Review 5-23-16

By: Karen Russell

I know what you all have grown to know and love on this blog, is my Fantasy and Science Fiction reviews, however I have recently been dipping my toes into the genres like Literary Fiction and Adult Fiction. I have been loving the books that I am reading in the genres, however that does not mean that I am done reviewing Fantasy and Sci-fi! I am just branching my reading tastes; and this book is one that any person can read and love. This book was recommended to me on Mercedes YouTube Channel, MercysBookishMusings I could not be happier that I took her advice and read this book!

Plot: "The Bigtree alligator wrestling dynasty is in decline--think Buddenbrooks set in the Florida Everglades--and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, is swiftly being encroached upon by a sophisticated competitor known as the "World of Darkness." 

Ava, a resourceful but terrified twelve-year-old, must manage seventy gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief. Her mother, Swamplandia!’s legendary headliner, has just died; her sister is having an affair with a ghost called the Dredgeman; her brother has secretly defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their sinking family afloat; and her father, Chief Bigtree, is AWOL. To save her family, Ava must journey on her own to a perilous part of the swamp called the "Underworld," a harrowing odyssey from which she emerges a true heroine." (Goodreads Link)

  • Love: 
    • This theme is seen on many occasions throughout the book, including the Bigtree children's interactions, and Ossie and the Ghost (Lewis Thanksgiving)
    • This theme is used very nicely throughout the book to emphasize lessons such as the importance of family and the pursuit of love and joy! 
    • Karen Russell knows how to write with powerful emotions and family connections and drama that I have never seen an author handle so brilliantly, that in itself should give this book a 5/5 rating however there is more to make this book brilliant!
  • Grief: 
    • The theme of grief and sadness is seen laced throughout this book, with the constant threat to Swamplandia and their home, watching their mother battle cancer, and the families separation in order to save the park! 
      • This books sends you on a rollercoaster of emotions, sad, happy and anguish are felt by the reader most often in this novel. I do like how these emotions are used, they seem to me to be in a logical place and not overplaying a situation as many authors do. 
    • If I was faced with this kind of grief and stress on my family relations, I would not remain as calm and resilient as the Bigtrees do! 
  • Danger/ Death: 
    • They wrestle Alligators for a living, meaning that each and everyone of the family must come to the conclusion that they are in danger each time they perform. Yet they perform for each new group of tourists that arrive to the Island, "the show must go on!"
  • Forgiveness: 
    • This book has a large family aspect interwoven with the prose, and the main conflict with the group is forgiving each other for the past between each other. 
      • Forgiveness is dealt with in the correct time and slow burning style as all other emotions are used in this book, giving the reactions a very relatable quality. 
My Thoughts:
  • Characters: 
    • These characters have become like siblings to me as I read this book! 
    • The Bigtree Tribe is very odd and eclectic, however their quirks allow any person to relate to them, regardless of your personal background or experiences. 
      • I was able to relate to the family even though I have never been to an Alligator wrestling show, or even the marshes of Florida that make up the fictional Swamplandia.
    • These characters are written with such flair and excellent usage of colloquial English that it gives the reader a sense of familiarity and immersion within the story. 
      • The characters speak at times in jilted English, this helps to remind the reader of their young age and the location of the book, the Floridian Peninsula. 
    • With this novel's heavy dependance on character growth and development, along with the realistic nature of each character I fell in love with this book! It houses everything that I love in a book!
  • Writing Style:
    • The writing style in this novel is very unique. 
      • The style is very simplistic and well crafted. 
      • Karen Russell is able to mix the slang of Swamplandia and modern/proper English to form sentences that will stay with you long after you turn the last page!
  • Audiobook Quality: 
    • I read this book through the Overdrive app on my phone, listening to the audiobook as I worked late into the night this passed week. 
    • I enjoyed the narrators, they each had a distinct tone even the two sisters were easily distinguished which added a great depth to the novel.
    • Though I loved this audiobook so greatly, I will be unable to listen to another book narrated by these guys without thinking of the Bigtrees and their sad tale. 
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars!
I cannot rate this book high enough, it has become one of my all time favorites and possibly my favorite of the year thus far! I am still astonished with the scope of this book and how well each topic was dealt with within the pages.

Happy Reading Everyone!
I hope you all are able to read something amazing this week. If you have a chance to pick up this book and read it, Tweet me at @Komondor70 because I would love to chat with you guys about this amazing novel!

P.S: There is going to be a photoshoot post coming later this week as soon as my physical copy arrives in the post! For now the mysterious Goodreads cover will have to do! Possibly a video later down the road too, because I love this book so much :)


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