Sunday, 4 September 2011

'The Lovely Bones' by Alice Sebold (2002)

Synopsis: Susie Salmon is a teenage girl who is raped and murdered by her neighbour in the 1970s. She then watches her family and friends from her personal Heaven as they struggle to move on with their lives. Her father becomes obsessed with finding her murderer, her mother falls apart, and her siblings have to get used to life without her. 

The only reason why I read The Lovely Bones was because I'd planned to see Peter Jackson's film adaptation. I will usually try to read books before I look into their adaptations. However this book really disappointed me and I probably won't bother watching the film now. I will admit that the book has a fascinating premise and a genuinely powerful opening chapter but apart from that I couldn't stand this book. I still can't believe that it won as much critical acclaim as it did! The Lovely Bones is nowhere near as moving and poignant as it should be. It's sickly-sweet and downright boring! It isn't even very well-written and the characters are very hit-and-miss. Now I can't say that I cared all that much about the characters on Earth but they felt believable at least - whereas the characters in Heaven were very underdeveloped and were clearly existing just to serve the plot. Holly, Franny and even Susie herself are all very unmemorable characters.

What frustrated me most about the book though was definitely Chapter 22 and the possession scene that takes place in it. Up until this point I hadn't been enjoying the book but this chapter made me really angry! Bringing Susie back to Earth just so she can lose her virginity to her high-school sweetheart is completely ridiculous and unpleasant! So let me get this straight: if you die a virgin God is willing to let you go back to Earth for a few hours, take over someone else's body, and shag someone?! This was a HORRIBLE decision on Sebold's part! Why couldn't Susie's brief time on Earth have been spent trying to comfort her family?! Why couldn't Susie try and do something about the fact that Mr Harvey, her killer, is still out there and has been stalking her sister?! Surely she doesn't want him to rape and kill any more children?! And what about Ruth?! Even though she seemed to be OK with what had happened to her afterwards, her body was still used for sex without her permission! Surely I can't be the only one who finds that seriously creepy, disturbing and immoral?! And what about the consequences?! What if Ruth had got pregnant or picked up an STD?! The Lovely Bones does not live up to its rave reviews at all and is one of the most overrated books I've ever read.

Rating: 1/5

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