Cover Image: Like Animals

Like Animals

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"Dear Creature, 
You are violent and cruel, but the darkness inside you carries its own share of light, of life. My life. So, I need you. Don't be afraid. Let the light grow into the darkness. I promise I won't let it hurt you. It'll help you fly. I promise I'll never forget you. You belong inside me. You make me real, alive. But, I'm begging you, you have to let us keep staying alive. 
Philomena, half of you, your other half". 

Trigger warnings: Suicidal ideation, depression.

Like Animals is a harrowing tale of loss and self-destruction translated from French. The story follows Philomena, who channels her struggles and dark energy into creating a graphic novel, where she creates a monster who embodies all of her thoughts and feelings. She hands the monster control, taking away her own agency and not allowing herself to overcome past misfortune and hurt, leading the resulting hurt to develop into a cesspit of despair and loss.

The novel is extremely dark, but even in a pitch black room, we can find cracks of light creeping through a crack in the curtain. There a supportive friends and temporary characters, but most powerfully, eventually, Philomena's self learning how to let go of the past and take the monster by the hand.

Thank you Lemieux for producing a simultaneously gripping and soul-destroying novel. I hope to read the French version next.
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For just a hair over 200 pages, this debut novel by French-Canadian author Eve Lemieux (translated from the original French text to English by fellow French-Canadian Cayman Rock), this book packs in a whole lot of story, filled to the brim with emotions and a roller coaster’s worth of events in the life of Philomena, a totally disorganized and completely codependent young woman living in Montreal who doesn’t know who she is unless she’s attached to someone else. She has no sense of self unless it’s in relation to someone else. In this sense, she’s completely a social creature: humans were never meant to be alone. And Philomena? She just ceases to exist when alone. 

The narrative style is going to turn some people off, owing to both its stream of consciousness prose and non-linear timeline. It’s also a very heavy book: not in density, but emotionally and psychologically. For those who usually need trigger warnings or content warnings before reading a book, a warning from me: literary fiction doesn’t give you those. All I will tell you is that if you’re a reader who usually needs those before you can proceed in reading a book, then please proceed with caution. 

The best passages of writing in this book are when Lemeiux really gets down to the business of pointing out–without blatantly pointing out–how much we humans are just like animals. Just base mammals designed to eat, sleep, drink, eliminate certain things out of our bodies in a timely fashion or when things are toxic for us, fornicate, fight, procreate, and die. We all do it. Every day we are just animals covered in fabric moving around like we know what we’re doing, when most of the time we’re really just like Philomena: afraid and unable to be alone, needing to be around people, needing to be around our people, and most of the time not knowing what we’re doing with our lives. Sometimes we’re just waiting around to die. Sometimes that decision is just taken out of our hands by our bodies or by outside interference. 

There are a great many metaphors and similes involving animals other than humans in this book, just to drive the message home, but those passages didn’t impress me near as much as Lemieux’s excellent and sometimes disturbing pointed messages about how we need to remember we’re still animals and we still act like them, too. 

I did cry at the end. I didn’t think I would, but in that last 10% of the book it got all very heavy for me, and by the time the last page had been turned, I had tears coursing down my cheeks. Philomena would eventually find her way. It wasn’t a happily-ever-after, but animals don’t know the meaning of those words anyway.
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Philomena is spinning down and out of control. Set in Montreal, this story of a woman and her friends is chaotic and disturbing. It's also typical of a currently popular genre of a young woman adrift with mental health issues.  The stream of consciousness writing works for this but became, I must admit. annoying.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  I'm sure others will find something to like or admire in this short novel.
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Raw with painful with an interesting writing style that conveyed the chaos and turbulence within the character of Philly, this novel does a great job of putting the reading smack dab within her often self-destructive choices and her life experience. It reminded me of the show Euphoria in some ways as it is unvarnished and overt. I wanted more as I was reading this - more  understanding - more depth - but I think the author purposefully keeps us on this wild ride to feel like Philly. Thanks to Dundurn Press / Rare Machines for the advanced copy. I’m grateful.
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"Too much sex in the city: a young woman goes into a self-destructive spiral after becoming obsessed with a downtown Montreal hipster.

Reality, that speedy bitch, is catching up to me.

In downtown Montreal, everyone is in a band or making a movie. Philomena Flynn and her best friend, Tania, are living fast and hard. There is sex when and where they want it, as well as drugs of all kinds. Not enough work, but lots of parties. Cute boys or nice boys, but rarely both at once. Philomena has no idea how to protect herself from her roaring feelings and goes into a spiral of self-destruction when her heart is broken. Too bad for Tania. Too bad for Philomena's dad. Too bad for boys who are too nice to her, and too bad, above all, for Philomena.

Like Animals is a glimpse into the raucous, sex-filled lives — infused with self-doubt and euphoria — of young, creative people who are far more sensitive than their cool facades will admit." (PR blurb)

I wasn't familiar with the author who is apparently a French Canadian actress and comedienne and I can't but feel this attempt to add Author to her CV was a misguided one. This book tries so desperately to be hip and trendy and appeal to millenial literary fiction readers that you can feel the author struggling to make the protagonist cool and relatable and not succeeding. There is no depth or understanding of the main character and their motives to the extent that as a reader you really don't care what happens to her in the end which also comes out of the blue. It's just a lot of sex and no meaning.
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This coming-of-age chronicles a lost, often depressed, and self sabotaging woman. This premise has found itself popular in recent years and I find most of them too surface level, they are writing women who have a brush with depression, perhaps ruin a friendship then they are face reality and are back on the horse of normalcy. Like Animals goes deeper and darker. The main character, Philly, has an underlying addiction to pain and bad ideas likely stemming from her parents divorce in her childhood. She is a mess throughout the novel, erratic, trying to destroy anything that could give her an ounce of happiness and meaning. This culminates into delusional obsessions with men and disregard for responsibilities. Revealing the true consequences and reactions to depression and psychosis in a young woman. I applaud the writer, Eve Lemieux, for getting the overall tone and themes more accurate than most others of this premise. I did find the pacing a bit too quick, unrealistically jumping from a scenario without inferring a why from the main character. I am the first to love a short book, it is really a challenge to condense a story but it also highlights faults that can often hide when in a longer novel. 

Overall this goes a bit deeper than your usual depressed woman coming-of-age but lacks the polish of a seasoned writer, possibly plot came before character in the writing process. I would give this a 3.5 stars if I could.
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Primal, unfiltered and amusing like animals
Never a dull moment when you can have a good book like this by your bedside overmanipulated and unerving read ing this is a long drawn out affair that creates squirmful encumbrance of an undiluted awareness
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Millenial Pink is so trash. Canada’s aight. Men and women are equally sleazy. I liked this book, but I kept forgetting to finish it.
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Like Animals by Eve Lemieux
Translated by Cayman Rock
Like Animals is the story of Philly a twenty-something woman who goes on a self-destructive spiral. Lemieux's stream-of-consciousness writing style, and the smooth translation made for an almost intimate read. We are invited within the deep recess of Philly's psyche as we witness the magma of self-harm and self-hatred that slowly burn through her. Philly is a bomb about to explode, and each page brings us closer to the  great disaster as Lemieux foreshadows at the beginning of the book, "I can feel myself sleepwalking toward a minefield."
Philly is not a character you will like. You might try to understand her and feel for her, but she is an anti-hero through and through. She is loud, obnoxious, vulgar, and out there. She reminded me a bit of Sarah Forestier's character in the movie Hell with a sprinkle of Cécile from Françoise Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse. I also think that many would find a lot of similarities between Euphoria and Like Animals, albeit the characters here are a bit older. 
I might have loved this book for all the wrong reasons, and despite the narrative being sometimes a bit chaotic, it is a book so real and unique that I cannot help but recommend it. That said Like Animals comes with a slew of trigger warnings that I urge you to check out before picking it up.
"I walk up the bank with heavy feet while kicking every rock and piece of driftwood I come across. I’m the lead martyr in the cautionary tale of my own invention."
"I can’t even recognize myself in the mirror. I’ve brainwashed myself into a romantic coma. We used to be crazy in love, too. Alive. This wasn’t the plan, babe. No way. We were supposed to shine like motherfucking diamonds while the rest of the world watched, not keep up this hypocritical act, separated by the crush of normality. No fucking way. What happened to my fire, my fury, my spark? My life is bullshit. But so is yours, you fucking asshole."
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Well-written, compelling, unputdownable; Lemieux's prose is one of the strong aspects of the novel along with the chaotic structure of "Like Animals" which further accentuated its powerful themes and the struggle its characters face.
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Stylised rawness and chaos - I think this words best describe "Like Animals" by Eve Lemieux. It seems that in the world the author created, nothing is as much taboo, as genuine closeness. It is easy to find and have sex, obtain and use drugs, overindulge in alcohol, but so hard to recognise suffering and address it.

The main character, Philly, oscillates between being an anti-heroine and someone so deeply wounded that the reader cannot help but feel for her. She's a parentified child, but also an emotionally immature adult, who doesn't seem to be able to craft healthy relationships with others.

I think Lemieux found a great way to showcase uncertainty of the fast-paced world and inner struggles of twenty-somethings via very fragmentised story, served from the first-person perspective, that leaves a lot for the imagination of the reader to fill the gaps. However, this book won't be for everyone, as it includes potentially triggering topics such as suicide, terminal illness and substance abuse.
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Simply gorgeous.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me access an advance copy of this book in exchange for my feedback.
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Eve Lemieux’s book Like Animals, billed as a hipster sex romp adventure actually touches on way heavier topics. Reminiscent of Virginie Despentes writing and Atwood’s Surfacing, Like Animals touches on themes of sex, suicide, depression, self-hatred, death, obsession, etc.

The main character Philomena, an artist, has a best friend and social network, but she keeps falling way too hard for men to the point of obsession and can’t explain her own behaviour. We get a background of her upbringing, her parents and how she came to be where she’s at, but Philomena goes through some heavy self-harm before being able to get a grip on why she acts the way she does. The drinking, promiscuity, seeking dangerous liaisons could be seen as a good time, but this book shows that there is meaning behind our actions.

This book is effective in the way it’s written, the characters and plot are strong and I found myself incredibly moved by Philomena’s self-destructiveness and journey to self-discovery. We feel her despair and her pain and in today’s world can understand where she’s coming from. I recommend.
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We get to look through the eyes of Philomena and really get insight into her thoughts and feelings as she goes through her struggles, one of which is a major heartbreak. This story is raw, exhilarating, fast-paced, and sexy. 

The way Eve Lemieux writes is unique. It is very much a stream of consciousness writing, almost poetic in a sense. It reminded me of the Crank series by Ellen Hopkins, mixed with aspects of the HBO show Euphoria. It is a quick read, and it kept me wanting to read more and more. I enjoyed watching Philomena experience life through its ups and downs. She frustrated me at times, but I can’t help but root for her.

The style of writing is not my favorite and at times can be a little confusing. I also wish there was a little more depth to the plot. But overall, I did enjoy reading this. 

This book contains explicit and potentially triggering topics: strong sexual themes, drugs & addiction, suicide & death, illness, domestic violence.

I give Like Animals by Eve Lemieux (available May 10th 2022) a 3/5 overall and a 1.5/5 on a spice scale. 

Thank you Dundurn Press and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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The first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover.! I found it to be an easy read that definitely has very powerful themes with very relatable characters. Some of the lines in the book are poetic and worth highlighting. Philly is struggling in her world, that is for sure. She also needs some therapy. The only fault I found was I wish we could have dove deeper into her relationship with the "hipster".... instead we just read about lots of sex. With this, I found her struggles to be not as 'significant' for me. The book is also chaotic at times, jumping timelines so we don't really find out what happened inbetween. Although, I think this something that the author was going for, and it definitely keeps you hooked.
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As soon as I saw the nod to Sex and the City i knew that I would find this a quick and easy read, which it was but it was also a lot more than that. It is written really well and i found the characters not only well developed but also raw and intensely real. I really enjoyed it
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This book was easy to read, almost poetic at times. However, the deeper meaning and the problems our main character is trying to overcome is powerful. 

Philomena is a hard character to love but she is relatable. Her story brings the questions of self-doubt, where your future is going, what your past was and could have been to the forefront. I think this book stresses we can’t rely on anyone else for true happiness, only ourselves.

The book cover could be a little more powerful, but the chaotic energy of the art mirrors the energy of the characters (in a good way, of course).

TW: suicide, cancer, addiction.
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