Summary and book reviews of The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Animators

A Novel

by Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker X
The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2017, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2017, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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About this Book

Book Summary

A funny, heartbreaking novel of friendship, art, and trauma, The Animators is about the secrets we keep and the burdens we shed on the road to adulthood.

She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever.

In the male-dominated field of animation, Mel Vaught and Sharon Kisses are a dynamic duo, the friction of their differences driving them: Sharon, quietly ambitious but self-doubting; Mel, brash and unapologetic, always the life of a party. Best friends and artistic partners since the first week of college, where they bonded over their working-class roots and obvious talent, they spent their twenties ensconced in a gritty Brooklyn studio. Working, drinking, laughing. Drawing:  Mel, to understand her tumultuous pass, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.

Now, after a decade of striving, the two are finally celebrating the release of their first full-length feature, which transforms Mel's difficult childhood into a provocative and visually daring work of art. The toast of the indie film scene, they stand at the cusp of making it big. But with their success come doubt and destruction, cracks in their relationship threatening the delicate balance of their partnership. Sharon begins to feel expendable, suspecting that the ever-more raucous Mel is the real artist. When the only other partner Sharon has ever truly known—her troubled, charismatic childhood best friend, Teddy—reappears, long-buried resentments rise to the surface, hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.

Excerpt
THE ANIMATORS

We're hiding In the Powder room at the St. Regis hotel. This is what working in what amounts to a rat's nest for the past decade has done to us, I think, looking at our reflections in the mirror. Ten years in a piece-of-crap studio in the armpit of Bushwick with full view- and- sound of the JMZ train, giving ourselves humpbacks craning over our drafting tables, Camels drooping from our mouths, passing expired packages of Peeps back and forth in the dark. The work has made me forget how to act like a person. We're not fit to go out and socialize with the fancy people, all Cheetos- stained hands and dilated pupils. "Here." Mel hands me her pipe, the one shaped like a squirrel she picked up from a troubled- looking Village store that sold cheap dildos and off- brand candy. "Chug it," she demands. "Pull on that motherfucker like you meanit.

We, the recipients of the American Coalition of Cartoonists and Animation Professionals' Hollingsworth ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Very few novels can handle multiple themes with the seamless grace that moves beyond a plodding and studied dexterity. That The Animators does so with ease is even more commendable given that this brilliant book is a debut.   (Reviewed by Poornima Apte).

Full Review (671 words).

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Media Reviews

Elle
A compulsively readable portrait of women as incandescent artists and intimate collaborators.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. [An] outstanding debut ... Whitaker skillfully charts the creative process, its lulls and sudden rushes of perfect inspiration. And in the relationship between Mel and Sharon, she has created something wonderful and exceptional: a rich, deep, and emotionally true connection that will certainly steal the hearts of readers.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Unexpected and nuanced and pulsing with life ... Sweeping and intimate ... Empathetic but never sentimental; a book that creeps up on you and then swallows you whole.

Author Blurb Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, author of The Nest
The Animators is a wildly original novel that pulses with heart and truth. That this powerful exploration of friendship, desire, ambition and secrets manages to be ebullient, gripping, heart breaking and deeply deeply funny is a testament to Whitaker's formidable gifts. I was so sorry to reach the final page and Sharon and Mel will stay with me for a very long time.

Author Blurb Emma Donoghue, author of Room and The Wonder
An engrossing, exuberant ride through all the territories of love—familial, romantic, sexual, love of friends, and, perhaps above all, white-hot passion for the art you were born to make ... I wish I'd written The Animators.

Author Blurb Kate Christensen, PEN/Faulkner Award–winning author of The Great Man
The Animators is a heartbreakingly beautiful, sharply funny, arrestingly unforgettable novel about love and genius, the powerful obsessiveness of artistic creation, and the equally powerful undertow of the past. Kayla Rae Whitaker writes like her head is on fire.

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Beyond the Book

Storyboarding

Star Wars StoryboardIn The Animators, best friends Sharon and Mel spend hours hunched over their artwork that will form the basis of an animated movie. "I know a day of work has been really good when I have to look up from the board and recall who I am and what I'm doing," Sharon says. That "board" that she refers to is one of a series of images that together make up whatever project the duo happen to be working on.

Storyboarding is the first element in the production of a whole range of projects – from animated movies to television commercials and even software programs. It is a series of rough sketches that are presented in sequence to indicate storyline and forward movement. In animated movies such as Sharon and Mel's Nashville Combat, ...

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