Final Ruling: 4.99999/5 stars
I have literally been so fortunate to have read so many amazing books in the past few months. So, I’m sorry if you were looking for more snark, but I adored this book. Seriously, I don’t know how I will ever ever find another book that measures up to this one. Now, there was one bad thing that I just couldn’t get past (hence the rating). Other than that I loved this book so much I can’t get over it. I know I use ‘take my breath away’ a lot on here when it comes to good books, but in this case, it literally stole the air from my lungs, I was breathing hard and it took a good 10 minutes for my heartbeat to come back down to normal. It was that good.
(Your friendly neighborhood reminder that italics mean spoilers, so if you don’t want to see the spoilers, please don’t read the italics)
I am convinced, like legitimately convinced, that I will never ever read a book as good as this one was ever again (aside from the one unfortunate thing, but those are just details). As I said, the plot twist literally stole the air from my lungs, it was so so so so unexpected and spectacular. The characters were vivid, the plot was amazing, and the backdrop of the elephant sanctuary was absolutely and completely perfect.
(CAUTION: spoilers ahead)
Okay, so I’ll admit here and now that I have a soft spot for psychics, I really do. Even aside from that, I absolutely and completely adored Serenity. Like seriously. Her take on life is so unique and the fact that she didn’t believe in herself in the beginning but ended up going on this amazing journey to self-discovery that allows her to realize that she is talented and that she is worth something. Even though there were so many signs pointing up to this, I really didn’t see the plot twist that they were all dead coming. It totally blindsided me, hit me like a punch to the gut.
Now, being me, the real draw of this book was the fact that it was centered around a group of animal behaviorists. I am so amazingly interested in that field of study, and to finally read a book that centers around them just makes me so incredibly happy. You can say all the bad things you want about Jodi Picoult, but that gal sure does her research. I really did feel transported into the world of psychics and behaviorists, of elephants and mental illnesses. The people at that reserve really did care about their animals, really did see them as their own children, as actual living beings with thoughts and feelings (which, let’s be real, doesn’t happen in the scientific world). To see somebody finally giving credit to the hidden emotions of animals really warmed my heart, and made this book that much better for me. The bond between humans and animals is so amazing, especially if those animals happen to be abused and subsequently healed alongside such wonderful and kind-hearted humans.
(CAUTION: spoilers ahead)
Alice definitely has to be my favorite character in this story, she is compassionate and strong and quirky and curious. Honestly, I see a lot of myself in her. She is breathtaking. I can’t even describe it, you’ll just have to read the book to discover just how great Alice Metcalf is. Her love and affection for those elephants all throughout the book warms my very soul. She did what so many people in the scientific community are too afraid to: she recognized grief and struggling, and she actually did something to make life better for those sweet elephants. I love pretty much everything about her… except for the one thing that forced me to lower my rating.
Call me quirky, but I hate hate hate books that have cheating in them, it just makes me feel gross inside. It really isn’t okay. The book was so beautiful and wonderful and really could have done without all of the cheating, on both Alice and Gideon’s part. It made me sick to my stomach, there were so many things that would lead to pretty much the same outcome, it just seemed unnecessary to me.
Finally, there was that plot twist. That plot twist. I really did not see that coming, though looking back now, I can see that there were so so so many instances of foreshadowing it really was a miracle that I didn’t figure it out sooner, I usually do. I still am trying to wrap my head around the fact that both Virgil and Jenna were dead the whole freakin time. What even. After the initial shock, I found out that I really did like the implications of that, that the Gift is scattered throughout the world, that not everybody realizes it, and that more people are Gifted than anybody could ever actually know. I love it.
I would recommend this to anybody and everybody, because the plot is seriously mind-bending, and the thoughts provoked will seriously take your breath away. Happy reading!