Friday, April 13, 2018

Audiobook and Movie Review: The Shape of Water by Guillermo Del Toro and Daniel Kraus

Series:     The Protector #1
Pub. Date:March 6, 2018
Publisher:MacMillan Audio
Narrators:Jenna Lamia
Length:13 hrs 27 min

So this book is totally out of my wheelhouse for romances that I normally read, but I had heard of the movie and the sci-fi/fantasy aspect of the story intrigued me. Now that I have read the book, I decided to rent the movie to see how it compared. Stay tuned below for the movie review!

This story is told from multiple points of view, most of which I will touch on briefly below.

Richard Strickland is a soldier with very few ethics, who feels trapped in a relationship with General Hoyt due to his past misdeeds. After the Cold War, Richard is sent to the Amazon rainforest to acquire the Deus Brânquia, an amphibious man-like creature revered as a god by the locals. Unfortunately Richard loses his ever-loving mind in the rain forest, which will continue to impact him for the rest of the story. While there was an attempt to humanize Strickland with his early wants and desires to be home with his family, his cruel and murderous nature and lunacy really made it hard to sympathize with his plight.

Laney Strickland was Richard's wife, who realized that she wanted more from life. We see her struggling with her position in her marriage and society throughout the story. She didn't have a huge part of the narrative, but we glimpsed her life from time to time.

Dr. Bob Hoffstelter was a researcher and scientist at Occam, where the Deus Brânquia was held following its capture. Hoffstetler was more interested in the science and wonder of the sea god, and didn't really take part in Strickland's cruelty. Hoffstetler struggled throughout the story with his role in the experiment and the future fate of the creature. He was more of a sympathetic character, despite operating in a gray area for this tale. I liked that Hoffstetler saw the value of our heroine and didn't treat everyone around him like they were beneath him.

Zelda D. Fuller was one of my favorite characters. She is an African American janitor in 1960s America, struggling with her place in society as the civil rights movement surges forward. I loved the comedic aspect her character brought to the story, and the relationship between Zelda and Elisa was heartwarming.

Elisa Esposito is our heroine, a scarred and mute heroine at Occam with a penchant for pinup shoes. I have to admit that the shoe aspect threw me off and I couldn't quite picture her silver sparkly heels and janitors scrubs in my head. Eliza narrates the majority of the story and, through her, we experience feelings of wonder, hope, acceptance and love. I liked that our meek and mute character is the one who ended up with the most courage to befriend and rescue the Deus Brânquia from a very dangerous man. Yes, there is some fish sex but its not graphic and the creature was man shaped so it really wasn't different than most shapeshifter stories in that regard. I liked the interaction between Elisa and the sea creature, particularly when they were learning to communicate and bond. All of the hardboiled eggs were weird to me... but probably just because I can't stand them.

Giles was Elisa's best friend and neighbor, an aged and lonely artist who we saw through some sad situations in the story. Being a homosexual septagenerian (or thereabouts) had to be extremely tough in the 1960s, and Giles despair and desperation fairly jumped off the page at me.

Deus Brânquia is the sea god/creature ripped from his home in the Amazon and stuck in a tank at Occam, where he is tortured, experimented on, and finds a ray of hope in Elisa. Deus Brânquia was not often the narrator, but I liked it when he was. His wonder at the world was captivating, and I liked his responses to his environment.

I guessed how the story would end fairly early on, but I don't think that really detracted from the story. The narrator, Jenna Lamia, did a fantastic job with the performance. Her character affectations were distinct and engaging, and she held my attention well. The story wasn't the easiest to follow in audio at first... but once I got used to the artsy nature and stopped trying to understand every single word and situation, I found that I was able to relax and just enjoy it.

I voluntary read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this audiobook that I received from the publisher, MacMillan Audio.

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Movie Review

This is not the type of movie that I would normally watch, but after reading the book, I was very curious about how Deus Brânquia would be portrayed on screen. 

I think they did a good job on the casting. Sally Hawkins was a good Elisa, and Octavia Spencer was a great Zelda. As Zelda was one of my favorite characters, I was glad that Spencer was able to bring her to life in a way true to the book. 

Strickland didn't have as big an impact in the movie. None of his trek through the South American jungles was on screen, so you didn't really get an idea of how batshit crazy he became. His obsession with Elisa didn't come across as strongly as it was in the book either.

Much of the story focused on the relationship between Elisa and Giles, and between Elisa and Deus Brânquia (though in the movie he was just referred to as a thing or fish man). The depiction of Deus Brânquia in the movie was... interesting. It was definitely a throwback to the Creature from the Black Lagoon. He was much more... fishy... than I thought he would be. I guess I thought him more humanoid or merman-like in my head. And yes, the fish sex made it into the movie. The nudity surprised me a bit actually, I wasn't expecting for Elisa or Laney (Strickland) to show any skin.

I liked the depiction of Occam. It really drove home the aerospace research aspect of the story, as that was something that I was able to forget while reading the book.

The movie did stray from the original story slightly, but not enough to bother me. However, I am really glad that I read the book first. I think that I would have been confused by the movie if I didn't know the backstory to what was happening, and some of the other events that happened off screen.

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