River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What if America imported hippos, put them in the Mississippi River to eat the water lillies, and then farmed them for meat?
This is an actual historical thing that almost happened, and Sarah Gailey's debut novella takes that idea, tweaks the timeline and technology a bit, and gives the world the gift that is River of Teeth.
I don't even know where to begin on how much I love this book.
The human characters. Could they BE any more diverse and amazing? (Oh no, I've become Chandler from Friends.) From fat and fabulous French lady to older nonbinary black person to knife-wielding pregnant Latina badass... Not once did I forget who a character was, and that's saying something.
The hippos. Different breeds and such personality! Ruby has gold plated tusks, because of course she does.
The caper. Sorry, not a caper - an operation. Explosions and riverboat casinos and hippos who eat people! What more could you want?
This book does something that gives it a sense of excitement and danger. It kills off characters. The movie Serenity did this really effectively, too, and I'll avoid spoilers for both but this is the general idea:
"These characters all seem very important to the plot. Oh. Wow. So that person died. I liked them. WAIT. Now we're killing off THEM? Well now I'm convinced anyone can die and WAIT THAT'S MY FAVORITE CHARACTER DO NOT PUT THEM IN ANY SORT OF DANGER!!!!!"
So yes. An amazingly fun western with hippos that everyone needs in their life.
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