Cover Image: Animal


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Member Reviews

Thank you to Avid Reader Press and NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book in return for an honest review.

This book was a wild ride! I don't know that saying I enjoyed it is the right thing to say, but I certainly could not stop reading it. However, I don't know exactly how compelling the characters are -- the things that kept me reading are the information that is hidden until the end of the book. 

We have Joan who has had disastrous things happen to her that seem to have affected her whole life, as trauma does. She witnesses a violent act that was committed because of her and then travels to California to find a woman called Alice who is connected to her in ways only she knows. Joan is very obviously not "likable," delivering harsh truths about her own behavior and condemning it as she does so in a detached voice that is both disturbing and intriguing. At the same time, she is clearly this beautiful white woman who seems to get away with literally anything -- not unscathed, but she does survive. 

That is where I struggle here -- the story itself is compelling because there are so many blanks in the background that are dark and gruesome that you want to know, but I don't know what exactly the story is trying to show me. It's graphic in every way you can imagine, featuring on-the-page suicide, rape, assault of a child, murder, and miscarriage. And it's all delivered in this clinical fashion that seems to contradict Joan's early assertion that she is not a psychopath. 

This is a 3 stars for me. I don't know that I'll recommend it to other people but also I want someone else to read it so we can talk about it.
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Thank you so much to Avid Reader Press, Simon and Schuster and NetGalley for the ARC of this book.

I was so excited to get the ARC of this book by Lisa Taddeo, because I loved her first book sooo much and she doesn't disappoint in this one.

This book is about what happens to females in a male-dominated society and THE RAGE OF AN EMPOWERED FEMALE! Thank you to author Lisa Taddeo for writing another great book. I can't wait to see what she writes next.

I recommend this book to everyone, including the MEN out there that who are bad, bad, bad. Maybe they will think twice next time they hurt us! Just kidding. Awesome book for men and women. 5 stars!
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This book was equal parts difficult and absorbing to read. It was a strange reading experience where I felt extreme discomfort in parts but at the same time could not put the book down. Some sections felt as if they were included purely to show off Lisa's writing chops instead of to advance the narrative. She is a phenomenal writer and I continue to be intrigued by everything she publishes.
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Wow! I went into this book blind, and I was blown away! Animal is one of the most powerful reads that I have seen in a long time. She touches some of the most sensitive issues with so much ferocity.
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Animal tells the story of a woman named Joan who, after witnessing the suicide of her married lover, leaves New York and travels across the USA to rent a house high in a canyon in Los Angeles. 

Along the way, Joan, the narrator, recounts and describes her relationships with her parents and men and as the story progresses, we learn more about her past and her reason for fleeing to California.

For the most part I enjoyed reading this book - Taddeo’s narrative voice is captivating despite some of the dark events in the story. This book contains many triggering scenes - suicide, murder, rape, miscarriage..
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This book is heavy, triggering, real, and raw. a book about sex, want, lust, affairs and toxic relationships. Our protagonist(?) Joan has been through a lot and as a result, she's become somewhat of a villain herself, making it sometimes hard to empathize with her. When we meet her at age 37 she is at a crossroads of leaving behind the life she has had in NYC, and moving forward to reinvent herself in LA. ALL of the men in Joan's life have been predatory and not dependable and so have the women along with growing up in a turbulent home. This has clearly resulted in Joan's inclination towards violence, her lack of ability to forgive, and her permanent scars from men who have abused and taken advantage of her. Again, this book focuses on power and trauma and it is graphic. The author's words are powerful and perfectly chosen. She has carefully chosen her language and wants you to be uncomfortable when reading this book.The ending was amazingly done! I absolutely loved the ending and felt so much better after having read what Joan had gone through. It will stick with me for awhile. This was well written, with a seamless flow through past and present, and the character development was remarkable.

Trigger warnings: rape, sexual assault, miscarriage, and suicide.
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Animal by Lisa Taddeo was a very unsettling read, and I mean that in a good way!

A few years ago when I sat down to read Lisa Taddeo’s debut nonfiction account of the desire and sexual lives of three women, I read it all in one compulsive and breathless sitting. Three Women’s fans will want to take that seat again, because Animal, Taddeo’s new and debut novel, will blow you away. 

When Joan .witnesses one of her boyfriends shoot himself in a restaurant, she flees to California in search of 
 Alice, the only woman she thinks can make sense of her horrific childhood that has turned her into someone who allows herself to be used and denigrated by men. 

For me, the writing provoked a very visceral reaction so I could not read in a single sitting. Although I needed to take breaks to process some of what happens to Joan, I still loved this book. .
Also, what a fantastic ending!
I loved Taddeo's story of a woman who's had enough as prey and turns herself into hunter. 
No doubt Animal will haunt with me for a long time.

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Taddeo writes effortlessly with such confidence. I had plans in the afternoon but canceled them and just kept reading. Bold, shocking; good.
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After devouring Taddeo's debut non-fiction title Three Women that details the intimate lives of three women struggling to fully own their desire and sexuality, reading her first fictional novel was a no brainer for me. Taddeo is in a class of her own when it comes to writing about the female experience, particularly female sexual experience as she accomplishes this with such detailed perception, appreciation of nuance, and understanding and lack of judgement behind the life of an individual. Animal is no exception. Taddeo is so accomplished and writes unlike any contemporary writer I know. I really respect this as novel that goes to the places, find the words to articulate what others do not dare, or cannot execute. 

In Animal we meet Joan, a young woman who escapes to the Topanga mountains to rebuild and reconnect with Alice: the only person who can fix her. We understand Joan in fragments, and in bursts. The narrative flips between present and past as we slowly uncover what has happened as Joan opens up to Alice. At times, the narrative feels chaotic, stressful, unsettling and suspicious. I love a book with an untrustworthy narrator, and this is certainly that. Although the plot continues to throw up one tragedy and then the other, I actually didn't really realize how on edge and tense I was throughout the entire read until the end; because finally at the end you can relax knowing there is no more pain as there are no more pages. 

There is definitely a trigger warning needed for this book: if you are triggered by anything to do with suicide, rape, abuse, adultery, murder this book is not for you. 

Joan's life has been invaded by repeated acts of violence, imposed upon her by significant men in her life. As she attempts to move on, it is apparent that these don't just haunt her, but that they are her. The trauma has shaped and moulded who she has grown up to become, and how she chooses to live now. The language is coarse, and raw, and bloody, as if nothing will make you realize we are all humans made from blood and guts more than this. I felt squeamish and sensitive, acutely aware of myself. It is a book about the vulnerability of being human, and about how the body can enact what sometimes the brain cannot process. It's about female rage, pain, and frustration and what happens when all of that is finally unleashed in the only way someone knows how. 

Taddeo's writing style is completely unique, she has the words and the style to articulate the female experience in a way that feels completely revolutionary. But this is not an easy to read page turner. The plot is disjointed, violent and forceful, but the narrative and creation of Joan feels delicate, sad and full of understanding. This book definitely won't be for everyone, but there's definitely a particular readership who will thrive on and appreciate Animal for the power-punch of a novel it really is.
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I was very impressed with and moved by Taddeo's first effort, which was a nonfiction exploration of the lives of three very different women. With her first fiction effort, I was disappointed. The main character Joan is an angry, depressed woman who is hell-bent on exacting revenge for the abuses and neglect she has suffered. She takes out her anger on unsuspecting individuals with which she has no emotional relationship. She pursues a woman who she presumes is her half-sister, and their reckoning doesn't take place until the last pages of the novel. Very creepy and sad work.
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It’s very hard to find words for this book. “Masterful” comes to mind. Lisa Taddeo can write fiction, CONFIRMED.

The protagonist, Joan, is so unlikeable and fascinating that the only comparison is Ottessa Moshfegh’s characters. This is a story about a hurt woman who hurts and is hurt by men, and as we zeroed in on the events that started all of this, the downward spiral of her life, I found myself leaning in. So much ugliness in these pages, but it’s irresistible.
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Trauma comes in many forms and impacts people in incredibly complex ways. Literature is full of both fictional and non-fictional depictions of trauma and its affects. Yet, it is still a topic that is fraught with stigma, denial, and shame. 

Lisa Taddeo tackles trauma head-on in her devastating debut novel “Animal”. This should come as no surprise after her widely acclaimed 2019 non-fictional “Three Women”. I work closely with trauma victims of all ages. I hear their stories. I help them cope. I am not easily stirred. Still, I was unprepared for how “Animal” would impact me. It was a disturbing read. 

Ms. Taddeo clearly knows what she is about. “Animal” reads like a true-fiction thriller. Every time you feel that you have now seen the depth of despair, you are welcome to take several more steps down into the abyss that Taddeo has prepared. 

There will be those who will accuse “Animal” of being “trauma porn”. That it is not. It is true, plausible, and all too real. With that said, no reader should enter without forewarning. There are multiple scenes that can trigger the most hardened. But for those interested in the impact of trauma and the implications for recovery, read on. You are in for an unforgettable experience.

Thank you to Simon Schuster Avid Reader Press and NetGalley for the dARC.
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I loved the book, with its dazzling representation of female rage and sharp, vivid writing. Fascinating characters and wonderful use of voice.
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This book was very unsettling (and I mean that in a good way)! When Joan witnesses one of her "boyfriends" shoot himself in a restaurant, she flees to California in search of Alice, the only woman she thinks can make sense of her horrific childhood that has turned her into someone who allows herself to be used and denigrated by men. We get lots of her past stories, people she's met (mostly men), and hints about her relationship with her parents in a dysfunctional family. The writing provokes a very visceral reaction to many scenes so this is not a book you may want to read in a single sitting. I adored the ending and even though this book will haunt and resonate with me for a long time, I loved Taddeo's story of a woman who's had enough as prey and turns herself into hunter!
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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! No spoilers. Beyond amazing I enjoyed this book so very much. The characters and storyline were fantastic. The ending I did not see coming  Could not put down nor did I want to. Truly Amazing and appreciated the whole story. This is going to be a must read for many many readers. Maybe even a book club pick.
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While I didn’t like this novel I quite as much as I did Three Woman (my favorite book of 2019), this is still a thoroughly entertaining read and one that I would very much recommend. Its narrative goes into some really unexpected places and I praise it for its originality and unwillingness to fit with general novel conventions. The consistent time-jumping, over abundance of side characters, and unusual concept may push some away but those looking for a unique read will devour this.
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While I agree with the idea of this book — the prey becoming the hunter — the narrative of this book is laid out much different than her previous book, Three Women. If one us looking for similar style, look elsewhere. 
For me, the beginning was rough and only got tougher. Missed the mark for me on this one, but I loved her previous book.
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This is a great book and a great follow up to three women. A woman who is been on the receiving end of mail toxicity decides she has enough.  Her path from women to animal  built on a lifetime of anger is stunning.  I highly recommend this book
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