Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Wasted Potential

The Lovely Bones

Alice Sebold

Review by Zorena

Three Stars


The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder -- a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family's need for peace and closure.

The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished.

My Review

I was gripped from the first page. This was different, compelling and heartbreaking. It was just a real tragedy that after the first two chapters that this story turned into a disjointed mess. I'm not exactly sure what went wrong but it seemed to lose all direction and cohesion after this point.

I was thinking we would see Susie working through the aftermath as she observes all those she left behind. Her parents and sister are at least real in their reactions. Some shut down, some look for answers and some almost trip off the crazy scale. Instead we get an almost monotone monologue from Susie that only becomes more emotional near the end. Then we have a possession scene gone bad. I won't bother describing it for two reasons. One is that it's pathetic and two is that it would be a spoiler.

There was so much potential in Sebold's writing at the start that I literally felt cheated by the rest of the book. The only saving grace being a Father that was written so well and so heartrendingly that it made finishing the book a little more satisfying. Let's not forget the Mother. A lot may not have liked her reaction but it was a true one. The father and the first chapter are the only reasons this is not a two star review.

It just seems that Seebold had trouble trying to write from a child's perspective and instead threw in a lot of omniscience and gimmickry.

What a shame.

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