Cover Image: Animal

Animal

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I really loves Lisa Taddeo's nonfiction book Three Women, so I was looking forward to reading her novel Animal. It did not disappoint. The book grips you from the very first chapter and I read it in two sittings. After a shocking incident at the beginning of the book, our protagonist Joan flees New York City to move across country on a journey of self-discovery. She tries to deal with the rage she has toward the men and their cruelty she has experienced in her life. A very dark book, but uplifting at the same time.

Was this review helpful?

Three Women was one of my absolute favorite books of 2018, but Taddeo's dip into fiction just wasn't as exciting to me. There were parts of this story I really enjoyed.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Avid Reader Press and NetGalley for the ARC of this ebook..

I read this book a couple of months ago and wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to say in my review. It was a difficult book to read. I didn’t like any of the characters and especially the main character. I struggle with books where that is the case. I couldn’t relate to her in any way. She seemed to focus on trauma and was highly emotional. I thought it took a long time for the story to make sense and then I wasn’t sure it was worth the wait. I felt that the plot was weak and strung out through the book.

Was this review helpful?

I really liked Three Women, but had a difficult time getting into this book. I totally understand why this book is receiving so much praise—I, too, often love a slightly off tone coupled with an angry, unlikeable female narrator—but Animal and Joan didn’t do it for me. I think I felt too out of the loop for too long, and the book ultimately didn’t have the momentum or ending I hoped for. I’ll still pick up Taddeo’s next book, but this one wasn’t for me!

Was this review helpful?

This was a much hyped book for me and Taddeo's first foray into fiction. If you like books by Ottessa Moshfegh I feel like this book will be up your alley. Told as a story to an unknown at start 'you', the main character Joan drops hints at the traumas she experienced as a child and an adult as she seeks out the mysterious Alice. This book starts with a bang and keeps you hooked until the end. While the twists were somewhat easy to guess there was more to keep you on your toes.

Was this review helpful?

Wow! Just wow. I loved this one ALOT. Gritty, unsettling, trigger-warnings galore but oh so good. This completely compelling story of Joan, a damaged young woman taking back some kind of power, had a California-noir vibe, and is full of rage. At times a victim, at times she is cruel and almost always making terrible decisions. I love Lisa Taddeo’s writing so much, it creeps under my skin. I love how my every sense felt assaulted, every aroma she describes, every gruesome event, so real. Dark, dirty and brilliant.

Was this review helpful?

Lisa Taddeo writes about the female psyche better than anyone. Animal is dark and brutal, even gruesome at times. I couldn’t stop reading it.

I loved Three Women, Taddeo’s debut nonfiction, and was worried that her fiction wouldn’t resonate with me as much, but her sharp takes on male power, the use of female sexuality, and how society views it all comes through in many of the same ways.

Was this review helpful?

This book portrays a very difficult journey of anger, abuse, and trauma that is very eye-opening to read. Joan is a character who has witnessed the worst things life can create, written in a blunt and strategic way so that you can see how her mind operates. This story is powerful. Tragic and frightening, but powerful.

Was this review helpful?

what was this? I don't even know how to categorize it. I didn't hate it but I definitely didn't love it. The writing felt too stream of consciousness at times and I couldn't get behind the terrible protagonist. Ultimately I think just...not the book for me.

Was this review helpful?

This book was DARK and had an absolutely fascinating premise, similarly to Taddeo's last book. Unfortunately, my feelings were also similar in that I wanted to know SO much more about Joan. Yes she is unlikeable a lot of the time, and I'm okay with that, but she just felt a little bit far away. I still really enjoyed the ride though and am glad to have read it!

Was this review helpful?

I read Lisa Taddeo's nonfiction debut Three Women shortly after it was published. I thought it was great. I was curious when I saw she was publishing a work of fiction and immediately requested it. What I read was nothing like what I expected. 

Before I start my review, I want to note that if you are sensitive to any triggers, you may want to avoid this book. I mean any trigger ever. This book has them all and does not touch on anything lightly. 

Animal is Taddeo's fiction debut that examines the visceral rage ignited by one woman's experience living in a male-dominated world. This book is like nothing I have ever read before. If I had to describe Animal in two words, they would be "dark" and "depraved." 

Summarizing this book is extremely difficult without giving anything away. I think it is good to go into the book expecting triggers and craziness but knowing nothing of the plot. Joan, the main character, has a textbook Electra complex (female equivalent of Oedius complex) that Freud would go ga-ga over. This woman will not shut up about about her dead father or sex. Her mind goes straight there when encountering anything and everything. Be prepared for that and know that if you are going to like this book, you have to stick with it until the end, for better or worse. The first 15 percent or so I was groaning and annoyed, but I wanted to know where this was going and it paid off.

Animal is written as a stream of consciousness, which initially drove me crazy, but as I read on, I found that I did not mind it at all. It simply took some time getting used to. I will say that Taddeo's writing in this book is pretentious to the max and clearly she was aiming to win all the literary awards with this book. It is a bit obnoxious and unnecessary. In addition, every event and action in this book is excessive and over the top. I will let you qualify if that is a positive or negative. Also be warned that she continues the pretentiousness and tries to have an evocative "style" by not including quotation marks. (You are not Nadine Gordimer; stop trying to be.)

I have seen some people call this book torture porn, and I would argue that it definitely is not. For one, there are positive events and growth. And most importantly, the events in this book serve an overall purpose and create the point that Taddeo is aiming to communicate, which I will let you discover for yourselves. I do think that Taddeo could have achieved the same things without triggering every person who reads it and calling everything rape, except actual rape which she calls sexual assault (seriously.) But I have to admit that it was completely effective in evoking feelings and thought.

So after all this, you may be wondering how I felt about this book. There is definitely a lot to unpack, and I had to really think about this book after I finished it. Ultimately, I liked Animal. It made me think a lot and feel a bit too. Would I recommend it to everyone? Absolutely not. There are a lot of people that will (or do) hate this book. It is without a doubt divisive and not for everyone. If you need the protagonist to be likeable, skip this book. If you have triggers, skip this book. But if you are looking for something different that is a commentary on America and women, you may want to take a dive into Animal.

Was this review helpful?

This book was a lot. It was intense from the start. I was captivated and also appalled of Joan's story. She was a difficult character that had been through so much trauma and always found herself in unfortunate circumstances.

While this book is really good, I'm not sure I'd recommend it to just anyone. You need to know going in to this book that you have to be tough to read it.

TW (and possible spoiler alert):
miscarriage/pregnancy loss (and many others, you can DM me for more)

If you are part of the worst club in the world, the one nobody wants to be apart of like I am, please consider the TW before reading. I didn't know of this and even if I did, I still probably would have read it because I've had almost two years of healing from my miscarriage (not that it ever gets easier, it doesn't). But the description of the pregnancy loss in this book as well as the discardment of the fetus was repulsive and Joan was so insensitive to the entire situation. I cried and cried over that scene, unfortunately that will probably be a scene that always sticks with me.

Overall, the writing was well done and I was very engaged in this heartbreaking story. Read at your own risk 🤍

Was this review helpful?

Well, I can’t win them all!

This book was really hard for me to get into. I’ve read reviews of readers loving this story, but I had a really hard time wanting to pick this up each day. Maybe it was timing for me, maybe it was the content of the story, but it was a lot to handle.

Content warnings: abuse, trauma, ableism, murder, suicide, miscarriage.

This is a story filled with numerous wild episodes from Joan's life. Some disturbing, some sexual, but all tend to show her as a self-centered, home wrecking human from the jump. She introduces herself as depraved, which never left my mind the entire book.

There is a lot to take from this book because there’s a lot happening, and despite this story not being for me, Joan sees herself as the monster of the story, or animal if you will. She is convinced she deserves all that she receives due to the choices she makes.

I felt weird, but also sad and angry that these extremes do exist in real life. Joan just wanted to be heard, unleashing her inner animal which I think each woman has related to before.

Big thank you to Libro FM and Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster for the ARC!!

Was this review helpful?

The main character was very hard for me to relate to. In fact, none of the characters were especially appealing to me. They did all manifest a sort of depraved reality that was at times confusing, yet eye-opening.

Thanks to NetGalley and Avid Reader Press for the ARC to read and review.

Was this review helpful?

I was disappointed by this book, it got better in the final third, but it was a hard -and for me boring - slog for the majority of the book. The first half was so choppy in timeline, point of view etc and just kept hinting at intrigue (all of which was actually quite predictable).

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC copy.

Was this review helpful?

After the man she’s been having an affair with commits a shocking act of violence in front of her, Joan flees New York for LA in search of Alice, the only person who may help her make sense of her past, a series of cruelties at the hands of men. Ultimately, it’s about a woman who looks for love, finds lust and companionable relationships but still feels empty.

This book was real, raw, and heavy. I didn’t love it, but I appreciated the writing, the strong voice of the main character, and since I ended up waiting for this in audio, Emma Roberts’ narration. I chose to wait, because I do enjoy Emma’s voice, and I think she brought the character to life in a beautiful way. I pictured her as the actress playing out this story as well as narrating it.

It’s a visceral journey into female rage and our collective “me, too” experiences as well as the desires in the deepest parts of our hearts, how we overcome our traumas, and the ultimate battle against loneliness.

It’s out now in print and audio, and I recommend both versions.

Was this review helpful?

There are no enough words in the human language to talk about how much I love this book. This is an emotional punch in the gut. I highly recommend reading this book, then going on a long walk with headphone playing all those riot grrl songs in your ears (Violet by Hole is a must.)

It's about trauma, about grief, about suffering, about terror, about the search for self, about finding the truth. It's fabulous and people are going to HATE IT.

Lisa Taddeo for President.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Was this review helpful?

In this extremely dark novel, we meet Joan, who has endured more trauma than any one person should ever experience. It is a story of trauma, of grief, of loneliness, of sex and sexual violence, of family, and of loss. There are many many trigger warnings and I am unsurprised this book seems polarizing when perusing its reviews.

Here's what I know: Taddeo's writing is visceral and emotional and gets into your mind in a way that doesn't let you rest until the story ends and the tightens in that arises in your chest while reading relents. Emma Roberts narrates the audiobook and the audiobook is phenomenal (thank you, Libro.fm for the ALC).

I am continually in awe of Taddeo's ability to write stories that challenge and explore difficult and complex topics. I don't think I would recommend this book to ~everyone~ because there are a lot of triggering actions in this book, but I do think it's compelling and for a contingent of readers who want something dark (rooted in revenge) that explores trauma and its effects on human-to-human relationships.

Was this review helpful?

"I am a lot of things but I’m not a sociopath."

What a powerhouse of a book! This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but if you are so inclined, grab the audiobook narrated by Emma Roberts. The audiobook version is the perfect marriage of narrator and material.

Violent from the very beginning, 'Animal' tells the story of Joan, who has just witnesses a public suicide that drives her away from New York City to Los Angeles. She is seeking the very mysterious Alice, who somehow holds a piece of the puzzle that is Joan's troubled past.

Joan has a history of affairs with married men, and men who are otherwise emotionally unavailable for her. The book is told in the first person as Joan narrates the story of her childhood, her relationship with her parents and her very tumultuous relationship with the men in her life.

"When I saw boys in the streets with their low-slung backpacks, I thought of the girls they liked, the girls who got to be eleven and twelve and thirteen, with unicorn stickers and slap bracelets. I did not get to be any of those ages. I was ten and then I was thirty, and then I was thirty-seven."

Lisa Taddeo has an unflinching view of women's sexuality and how men treat women. If you read 'Three Women' (a must!!) you know she writes with simple, beautiful and often evocative prose. As Joan's story begins to unfold, we learn that her family and her past was even darker than first revealed. Joan experienced much tragedy and that pain never seems to leave her. And it affects all of her adult relationships, with both men and other women.

"I had a fear of angering a man, of not being an amenable woman."

Emma Roberts WAS Joan to me and if this is ever made into a movie, she would be perfect (even though she is a few years younger than Joan in real life.) This book is unsettling to say the least but I found it to be incredibly addictive and moving. Who is Alice? And who is Joan addressing in her narrative when she says "you"? I won't forget this book and its sometimes brutal descriptions. Lisa Taddeo is a a brilliant writer and 'Animal' is one of my favorite audiobooks of 2o21.

"Cruelty looks better on a woman than the perfect dress."

Was this review helpful?

"Dark, very dark." These are the words that first come to mind in describing 𝐀𝐍𝐈𝐌𝐀𝐋 by Lisa Taddeo. The story is told by Joan, speaking to someone who isn’t revealed until late in the book. She’s telling of her life: the tragedies that were her childhood, the questionable choices she’s made, the sad life she’s led, the hatreds she formed, the depraved plans she holds, and the reasons behind it all. Throughout, I felt awful for Joan and her life, but at the same time I could not feel much sympathy for her. She was so damaged, so brutal, that I was almost always uncomfortable in her presence. I'm sure that was intentional. It's how I was supposed to feel. I think Taddeo wanted to elicit a big reaction, and she did. I just didn't like the way Joan made me feel.⁣

Taddeo’s writing was very literary, with her story delivered in a choppy style that forced this reader to pay attention, even when I wanted to turn away. There were a lot of tangents that I felt took away from the heart of Joan’s story. Her very raw narration sort of hit me over the head, but at the same time perhaps some of it may have been lost on me. ⁣

I know this review is a jumble and I’m sorry. I’ve struggled to write it for over a month. In the end, I can only say that I really expected to love 𝘈𝘯𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘭, but I just didn’t. There’s no doubt it’s a powerful book and will have people talking. I’ll be looking forward to hearing the thoughts of others on this one!⁣

Thanks to Avid Reader Press for the ARC of Animal.

Was this review helpful?