The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water

Book - 2018 | First edition.
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In an otherworldly story set against the backdrop of Cold War-era America, an amphibious man is discovered in the Amazon--and subsequently finds love within the human race.
1962. Elisa Esposito-- mute her whole life-- works as a janitor working the graveyard shift at Baltimore's Occam Aerospace Research Center. Only Zelda, a protective coworker, and Giles, her loving neighbor, help her make it through her day. Then she sees something she was never meant to see: an amphibious man, captured in the Amazon, to be studied for Cold War advancements. Using sign language, the two learn to communicate. Richard Strickland, the obsessed soldier who tracked the asset through the Amazon, wants nothing more than to dissect it before the Russians get a chance to steal it.
Publisher: New York : Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group, LLC, 2018.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781250165343
Branch Call Number: FIC TORO
Characteristics: 315 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Additional Contributors: Kraus, Daniel 1975-- Author


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Mar 10, 2020

This is a classic case of false advertisement, and the second time I have been sucked in by promises made by Guillermo Del Toro, only to have them grossly broken. (The first time was Pan's Labyrinth.) Granted, we aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover; but take a look at this one. When you look at this cover, you're promised a certain thing. Anthropomorphic fish god. Woman falling in love with said fish god over the course of the story. While this is true, it's only 1/3 of the book. The rest of the book is padded with unnecessary characters, gratuitous violence, and constant reminders of "oh yes, this is the 60's in Baltimore." There was way too much of the villain, Strickland, and his horrible thoughts, his background, and his mind-altering journey to discover the creature. Then we're given chapters of Strickland's wife Lainey and children (WHY?), some Russian scientist with connections to the mob which has zero bearing on the story (seriously, remove him and the story doesn't change at all), and large sections of Elisa's friend Zelda and her thoughts. Why the author didn't focus more on the important parts of the story- Deus Branquia, the ACTUAL fish man? Why didn't we get legends or myths or backstory about him? Apparently he just EXISTS and we have to accept it. There's no explanation of his magic or abilities. There's not enough of him and Elisa together. Had I been reading the physical copy, I would have simply skimmed all the uninteresting parts (2/3 of the book) and only read about what made me pick up the book in the first place. Del Toro promises a fantastical story, and then proceeds to give a small bit of fantasy mixed in with a large amount of violence and evil, typically coming from one particular person. Oh wait! I get it! The human is the actual monster, and the monster looking thing is the kind, humane one! (sarcasm) Real subtle. This is the kind of book that makes me angry- because the idea is a great one, but wow, is the execution terrible. No matter what promises Del Toro makes in the future, I won't be falling for them.

Oct 31, 2018

I really loved the concept of this as a movie but got too stressed out by it to finish the film, so I was quite pleased to see a written version. For the most part, I enjoyed it more than the film--it remains subtle, but is easier (for me at least) to make sense of what's going on. Its themes of marginalization, hope, and state violence shine through. The writing itself is gripping and visually stunning, and reading it having watched (part of) the film really highlights the strengths of both mediums. The one place it falls short of the movie is that I don't feel it captured the use of sign language or it's importance very well. Part of this may be chalked up to sign being an inherently visual medium but, frankly, I've seen it done better. It exceeds the movie in its ability to naturally weave more detailed backstory into the action for all characters, and for my taste I really prefer not actually seeing some of the more grotesque body horror the story contains.

The major one nuisance I have is that the book version clearly markets itself as a romance. I a big fan of the occasional romance novel, but this is very much not one. To me it's more in the realm of a scifi or action/thriller book and the romance is secondary. It's important, it's tied in to the other overarching themes, but in my reading it doesn't even rate on the list of "most prominent themes" and I feel marketing the book as a romance does it a disservice. If you're looking for a romance, you're not really going to find one here.

Sep 05, 2018

Intriguing story but too much icky gratuitous violence for my taste that detracted from the story.

Del Toro is exceedingly talented in painting a picture, in getting descriptions across that are nearly as vivid as reality. I was not a fan of how he handles chapters (ranging from three or four pages to three or four paragraphs), but I'll admit it feels vaguely like watching a movie that transitions scenes, albeit a bit too rapidly.

Though a period work, it is very difficult to connect with the book. I found it far too easy to detest the antagonist, who I can best describe as 'the worst human being imaginable.'

Jul 18, 2018

I didn't really care for this book. For a story based on feelings, I didn't "feel" the characters. At times I felt like it was all over the place. Just jumping into the story line of each character without really knowing the why's of any of it.

Jun 19, 2018

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, all the characters are so richly portrayed you even end up liking, in a way, the crazy military man. I have not yet seen the the movie, but I feel like I will appreciate it alot more now that I've read the book.

Jun 01, 2018

Surprisingly good for a book "inspired by the movie". Thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and the movie probably made more sense since I had read the book.

May 10, 2018

I have not yet seen the current film of the same name, but am looking forward in seeing it. I did enjoy the book, and once I got into the pattern of writing, the story kept my interest and wanted to keep reading to see how it would end.
This is the first book I have read by these authors.

Jan 14, 2018

Note that this is "the novel of the idea that inspired the motion picture" and not the film. Also that del Toro is known for making films, not writing novels; but if it is like the film, this book should be at least interesting.


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