Reviews

Bestiary, by K-Ming Chang

luckykosmos's review

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mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

Complicated thoughts on this one, because the prose is gorgeous, but sometimes it just doesn't hit. I read in reviews the amount of ~bodily fluid~, so I took a step back to see how often it added to the story even if it wasn't necessary. It felt 50/50, and the 50 it didn't add, it just took me out of things so everything felt disjointed. The themes were good, but I think it could have been pared down so the reader could focus on the story and the prose. I do want to read more, because I loved how strange and magical the core of the story was, but I hope that certain elements are reined in.

siobhanward's review

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challenging dark slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.0

 So I'm going to start off by mentioning that this book is full of detailed, graphic descriptions. If that's not your vibe, this book is worth taking a pass on.

That said, I really liked the idea of this book, but I struggled a lot with the stream of consciousness narrative. I really waver back and forth on this kind of narrative, but typically I find them challenging to read since there isn't necessarily a plot to follow. What I could follow, I enjoyed, but there were some parts that were almost jarringly out of place and I struggled with. I like the direction Chang was going with this book, but I found some of the execution to be lacking. 

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melancholylethe's review against another edition

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2.0

I finished this book. It was not to my taste. Everything was written very graphically in away that just kind of disgusted me. The stories interwoven throughout were interesting and the way it tied the generations but I hated every moment of description.

yoomisnowreading's review

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challenging dark emotional reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

sparky005's review against another edition

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challenging dark emotional slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

beholdtheanimals's review

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5.0

4.5 stars, and the only thing that keeps it from being a full 5 in my book is the very subjective reason that Bestiary is a LOT and no-holds-barred and I think maybe my brain is too scarred to be able to properly absorb the intensity? idk, long way of saying "it's me, not the book."

That said, you really gotta step into its weird river and let it lead you—do not resist the weirdness and bite of the language. It's audacious af on the sentence level, but not in a way that feels pretentious or show-offy. There's an organic quality to Bestiary's wildness—its magic is unabashed and often bodily, its spells and transformations riddled with teeth, blood, bones, piss— and it doesn't detract from the fact that there is a beautiful, poignant tale being told. I won't spoil the story at all, but it is both truly weird and moving, and it's hard to do both things simultaneously while also using a language built of wildnesses and myths and snapping, hungry jaws. I can't wait to read whatever K-Ming does next.

patroclusbro's review

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challenging dark emotional inspiring mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

I don't think that it is difficult to come across books with a great plot or intriguing characters. But it is rare to to find one that truly portrays a unique perception of the world. This is one of them.

Bestiary takes all the slimy, odd puzzle pieces of broken family and diaspora, of abuse and intergenerational trauma and puts them into the hands of a little girl who has grown a tail.

The magical realism of this book crawls out from behind every letter, turning the shy and simple plot into a many-headed being. The imagery is ugly, it is frightening, faecal, and filled to the rim with alluring beauty. I love a writing that is not afraid of the body and animalistic desire!

How terrifying is love, is family, is ancestry? How close are care and murder? And is there anything in this world which doesn't have a life on its own? 

margotcolville's review against another edition

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challenging emotional mysterious reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes

5.0

ernie_8's review

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dark mysterious slow-paced
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

1.0

The poetic ability of the author is commendable but the novel didn't stand out as much. 

ryc1025's review

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2.0

This book was just not for me. I am not great with stream of consciousness narration, so that immediately threw me off. And there was a lot of mention of bodily functions, which came off as a strangely perverse kind of gore, which I was also turned away from. I am sure that for someone able to look past this, and maybe I will come back to it in my reading journey, this book would be resounding and heart wrenching. As always, try out a sample to see if your opinion will be different!