Beautiful Animals isn’t the type of book I typically read. This would be considered more of a “literary thriller,” where there is a suspense aspect to the plot line, but the majority of the book is location description and character driven. I prefer my books to be on-the-edge-of-my-seat and to-the-point. With that being said, this novel wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea, although I can appreciate it for being a lovely work of literature and certainly some peoples’ taste.
Set in Hydra, a small island off the coast of Greece, Beautiful Animals tells the story of a summer spent between two newfound friends and the trouble they find themselves encountering together. Naomi’s father, Jimmy, is a wealthy English businessman who purchased a home on the island long before it was fashionable or cool. Naomi has spent every summer living on Hydra, but, since the death of her mother, the summers are not nearly as enjoyable with her stepmother, Phaine. Naomi is rich and bored and sort of an odd duck. She’s in her mid 20’s,has been recently been fired from her job, and has no friends on the island. Until one morning after a swim, she meets Sam.
Sam is an American whose family is visiting Hydra for the first time. Sam is beautiful, but insecure, and immediately smitten by the more sophisticated Naomi. They quickly form a friendship over weed, booze, and their mutual distaste for their family, and find themselves spending every day with each other.
One afternoon, after a yacht trip to a remote part of the island, Naomi and Sam stumble upon a runaway from Syria, by way of Turkey, who has nothing to his name except the clothes on his back and a bar of soap. Faoud, they learn, was from a wealthy family in the middle east, but fled to Hydra to escape into Europe under asylum. Naomi and Sam have differing opinions as to what to do with their discovery, and the decision results in a disastrous tragedy neither could have imagined.
Beautiful Animals deeply investigates the psyche of two unstable young women in their quest to do the right thing. It also examines how far humans will go for greed, money, and freedom. This novel’s biggest strength is its setting. Osborne does a phenomenal job painting a picture of Hydra for the reader. I’ve always wanted to go to Greece, but now it is on my bucket list for sure. I found myself googling pictures of Hydra as I was reading, and understanding why someone would spend their entire summer in such a lovely place.
The biggest drawback was the disjointed character perspectives and slow plot. Osborne regularly switches back between Naomi, Sam, and Faoud, all within the same chapter and even the same paragraph. I found it somewhat hard to follow with the jumping back and forth. I appreciated the underlying story and character development of Beautiful Animals, but it didn’t get to the action quite quick enough for my liking, and never fully accelerated for me.
2.75 out of 5 stars.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own.