warfare against the Russians. Elisa is drawn to it, finding herself teaching it -- him -- sign language in order to better communicate. She finds a kindred spirit in him. As they interact, love blooms. Elisa grows more and more determined to free him.

So incredibly intense. Much like I've heard del Toro say in interviews regarding his film, I was always disappointed and surprised that the Creature from the Black Lagoon was made the villain rather than the woman character's love interest. I think he has wonderfully fixed that mistake on the original film's premise.

No one in this book is as they seem at the beginning. The creature is not a monster. Not even Richard is one, at least he didn't start out as one. As reprehensible as his actions are, he is in pain, desperately trying to get back to an image of happiness that is long gone. Many people are forced to do and be what they don't wish to be, from Bob to Giles to Zelda to Lainie. The difference between them all is how they react when it gets to the point of making the hard decisions.

I haven't seen the film yet, and now I wonder how it could be anywhere near the perfection of the words in this book. 5 out of 5.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
lejon johnson
I loved the story for it's beauty. Elisa came to life and gave me more of a sense of her, her fears, her determination. However, I am sad that most of the book was devoted to Strickland. If only the authors could have devoted the analysis to Elisa and our Gill-Man. Their stories, their life views and their ultimate fate should have been the focus. A scant few pages of Gill-Man's thoughts and perceptions were revealed. I so wish we would have had long paragraphs on his feelings in the lab, towards his captors and finally his feelings towards Elisa throughout their relationship. Only in the end to we find out how great his intelligence was. Why not gives us the centuries of his knowledge of change. So for me, it is the most powerful of human stories, of what we "can" become. But sad that I saw so much ugliness in the face of Strickland and his struggles and his hatred.

I recommend the book to anyone but you will gain very little additional knowledge on our heroes. You will however find a closure of the story which will bring you contentment.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
joan martin
If you don’t know the story yet, The Shape of Water is about a Sea God that is captured by an evil man who considers himself a Jungle God. The Sea God is taken to laboratory where he is held captive and subjected to torture by human monsters who want to destroy this thing they don’t understand. A mute janitor named Elisa shows him kindness and brings him eggs and music and they fall in love.

If you’ve ever had a little secret crush on The Creature from the Black Lagoon this is the book that was written for you. Even if you haven’t, it might be the book for you!

There is brutality and ickiness but the sweet romance provides a nice contrast.

This book is based on the movie of the same name and if you enjoyed the movie, I think you should read the book too. I was expecting an emotionless rehashing of the screenplay but that’s not at all what I got. The story is fleshed out most excellently as are all of the characters. The first ¼ reads like an action adventure novel that takes place in the jungle. We see bad guy Strickland in action and he does some horrible, depraved things that end up haunting him throughout the story. There is so much more here than what was shown in the film that you need to know, if you’re anything like me. Strickland’s wife even has a storyline that I found interesting. She is the typical perfect 50’s/60’s wife but she’s not thrilled with her lot in life and longs for more and actually takes the steps to do so causing Strickland to become more unhinged as the book progresses. I loved seeing that horrid man get beaten down. We also get to know Zelda and Giles and the Russian scientist on a much deeper level as well.

Now about that fish love, and I know that’s why you’re here, it works spectacularly in the book and it’s not at all “icky” (the ickiness only came from Strickland and his rotting fingers and garbage thoughts). The romance develops too quickly in the movie for my tastes (I’m never a fan of insta-love even if the male is a Sea God) but here there’s time for it develop at a natural pace as they communicate through sign language and his physical color changes that he controls to show his emotions and calm situations for anyone paying close enough attention - and Elisa is. We get to know Elisa and are allowed in on all of her intimate thoughts. We even get a bit of the Sea God’s perspective which I LOVED. He’s primitive and gentle in his thoughts and has another way of looking at life that felt genuine to who he was before being ripped from the calmness and savage beauty of the jungle.

This is a unique and strange love story and I really and truly am glad I took some time to read it. 4 ½ Stars
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
arleen a
This was a beautifully told story about so many individuals that just didn’t fit into the time or place they were born into and how each touched the others life. I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The prose is beautiful and it helped me connect to each of the characters in a different way.

It makes me want to protect Elisa, our mute heroine that finds little ways to defy authority and be the woman she is. She is a good friend to those she cares for and so easy to love in her loneliness

There’s a mirror here in the bedroom, too, but she chooses not to look at it, just in case her hunch is true and she’s invisible.

Then there is Giles a man later in years who was born into a time where his sexual preference is deemed deviant and it has cost him so much be he remains true to the man he is. I loved him and I really wanted to find a nice man to set him up with. Of everyone in the story he deserved a happy ending too.

This is, in short, the magic of art. To concede the possibility of being captured in this way is to actively collaborate with the artist. By God, Giles thinks, it’s true: They are not so different from each other. Giles might still, under the right light, bathed in the right water, be beautiful, too.

Lainie made me so grateful that I was not a woman in that time. She did her duty and married someone to keep house for and bare children. Someone, who would make all the decisions as she cleaned and toiled. But what happens when he leaves for 18 months and she made all the decisions and felt the control and freedom of running her own life. How is she supposed to go back to being just a Mrs. Strickland and not Elaine anymore? How do you go back to only crawling after learning to walk?

Inside these boxes are seventeen months of a different life. One that had knocked her off the well-trod path she’d been on since she was a little girl: dating, marriage, children, homemaking. Pulling items from those boxes—it’s like ripping organs from that other version of herself, that woman of ambition and energy and promise. The whole thing is silly, she knows that. She’ll get to it. She will.

Even the scientist that would normally be the bad guy in a book like this is someone I wished had a different life with more chances. He was a man caught between impossible choices but I liked how he saw not only our fish man but people in general.

“The most intelligent of creatures,” he offers softly, “often make the fewest sounds.”

And Strickland. Watching him decay into the worst version of himself a small step at a time was just horrifying. Knowing his thought processes and why he made certain choices too was as awful as it was insightful. I HATED HIM as soon as he said Fanciful fables don’t deserve to live. but then he got so much worse and by the end he felt like true evil.

The Dovonian (fish guy) is fantastic. At first when I heard there was going to be some boom-chicka-bow-wow between him and Elisa I was a little leery of that. It’s all well and good in shapeshifter novels and PNR but I wasn’t convinced that it was going to work for me. Surprisingly I’m totally okay with fishman love. It was actually a bit beautiful how they communicated and after the ending it completely felt right for them to have that moment. I adored getting a few PoVs from the Devonian to really understand his thinking patterns and such. It humanized him as more than a creature and made the story that much more special.

This is a fantastic story of hope, doing the right thing and being okay with being different. It showed how each of us might feel alone, but we are connected in so many little ways to so many people that you are never truly alone.

Audio Note: This is one of my absolute favorite audio narrations of the year. Jenna Lamia was spectacular in her narrative performance. I loved her performance of this and will look for other books narrated by her.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
laraine
I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed this. While I understand this was developed along-side the movie, not based on it, I usually find book from movies quite shallow. So, I wasn't expecting much. Which means the depth and shades of grey in this book was a pleasant surprise. I loved the writing style and characters, especially Giles. Plus, how so many characters crossed paths without ever knowing it.

It wasn't faultless. I found it's message, while admirable, too bluntly relayed. It was a bit in your face. And Strickland's mania went too far, much farther than needed anyhow. Having said that, as much as I detested him (of course I did), he was also one of my favorite characters. Favorite in the sense that there was the most to him. He was horrible, just a monster. But he was also profoundly broken and trying desperately to unf_ck himself (but too dysfunctional to have any hope of succeeding or recognizing that fact). I've not seen the movie. But I wonder if they could have brought this to the screen without his internal monologues. Lastly, I thought the ending, while predictable, wrapped it all up a little too nicely. (Unless of course you read the whole thing to have been orchestrated by Deus Branquia in order to get from South America to New York to find Elisa, which after the last scenes I kind of do. That brings an element of sacrifice I appreciate.)

Note: I borrowed the book from the library. I chose to read and review it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sarah volpe
....4.5 Stars.

....After finally deciding to watch the movie, (that I enjoyed MUCH more than I thought I would), just had to checkout what Guillermo del Toro did with the book....and so glad I did!

....The setting is Cold War era America 1962, and unlike the flick, the novel begins with a human monster....Richard Strickland....assigned a dangerous mission in the sweltering jungles and rain forests of South America to locate and capture a legendary new life form, i.e. Gill-God...Man-Fish with supernatural powers.

....Now, flash forward to Baltimore and Elisa Esposito....poor, lonely and trapped in a world of silence and isolation; she sleeps by day and travels by night to her graveyard shift janitorial job at a high security government laboratory. Her only two friends, a witty co-worker Zelda Fuller and a gay aging artist neighbor Giles Gunderson complete the realm of her existence....until the asset appears and begins to monopolize her thoughts and dreams.

....THE SHAPE OF WATER is a unique fairy tale love story that requires the reader to step out of the real world into one of fantasy and science-fiction.

....The movie is wonderfully atmospheric of the time with beautiful music. The novel ((for me) was even better....creepier....with more storyline....the villain more evil....with Del Toro's usual ewww moments, BUT....I would have been a bit confused at the start had I not first seen the movie.

....One final note...warning. There are a couple of shocking animal incidents (one with a cat).
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
derek bevil
So this book is totally out of my wheelhouse for romances that I normally read, but I had heard of the movie and the sci-fi/fantasy aspect of the story intrigued me. Now that I have read the book, I decided to rent the movie to see how it compared. Stay tuned below for the movie review!

This story is told from multiple points of view, most of which I will touch on briefly below.

Richard Strickland is a soldier with very few ethics, who feels trapped in a relationship with General Hoyt due to his past misdeeds. After the Cold War, Richard is sent to the the store rainforest to acquire the Deus Brânquia, an amphibious man-like creature revered as a god by the locals. Unfortunately Richard loses his ever-loving mind in the rain forest, which will continue to impact him for the rest of the story. While there was an attempt to humanize Strickland with his early wants and desires to be home with his family, his cruel and murderous nature and lunacy really made it hard to sympathize with his plight.

Laney Strickland was Richard's wife, who realized that she wanted more from life. We see her struggling with her position in her marriage and society throughout the story. She didn't have a huge part of the narrative, but we glimpsed her life from time to time.

Dr. Bob Hoffstelter was a researcher and scientist at Occam, where the Deus Brânquia was held following its capture. Hoffstetler was more interested in the science and wonder of the sea god, and didn't really take part in Strickland's cruelty. Hoffstetler struggled throughout the story with his role in the experiment and the future fate of the creature. He was more of a sympathetic character, despite operating in a gray area for this tale. I liked that Hoffstetler saw the value of our heroine and didn't treat everyone around him like they were beneath him.

Zelda D. Fuller was one of my favorite characters. She is an African American janitor in 1960s America, struggling with her place in society as the civil rights movement surges forward. I loved the comedic aspect her character brought to the story, and the relationship between Zelda and Elisa was heartwarming.

Elisa Esposito is our heroine, a scarred and mute heroine at Occam with a penchant for pinup shoes. I have to admit that the shoe aspect threw me off and I couldn't quite picture her silver sparkly heels and janitors scrubs in my head. Eliza narrates the majority of the story and, through her, we experience feelings of wonder, hope, acceptance and love. I liked that our meek and mute character is the one who ended up with the most courage to befriend and rescue the Deus Brânquia from a very dangerous man. Yes, there is some fish sex but its not graphic and the creature was man shaped so it really wasn't different than most shapeshifter stories in that regard. I liked the interaction between Elisa and the sea creature, particularly when they were learning to communicate and bond. All of the hardboiled eggs were weird to me... but probably just because I can't stand them.

Giles was Elisa's best friend and neighbor, an aged and lonely artist who we saw through some sad situations in the story. Being a homosexual septagenerian (or thereabouts) had to be extremely tough in the 1960s, and Giles despair and desperation fairly jumped off the page at me.

Deus Brânquia is the sea god/creature ripped from his home in the the store and stuck in a tank at Occam, where he is tortured, experimented on, and finds a ray of hope in Elisa. Deus Brânquia was not often the narrator, but I liked it when he was. His wonder at the world was captivating, and I liked his responses to his environment.

I guessed how the story would end fairly early on, but I don't think that really detracted from the story. The narrator, Jenna Lamia, did a fantastic job with the performance. Her character affectations were distinct and engaging, and she held my attention well. The story wasn't the easiest to follow in audio at first... but once I got used to the artsy nature and stopped trying to understand every single word and situation, I found that I was able to relax and just enjoy it.

I voluntary read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this audiobook that I received from the publisher, MacMillan Audio.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
zack hansen
Surprising love story between a janitor and an aquatic man captured as a test animal. Strickland is haunted by his deeds during the Vietnam War and he is sent to capture the Gill god in the the store. He spends 17 months but finds his prey and brings back the creature only to put it in a tank in a laboratory for study and ultimately to be dissected to find out how it ‘ticks.’ But, the janitor in the laboratory is enraptured by the creature. She is deaf and can only communicate with sign language. The creature responds. The story unfolds with Strickland the inhumane man haunted by his past intent on making the creature his successful project. After an accident in the lab, he loses perspective and begins to blame everything about his life on the Gill God. He tortures it and this makes the janitor decide to save the creature. It is an odd love story but a love story all the same. The writing is wonderful and the way the Gill God and the janitor connect is beyond believable. The story has everything going for it. I listened to the book in audible form and have not seen the movie. The audible book is hard to stop listening to but today I finished it. Awesome! I gave it 4 starts instead of 5 stars because I just couldn’t believe the premise. But, nevertheless, I am glad I listened. It is a fascinating story.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
melea
I have not seen the movie yet, but I will after listening to this audio book. I was invested in it from the start and couldn't wait to listen to it whenever I got the chance. Ms. Lamia is a superb narrator (the best I've heard so far) and gives such subtle nuances to each character, that you can tell which point of view each chapter is written in during the first few sentences. I absolutely loved her vocalization of Zelda. The book itself is just breathtaking. There is so much beauty in it, but also much darkness. As it's been said, though, you can't truly appreciate the light if you haven't experienced the dark. The contrast between the "evil" characters and the good ones just amplifies the beauty and light even more. I loved this book from the first chapter to the last, and I'll definitely be revisiting it again like an old friend.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
emily puerner
Such a beautiful, fantasy. I saw the ads for the movie, for whatever reason, didn't make it so when the book came out, I grabbed it. I'm in love with this beautiful story. Elisa is a mute who works for a research firm. The firm has captured an amphibian 'man'. Enough said. Other than Elisa and her beautiful shoes...made my heart ache. The book does bounce between characters and their point of view but it is easily followed. If the movie is half as good as the book, I can see why it won the Oscars. I will read this book again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
dominic
I've still not seen the movie, but I was enchanted by the book. Though the writing is uneven, the story kept me swiping the pages until the magical ending. If the movie has the same violent edge as the book, I would probably not make it through. But none of the mayhem was gratuitous in the book version, and I gather the same is true for the movie. The creature's capturer was fascinating but less complex than I would have expected, given his depredations on the "specimen", his colleagues, and his own family. Both the creature and the woman who falls in love with him are just right for this modern fairy tale, which is a treat for the imagination.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
echo
This book was absolutely amazing and riveting. I have not yet seen the movie, which I understand was made prior to the writing of the book. However, the movie in my mind was created by the wonderful collaboration of the writers and will stay with me for some time. From the intrigue to the love portions of the book -with plenty of thought provoking subtext - this book will play on your emotions and pre-conceived ideas about "what is human?"
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
varacious reader
I enjoyed the movie, but the book was just ok. There were a lot of sections devoted to Strickland, which were not in the movie. You get an insight into his twisted perspective that gives you an understanding but not empathy. The "creature" felt like a side character in the book. Perhaps it is difficult to humanize the creature without a name esp when he's/it's often being referred to as "the creature." Besides Strickland, I didn't find the characters to be very 3 dimensional. I did appreciate Lanie's story line, but I can see why it was left out in the movie.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer frigge
Harrowing and emotional, this book starts out strong and finishes stronger. A clear and multifaceted romance with characters falling in and out of love and exploring new freedoms in a subvert horror context. Guillermo Del Toro's penchant for color-coding rings true in the serene blue, visceral red, sickly yellow, and radioactive green words, making the narrative refract into a cinematic rainbow.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
russell
I’d heard this was a classic so I kept reading and turning the pages thinking this new page would be where this book would stop rambling and get better. Even to the last page I kept going, but it never happened.
The story was good but it chopped and changed too much. Without a segway suddenly they’d be in a new location with new characters. It was hard to follow and consequently enjoy. I hope the film is better. I have high hopes.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
yomna
I was honestly very taken aback by this novelization. I'm not quibbling over little details changed here and there, that's to be expected. What really left a sour taste in my mouth about this book is how it just blatantly disregarded, and often even perverted, the spirit of the film.

One of the things that resonated so much with such a wide audience about Del Toro's Oscar-winning film was how it subverted the genre and spoke to people that too many stories too often don't. The protagonist is a disabled woman, directly supported by a black woman and a gay man. What is so appealing about The Shape of Water is that it takes a narrative that is so often othered by and passed over in favor of the falsely lauded "default" narrative of an able-bodied, straight, cis, white man, and gives someone else a chance to display their humanity. It was incredibly disheartening to see this deliberate representation undermined in the novelization by the inclusion of so much time spent vying to engender sympathy for the villain of the film.

The single most jarring aspect of the book was the heavy-handed shoehorning in of rationalizations for Strickland’s behavior. In the novel, blame for Strickland’s behavior is passed up the line to General Hoyt time and time again. What’s so terrifying in Michael Shannon’s portrayal of the character is the remorseless, calculated ruthlessness of Richard Strickland. In the novelization, that’s watered down as, time and time again, the reader is given paltry excuses, if not validations, for his actions, and then the abhorrence of those actions are further undermined by incredibly out-of-character inner dialog that makes Strickland in the novel an awkward, bumbling man struggling with a mental breakdown even before arrival at Occam, whose actions, while heinous to even himself, are often portrayed as out of his control.

The choice to go in this direction with Strickland’s character, and furthermore to spend such a huge chunk of the book narrated from his perspective, was a choice that honestly colored my entire experience of the book negatively. Instead of being portrayed as an object of revulsion and horror as he is so masterfully in the film by Shannon, in the novel, the attempt is made—and made poorly, in my opinion—to depict Strickland as more of an object of pity than anything else.

There were other, subtler things about the book that were really big turn-offs for me, and added an undercurrent of misogyny that really was not present at all in the film, and was grating and out of place in the book.

I very much disliked several choices the author made in the portrayal of Elisa and Zelda in particular. It was another case of a male author floundering to write female characters, and that was very disappointing. It left a bad taste in my mouth how much time was spent on the two female characters’ personal insecurities in their internal dialog, when they are portrayed as confident in themselves in the film. Zelda is more than once self-conscious of her weight, which I felt was an unnecessary inclusion. Yes, women are often self-conscious of their size, especially in a society that reinforces thin as the ideal, but to mention it as many times as the novel did, and in the contexts it did, was not needed.

It was especially uncomfortable how, when introducing the character during her morning routine, the author chose to have Elisa dwell on past sexual assault while masturbating. That choice was in very poor taste; if it was something that needed highlighting at all, it should have taken place at a different time, in a different context. With the acting, camera, and cutting choices made in the film, Elisa masturbating is treated in a tasteful, matter-of-fact way. The book’s voyeuristic treatment of the scene was highly unpleasant and un-called for.

I also really, really did not care for the choice to extrapolate so much on Elisa’s relationship with The Asset driving such a deep wedge into her relationship with Zelda. This is only nominally present in the film as Zelda taking a moment to get on board with helping during the heist and the decision to make that into a full-blown falling out that began much earlier was a poor one, in my opinion. Too often female characters are pitted against each other instead of cooperating, and that’s a misogynistic trope that needs to die out. There is little evidence of this in the film and the addition to the book was frustrating and added little else.

Many of the choices the author chose to make in regards to The Asset were strange as well. Xenomorph jaws? Really? (Don’t feed the trolls, ik pharyngeal jaws exist in nature. Doesn’t make it less of a weird creative decision.) The animal mind-control? What even was that?

To add insult to injury, the revelation thrown in at the last second that Elisa’s “scars” were in fact gills all along…fell flat for me. I feel that it detracted from the story overall and should have been omitted. The entire point is that Elisa is an unremarkable human being who gets swept up into a fairy tale. To flip that into a ‘changeling’ coming home narrative is interesting, but I feel misplaced. It takes away from the empowering feeling that ‘this sort of thing could happen to anyone,’ and that is the entire point. Elisa is special and lucky and important not because of who she is as a person anymore, but by an accident of birth, and to me that’s just a hand-waving, dues ex machina cop-out. That The Asset possesses extraordinary healing powers and was able to create gills in Elisa during the process of reviving her is easier to swallow by comparison, and is in fact better set up and supported in the narrative.

The one thing I honestly enjoyed in this book was the expansion of Laney Strickland as a character. I very much appreciated how she discovered and claimed agency for herself, and made the choice to leave Richard on her own even before his death. That was well done, to be sure, and her characterization felt more natural than that of Elisa or Zelda. That’s a bit disappointing, and I want to say it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that she’s able-bodied, white, and middleclass and therefore probably more relatable to the author, but damned if that isn’t what it seems like. As much as I appreciated this choice, it wasn’t enough to redeem the book as a whole for me on its own, and overall I’d still give it 1 star.

I wanted to return this book only hours in. I was very tempted, but I was also holding out hope that it would resolve, and get better. It never, ever did. It honestly didn’t even feel like an adaptation of the same work. It really felt to me like the novel was written by a person who is used to telling and consuming stories written for and about men like Strickland. The author sympathized with Strickland, and tried so hard throughout the course of the book to get the audience to do the same—a decision that makes absolutely no sense for The Shape of Water, and I hated that. I hated that a story written for people like Elisa and Giles and Zelda and Dmitri, a story that inverts the monster/outcast narrative, was twisted and strayed so far from the spirit of Del Torro’s intent.

TL;DR 1 out of 5 stars. If you liked the film, don’t bother with the novel; it’s a waste of time.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
lisa cox
I began this work with high anticipation of a beauty and the beast type story but the "beauty" & "beast" of this book are hardly delved into. Action is a passive concept in this book and instead what you get is mostly the thoughts of characters you wouldn't give a hoot about. Strickland is a horrid character and to have to slog through his thoughts for most of the book was even more horrid. The author is trying to coerce me to sympathize with him and it never feels natural. The chapters with the main characters you want to read about are few and far in between.

I experienced this book in audio format and I absolutely hated it. I doubt I would have finished it if I had been reading it rather than listening.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jeremy bellay
A really fantastic read. So many parallels with what is common today in lives of women, the poor, the elderly, those of low economic status run through out this book. Along with the common military thread of acquiring and then attempting to exploit for gaining more power.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
leila mikaeily
I was surprised by how nuanced this book was. It's written beautifully and really gives a lot more backstory than the movie did. Characters that don't get much time in the movie are really well-developed in the book. If you saw the movie and you loved it, you will REALLY love the book!
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
kendra camplin
After hearing that the film was marvelous and magical -- I tried to like this book, and I tried to finish it, but did not succeed. The plot is flimsy, the characters one-dimensional and unrealistic, and the writing incredibly annoying, riddled with ridiculous similes and even an occasional grammatical error. "Fear drops onto Giles's back like a pterodactyl shot from the sky." Save your money, save your time.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kellian clink
This is one of those books that resonates with you long after the last word is read. I purchased the audio version and the narrator does a stellar job, but I also intend to purchase a hard copy so I can re-read it again and see the words.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
marilyn f
unbelievable story and much better than the movie, not just because its the book but because so much more happens and is significant to the mute girl. How do we not show the significance of the shoes in the movie. READ this Book!!! ;)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
fira
I very much enjoyed Del Toro's film, but the book adds so much depth to the story. Strickland's hunting and capture of the creature. His wife's dissatisfaction with their life. Every major character is expanded upon. It is beautifully written and stays engaging even after having seen the film
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
pamela rich
I did not see the picture, but after reading the book, I'm not sure I will even though it won best picture. I hated the book, and I'm so sad I spent $12 for this digital book. Too bad I can't return it. I t was just like the movie Splash, with Tom Hanks. I loved that movie. That, at least was a comedy and had good stars and good acting. This book dragged on and on about all the secondary characters and the only good part of the book was the last chapter. That was a little exciting, especially since I knew it was coming to an end.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
ann marie
This was painful to listen to. The most pointless details were belabored forever. Like Giles’ discussion on the proper way to brew tea, and Lanie’s introspection on how it can reverse sexism. Lanie’s story was altogether pointless.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
laurel
Well, I hope the novel is better than the 'acclaimed?' movie. I found the movie to be something between a spoof and a satire. The three day rule about fish was not lost on me, as his scales began to shed off.
It was an okay movie (I loved the time frame) until the fish danced like Fred Astaire in a dream sequence. (spoof?)
I wondered why I was watching this and not getting my laundry done. Hopefully the book is better?
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
joe zeidner
One of the worst books I have ever read! God awful writing! I stuck with it because I was interested in the story, but it just got dumber and dumber, and had one of the cheesiest ending I have ever read. Really lousy stuff! Now I don't even want to see the movie.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
yoshi
I saw the movie trailer and thought this book looked so interesting, and romantic Beauty and the Beast and a little misunderstood 'Creature from the Black Lagoon'. NO! The book has several pages with the character in a jungle, full of hate, vile descriptions, of death, suffering, animal cruelty, masturbation, murder. Filthy and disgusting. it is the worst thing I have ever tried to read. To make it worse, because I saw the movie and wanted to read it, then watch it- I bought a gift copy for my daughter to read too. I was quite embarrassed, and ashamed of that gift as soon as I started reading. Both have been returned!
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