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River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
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River of Teeth (2017)

by Sarah Gailey

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: River of Teeth (1)

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2872856,539 (3.58)24

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» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
River of Teeth definitely contains an interesting world. And it features a decently involved plot - for a novella. As is frequently the case when I read an novella I enjoy, though, I was definitely left wanting more - more from the characters, more information on the glimpsed side stories. Since this is the first in a series, hopefully more character-driven loose ends will be tied up as the series goes... but I could wish it'd been a full novel instead.

Some day, I will get used to the rhythm of novellas.

LGBT interest shelf tag for a nonbinary character. They are also the reason I tipped from a high 3 star review to a low 4 star. Actually, I rounded up both because I liked Hero and to counter the reviewer who docked the book because they found using a plural pronoun for a singular person confusing (see what I did there?). Yes, I did have to back up a sentence once or twice when I realized the "they" of the subject was Hero and not a group of people in the scene. However, I've definitely had to back up sentences due to too many "he's" in a row as well. And that's enough of a known problem that it's used as a plot point in a Jasper Fforde book. So. ( )
  akaGingerK | Sep 30, 2018 |
I really, really, really wanted to like this.

And I really, really, really did not.

Okay. I did like the diversity of the cast. I liked that there were more than one woman, a nonbinary love interest, a queer MC. That was good. Especially the normalization of the nonbinary character's gender and pronouns. No big deal. No big reveal. It was good. I liked that.

I didn't like anything else.

First of all: structurally the story is not good. I recently read another novella of about the same length yet it felt so much more COMPLETE than this book, so much realer, more substantial, because the author spent time building up her characters so you cared about them. This book? The characters are barely given a few pages of build-up and the relationships between them are like, neither show or tell. You don't have enough time or reasons to care about them. When things happen to them you barely blink because you don't know them well enough to be emotionally invested. Twist pack zero punch because everything just happens, without a moment to understand why or how.

Second: this is an alternate history of the US in the 19th century, set in the American South with a goddamn TIMELINE in the backmatter and slavery is not mentioned ONCE. Was there a Civil War? Is slavery legal? Who knows??? While a character is portrayed as being black, there's literally not a single mention of slavery. In the timeline it mentions Ulysses Grant being president at some point so maybe there was a Civil War? Maybe slavery was ended? Maybe???? Like I'm not expecting a detailed history in this book about hippos but if you're going to set something in any version of the 19th century American South without mentioning slavery at all than you're doing something wrong. I'm sorry. Slavery built the South and the neat idea of introducing hippos doesn't change that.

I really wish I could have liked this more but I gotta say, it failed on a whole lot of levels for me :/ ( )
1 vote ElleGato | Sep 27, 2018 |
I loved this book to an extent that makes it almost impossible for me to review it. It's weird, it's out there, it has hippos. And a couple of its characters wormed their way into my heart and still make me grin when I think of them, because my world is a little brighter now that I know that they exist.

On the face of it, this isn't my thing. I'm not usually a western type of person, at least partially because the typical treatment of female characters that I'd come to expect from the westerns that I watched with my dad when I was growing up. However, this book is weirder than your typical western. The plot feels western-ish, but with a couple of important changes: the aforementioned hippos, and all sorts of interesting, good, gender representation. Not only do we have a badass woman in the both pregnant and deadly Adelia; we also get Hero, a sweet-as-can-be african-american nonbinary person (who makes me swoon every time I think of their competence and shy, slow, sweet romance with Winslow Houndstooth), and Archie, an overweight, french, female thief who also occasionally likes to dress as a dapper man because her gender is fluid. And not only do we get all of these amazing characters; no one is thrown off their sexuality, no one asks them intrusive questions. They just are, and are allowed to be themselves without comment. The only time when we get any sort of comments of someone's sexuality is when Archie reveals that she occasionally dresses like a man, and the comments are entirely positive, because Archie being able to pass as male enables them to continue with a vital part of their plan. It's not often that we get characters like this who are just allowed to be, and I, for one, can only say that my response to this book was as simple and emphatic as a triumphant "Yes, that thing."

Plus, there's all the stuff with the hippos and the Mississippi being dammed to create thousands of miles of swamp for the hippos to live in, which is amazing and strange and exactly the sort of weird, out-there worldbuilding that I love.

I highly recommend this book, to everyone.

This review first appeared on my blog. ( )
  VLarkinAnderson | Sep 24, 2018 |
2018 Hugo Awards Best Novella Nominee

It was fun and light and I enjoyed it for that. Also for the hippos. If that's what you're looking for, this is your novella. But if you're looking for substance don't look here. As others have said, there's a lot of telling me characters have chemistry of any kind with each other but not a lot of showing, possibly because this story was too big to be a novella. (Yes, I would have read an entire novel about hippo cowboys, if it was done well.) ( )
  tldegray | Sep 21, 2018 |
So I read this because of this: http://www.torforgeblog.com/2017/06/01/celebrate-pride-month-with-tor-com/

And it's... okay I guess? I mean it's a Western but with hippos instead of horses/cattle and with a lot of queerness, so you know, seems awesome? But in actual practice I just felt a little "meh" about it, didn't really feel a connection to the characters and thought the plot was a bit thin. ( )
  wirehead | Sep 3, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gailey, Sarahprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anderson, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Winslow Remington Houndstooth was not a hero.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0765395231, Paperback)

Sarah Gailey's wildfire debut River of Teeth is a rollicking alternate history adventure that Charlie Jane Anders calls "preposterously fun."

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 16 Feb 2017 21:57:56 -0500)

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true. Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two. This was a terrible plan. Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.… (more)

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