2 1/2 stars. This was a book that I read aloud to Peter. Usually I don't think that affects my rating of a book, whether or not it's read aloud, but I really felt that in this book's case I would have given it a higher rating had I been reading it in my head to myself. I probably would've rated this book a full star more, but...
I thought this book had a very strong start. Both Peter & I really liked the beginning, pretty much up until the Tsimtsum came into the picture. Having to read the dialog out was difficult, it was unwieldy and clunky and implausible, a lot of it kind of made me cringe inside.
And all the violent parts... reading them out loud was a completely different experience for me than reading them in my head. I read violent things in my head without being particularly disturbed all the time, but having the words come out of my mouth to describe it makes it much more immediate. Peter had the same experience--he was reading it out loud to me at one point and although the violence didn't seem so bad for me hearing it, he had to stop and let it be known that he thought it was gratuitous and pointless before he kept reading. I think this factor, along with the dialog, combined to create a lowered rating.
Peter really liked the ocean/fishing scenes, I liked the zoo and animal psychology aspects. I also really like reading the reviews about it. They are pretty stimulating and I find myself agreeing just as much with many 5 stars reviewers as I do with the 1 & 2 star reviewers.
PS When Thecat is in a particularly bad mood we now call her "Richard Parker" or "Thecat Parker." (We still call her Andy-Candy, a la Rosemary's Baby, when she is just laying there all sweet-like.)