- Character development through interaction with animals. We instantly love two of the main characters because of their affection for animals. They sneak food to them. They risk danger in order to protect animals from the bad guys. On the flip side, the bad guys jump off the page with their viciousness. At one point a lit cigarette is flicked into the elephant's open mouth. In another scene, we suffer through the elephant's cries as she's beaten mercilessly.
- First person present tense is not just for YA literature. Obvious, I know. But before reading The Hunger Games, I don't remember having read a book with this POV. YA literature is riddled with first person/present tense, and now I'm used to it. I thought it worked in this book, even though it's not YA.
- Alternating points of view with the same character adds depth. In ELEPHANTS, the author deftly switches between two eras of the main character's life. One is in the 1930's, when the MC was a young man traveling with the circus. The other is when he's an old man, wasting away in a nursing home. It made me think of each person sitting in a nursing home now, and all the stories they must have bottled up inside them.
- Brilliant words that add sound. Clatter, howl, nicker, screech, clackety-clack, clip-clop, snort. These sound words, and many more, added dimension to the story. I felt like I was there, listening to the raucous life of a circus.
- Circus life sounds exciting, but it was a gritty business. I read the author's note at the end of the book, where she explained the depth of her research. Many of the circus scenes and ideas in the book sound outrageous, but they're based on fact. Wow.
Now that I've read the book, I want to see the movie. Have you read this book or seen the movie? What was your opinion?