Review - The One and Only Ivan - Katherine Applegate

The One and Only IvanTitle: The One and Only Ivan
Author: Katherine Applegate
Series: N/A
Publication: January 17th 2012, HarperCollins
Pages: 256 pages, Paperback
Genre: Middle-Grade
Source: Thank you to Exclusive Books for sending me this in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES!
Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.
Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.
Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.
Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.
When I opened my review package and I was greeted by the sight of this cover I had been admiring on my Goodreads wishlist shelf for two years, I was beyond ecstatic. This book exceeded my expectations. The One and Only Ivan was a beautiful, honest, heart-breaking novel that will leave a gorilla-shaped imprint on your heart.

The One and Only Ivan is based on a true story of a silverback gorilla that was taken from his home in Africa when his parents were ruthlessly poached and then was shipped, with his sister, to a buyer in America. Not being able to cope with the fear and distress, Ivan's sister passed away on the journey, leaving Ivan feeling abandoned, scared and alone. In the story, the only things that make Ivan's day better are Stella, Julia and Bob, the friends he has made at the mall where they are being held. When a baby elephant named Ruby arrives, Ivan watches painfully as he sees her former lively spirit slowly being extinguished. Ivan makes a silent promise to himself, and a friend of his, that he will protect Ruby and get her out of this cramped cage. He wants to give her a chance of freedom, something he can't remember ever having.

This book tugged on my heart strings. It made me think. It had me smiling and it had me crying, I don't think I can quite express how much I loved this book!

I fell in love with the kind, gentle Ivan and his wonderful friends. I was spellbound by Katherine's riveting, enchanting poetic writing style. I fell head-over-heels in love with the story. Such vivid imagery was seen, such heartfelt words read, such precious moments that made me adore the gorilla species, hope was given and my faith in humanity was restored. A magical story that is inspiring and haunting, one that will hook you from the beginning and will linger with you long after the last page has been read.

The characters were so real and the writing so beautiful, I was felt like I was being transported right next to Ivan. Ivan is so gentle and so kind and the hardships he has had to endure broke my heart. I love how Katherine made this book so original by writing the book from a gorilla's perspective. We see the way Ivan's brain works and being able to see how he views things made this such a wonderful, original reading experience. Ivan's voice is strong and resonates through the story. The loneliness, isolation and unhappiness is plaintive in the way this is written. The reader connects with Ivan and forms a thorough understanding of him. I so badly wanted to hug him and tell him that everything is going to be fine. A main character you will form a strong bond with!

I adored the secondary characters, too. They were amazing and so real. There was Stella, the wise, kindle old elephant who I loved. Elephants are one of my favourite animals and seeing such a gentle, wonderful creature in pain and being mistreated evoked such anger and sadness within me. I adored Bob, Ruby and Julia! Bob is the street dog that sneaks into Ivan's cage and sleeps there at night. Ruby is the sweet, inquisitve baby elephant that sits outside Ivan's cage and draws pictures. Seeing Ivan's amazing relationship ship with each of these charactars was remarkable. I thought it was stunning and I appreciate and admire the great care and thought that was put in creating such beautiful characters and the affectionate relationship they shared.

This story is based on a real-life gorilla called Ivan, who went through the same horrifying events that Ivan in the book did. This book shows how despicable humans can be and how they are capable of being so cruel towards innocent animals, but how those animals love them back and trust them anyway. It really saddened me to read about how awful people can be and how trusting these animals are, they just don't deserve it. 

Ivan's voice is so honest and unflinching, he shares everything with us. I think that animals in real life see things the same way, yet people treat them with disregard and it really maddens me that people can't see how wonderful these creatures are. I hope everyone gets a chance to read this book, so they can understand how caring, gentle, clever, loving and intuitive animals are.

My review didn't do this book justice. Katherine Applegate has weaved together a haunting, beautiful story, filled with such vibrant, lovable characters that have set themselves a firm place in my heart. The writing is poetic and entrancing, the sentences seemingly simple but formed so that they hold such meaning. A novel filled with friendship, love, fierce loyalty and showing us that even on the darkest days, hope can be found. The One and Only Ivan broke my heart, tugged on my heart strings, had me laughing, smiling and crying but slowly fastened my heart back together. I lived in the world, relished in the words and fell in love with characters. A haunting, uplifting story that I will cherish forever.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!
Because I loved this book SO MUCH and just had such an amazing time reading it, I am giving one lucky reader a chance to win a copy! This is a book I feel everyone should read as it was truly spectacular!

1. You must be 13+ and if not, you must have your parent/guardian's consent.
2. This is SOUTH AFRICA ONLY. Sorry my international followers, I will have an INT one when I hit 500! :)
3. You must be able to provide a legit street/P.O. box address, please! 
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