Cover Image: Animal

Animal

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I loved Lisa Taddeo's first book Three Women, so I was looking forward to her fiction debut. Unfortunately, the characters didn't seem real to me and the writing felt choppy.
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I absolutely loved Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, but unfortunately Animal was just not for me. Taddeo is certainly talented and I could definitely see the appeal for other readers however. The writing seemed a bit disjointed, and I'm not sure if the lack of quotation marks is just in the ARCs or will also be in the final copy, but that always makes reading a little more confusing.
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I am so grateful to live in a time where it's almost guarnteed that readers of general fiction or nonfiction or like, even the newspaper, are aware of the apocryphal attributed Matwood Maxim "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."
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What does a lifetime of trauma and abuse at the hand of men do to a woman? How does a woman who's been abused and taken advantage of, and traumatized survive? At the heart of it, I think these are the questions that Lisa Taddeo is attempting to answer with Animal. A novel that unravels slowly as Joan, our main character, tells her story to an unknown listener, one whom she speaks to directly throughout, as if explaining herself and imparting her wisdom.  

I was enthralled. Joan is a complicated character, obsessed with sex, but also perhaps a victim of believing she needed to become the woman that everyone believed her to be or wants her to be. She vacillates between relishing the role she plays, and despising it and herself throughout. And to be honest, as a reader, I was right there with her. Is she someone to be pitied or feared? Is she the victim of society? A victim of the men who have abused her and used her or is she using them for her own needs? While she wasn't entirely a likable person, it certainly made me think twice about the molds we place on children, especially young girls, long before they even know who they are, and the repercussions it can have through their lives.  

Did you love Three Women? This one's for you. I'm still processing this one and I think I will be for a long time to come.
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I'm still trying to wrap my head around what exactly it is I have just read.

I also can't really explain anything that happens in the book because I feel like it's something you need to experience for yourself. This isn't really a book you read, it's a book you feel. I couldn't even rate this if you asked me to.

Joan, a thirty-seven year old living in NYC witnesses a shocking event one night while out to dinner. It unleashes in her about 27 years worth of trauma - at the hands of many men that have come into her life. She packs up and heads to LA to search for a woman named Alice who might be able to help her sort through it all. It's dark. It's heavy. The tension builds very, very slowly until all of a sudden you're flying down in the rollercoaster, stomach dipping, everything a blur, and you're not really sure what is up, down, and around.

I'm conflicted. Because on the one hand, I understand what Taddeo is trying to accomplish here, but on the other, there were some scenes that were just...A LOT for me. And ya'll know me, I don't easily get squeamish and I can handle pretty much anything, BUT there were a couple of things that crossed the line for me. (I will share the CW's at the end). They came off as trying to be "edgy" and "shocking" but really just seemed gratuitous and unnecessary for me. One scene truly horrified me.

It's a book that some will either love or hate, but it is definitely a book that will start a lot of conversations. Did I love it or hate it? Gang...I truly don't know, and I honestly don't know if I ever will.

Thank you Avid Reader Press & NetGalley for the eARC.

This is out June 8th!

⚠️CW⚠️
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Rape, including very detailed Child Rape. Miscarriage (VERY detailed).
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Definitely some cringe worthy moments in this sexually candid story of a woman and the men in her life. The main character is not completely likable because of her choices but I found myself turning pages quickly to see how she would relate to the wife and daughter of a former lover or a female customer with whom she connects. This comparison of relating to different sexes make the novel highly readable. Well written but the content can be stark.

Copy provided by the publisher and NetGalley
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Listen up. Are you comfortable with being uncomfortable?

Because if you are, this one will take you right to the precipice of sitting in uncomfortableness. And it’ll leave you up there for a long time.

This was my first Lisa Taddeo book, and after all the rave reviews about Three Women, I knew I wanted to read it. Animal is one of those books you’re going to want to read alongside others. And I do not mean a ‘let’s all read this and chat about it on the 12th July’ type discussion. If you decide to read this, find people to read it with, agree on a few chapters to read every few days and discuss it bit by bit. Because there is so much to digest, you’re going to pause and gasp/shout out, ‘WHAT?’ every so often.

And trust me when I say that you’re going to need someone to respond immediately to that.

✨ℝ𝕖𝕧𝕚𝕖𝕨✨
We’re all animals. But how often do we forget that? We have rules, morals, ethics. They stop most of us from acting on our pure, unfiltered instincts. Let me ask you something. How often have you given in to your instincts? What would happen if you acted out on those thoughts you have? The fleeting ones or the ones that you squash down because they are not ‘nice’?
 
Lisa explores the notion of these instincts and what can happen when our instincts take over logic, societal rules and morality. 
It WILL make you feel dirty and gross but you won’t be able to stop.
It WILL make you question ideas and notions but you won’t be able to stop.
It WILL shock you but you won’t be able to stop.

And if you’re ok with all that, pick this book up and get comfortable with being uncomfortable for a few days.
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Holy hell, this book. After reading THREE WOMEN, Lisa Taddeo's non-fiction book from 2019, I had an idea about what I was getting into with this novel, but I was not fully prepared. I did have some issues with THREE WOMEN (its hard to write a book about *womanhood* using only three white female perspectives) but it made me really appreciate Taddeo as a fantastic writer, and excited for what a novel could bring out in her. Well, strap in because ANIMAL is raw, uncomfortable, traumatic, and addictive. 

Every once in a while I like to describe books as an experience, and this is 100% one of those times. You just have to let yourself go and take the ride, trusting the author will guide you through and it becomes somewhat of a transformative experience. In these cases, I hate to describe the plot too much because that deadends the journey. However here, we have Joan our narrator who has gone through trauma after trauma in her life and has packed up and moved from NYC to LA to both run away from her past, and start fresh. But we know that is impossible, and as we follow her making her way in LA with some unseemly characters, while also going back into the past to get more of a perspective on what she is running from. All questions are answered and the ending is almost cinematically climactic. This is a tough book, not for everyone, but if you like being tested and reading books about women taking revenge for themselves and the patriarchy, this is a must-read. 

CW: parent loss, child loss, sexual assault, rape, murder, blood, suicide
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Well, I can honestly say this harsh, stunning, stimulating work of the author is an intense punch to the gut and not for everyone’s cup of tea! It’s bold, it’s direct, it’s complex, it’s thought provoking and it’s truly disturbing!

  It is about boiling anger restrained by the anti heroine for years of mental, physical abuse, neglect that drag her to form so much dysfunctional relationship patterns. At the end she makes so many worst choices which result with more self destructive, hurt and fury! 

She slowly destroys her human self and let the animal takes the driver seat: because she’s sick of being a victim and she chooses to become hunter to let the despicable souls pay for what they’d done to the women. 

  It’s unique attempt empowered with feminism, a struggling and incredibly angry woman’s rising up and fighting back story! 

  I can give more than three stars after the effective opening freezes your blood: Joan : self destructive heroine, having hard time to adjust her new life in NY, trapped in a forbidden relationship with her sugar daddy/ married boss and as her relationship becomes more toxic, things get more out of control, resulting with the man’s suicide before her eyes.

  She decides to make a clean slate by moving to L. A. : the real reason behind her moving decision is finding Alice she has known from her childhood and she’s fixated on her as her life is depending on reconnecting with her again. 

  But changing her location brings out buried ugly feelings from her and slowly she lets her inner animal walk out free and inner change turns her into vicious avenger who is targeting the men to compensate years of neglect and abuse she’s been suffering!

  The idea is great but Joan was one of the most unlikable heroine who is not easily to resonate with. I tried so hard to empathize with her problems but she’s so hard to get invested. 

Writing style was direct but the emotional depth and after effects of the mind blowing incidents were missing. The dark sarcastic tone of narration makes you question if the heroine told you the truth that she wasn’t a sociopath. 

  Lack of connection with the main character prevented me to get more invested in this story. But it was still fresh fiction start from Three Women’s author. I’m still looking forward to read more of her future works!

  Special thanks to NetGalley and Avid Reader/ Simon& Schuster for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.
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Joan is not an easy character to like but as a woman her rage is understandable. Sick of a world that is male dominated where women are treated badly Joan unleashes her rage. Joan had not had an easy life, plagued by death and heartbreak and now it seems like murder is her only option. Much like her first book, which was nonfiction, “Three Women”, Taddeo seems determined to make the world look at the feminine experience and really analyze the world we live in. An excellent fiction debut!
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Whew. Powerful. Predator vs Prey is the main theme in this incredible novel.  I found this book disturbing and complex and rich in the author’s description of sexual violence and how it alters a woman’s life. I don’t want to give away the plot or the techniques the author uses in switching from 1st to 2nd person - know that it’s rich and thoughtful and violent and will leave you thinking / this one will stay with me. You should read it. 

Thank you to Avid Reader Press and Simon and Schuster for this magnificent novel. I’m grateful.
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This book was not for me. I detested the main character Joan. I really didn't connect to her and just found her kinda awful. I found many of the scenes disgusting and difficult to read. I know that this was really the author's intent but, I believe books should also provide some sort of pleasure and enjoyment. This book gave none of that to me. I really just couldn't wait for it to be over. The book dragged in many places only to be somewhat thrown together at the end. 

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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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; fearless...so good.
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