Released March 23, 2015
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
This majestic debut “Grit Lit” (but, not Southern) thriller combines suspense, a heartfelt story of redemption, and the bond between humans and animals.
Bill Reed is living a quiet life caring for injured animals at a wildlife rescue center in rural Idaho when his criminal past comes back to haunt him.
Why I Read It
Shannon at River City Reading included The Animals on her list of Top Ten Books of 2015 (So Far) and Julianne at Outlandish Lit loved it as well. Plus, the whole “Grit Lit”-type literary thriller thing generally works for me.
Human/animal relationships, redemption, having a sense of purpose, moving on from the past, animals in captivity
What I Liked
- This book feels like “grit lit” (see Rory’s great discussion of this term), but it’s not Southern. What to call it?! The Animals had me scouring the Internet for a term for this!
- I expected to be immediately swept away by the suspense surrounding Bill’s criminal past. What did he do and how does it come back to haunt him? Instead, I was surprised to find myself swept away by Bill’s relationships with the animals in his rescue (including a blind grizzly bear and a three-legged wolf). They are his friends and family and saviors. Kiefer’s writing about the animals is beautiful and heartfelt and had me emotionally invested in their fates.
[…] there was judgment in those pale, sightless eyes without expression, the bear’s gaze only holding within them the same acceptance that Bill had always seen there, as if nothing would be asked of him ever, as if the only thing Bill could ever do wrong was not return.
- The Animals was a bit of a slow build for me, but not in a bad way. I was just reading along while Kiefer was busy creating the beauty and majesty of the animals before gradually realizing “wow, I’m really getting into this”. This adept pacing got me a bit more into the story with every page I read.
- The book touches on the moral dilemma of raising animals meant for the wild in captivity, even if they’re injured to the point where they likely wouldn’t survive long on their own. This got me thinking and provided a nice platform for one of Bill’s internal battles.
What I Didn’t Like
- The writing had a tendency to get a little mumbo-jumboy. For example, this part of the first paragraph wasn’t my favorite:
The world in its bubble and you holding fast to its slick interior as if to the blood-pumped safety of a womb. You and the animals.
- The ending dragged a bit for me. But, I don’t want to spoil things by saying anymore here!
A Defining Quote
His uncle taught him how to feed the grizzly and he remembered, still remembered, the feeling, perhaps for the first time in his life, that he was doing something important, that he was needed and wanted […]
Good for People Who Like…
Page turners, literary thrillers, suspense, dark stories, “Grit Lit”, animals
Other Books You May Like
Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich
Have you ever heard of a term for “Grit Lit” that’s not Southern? If not, do you have any great ideas?