Early reactions are sharply divided. It’s the #1 LibraryReads pick for April but both Kirkus and Booklist were less than enthusiastic, with Kirkus calling it plain “silly” and complaining that the main characters came across as “spoiled brats.” Past history is also divided. The author has published one blockbuster, Water for Elephants, the basis for a successful movie (which may even become a Broadway musical), followed by the less successful Ape House.
We checked in with several collection development librarians to get their take. All of them expect At The Water’s Edge to hit best seller lists based on the author’s name recognition and to continue due to word of mouth. Several took a strong position early and others have gone back to order more copies.
Below are their major points (sorry, quotes had to be anonymous).
- “The World War II setting will definitely be a bigger attraction than that of Ape House (a research center dedicated to studying bonobo apes).”
- Set in Scotland, it includes fascinating details about the Loch Ness monster
Comparison to previous titles:
- Most said that Ape House had not done well at all in their libraries, but one librarian cautions, “Underperformance is relative. We might have considered Ape House a success if we didn’t have Water for Elephants as a comparison.”
- “Unlikeable characters have held back some titles from star writers for us before.”
- “Some people complain about the characters in GOTT, but that hasn’t killed word of mouth.”
- The main character shows emotional development and don’t forget, there’s a romance involved.
Reading Group Appeal:
- “Reading groups who will have a great time dissecting this book and parsing the characters.”
- The LJExpress review, posted after the less appreciative Kirkus and Booklist reviews, has it right. “Get past [some issues with believability], and you’ll find yourself skimming along entertainingly with Maddie as she grows up, asserts herself, and gets the right man.”
- “One of my very best ARC readers raved about it, and she’s never wrong.”
- The consumer press will have an effect, especially if Entertainment Weekly and/or People are enthusiastic. It will get media attention of course. The author is scheduled to appear on the upcoming NPR Weekend Edition Saturday and next week on the Diane Rehm Show.
- “My best guess (educated, of course ) is this book will circulate briskly for most of the summer into the fall and be a book club favorite. It’s success will be closer to Water for Elephants and much better than Ape House, which was a bust for us. It has a lot of hooks going for it: Scotland, World War II, romance, Loch Ness monster, a Downtown Abbey vibe (few seem to be bothered that Lord Grantham and family continue going to balls and teas in the midst of war).”
Place your bets in the comments section, below!