TITLE: The Lovely Bones
AUTHOR: Alice Sebold
PUBLISHER: Little, Brown & Company
GENRE: Mystery, Young Adult, Contemporary
RATING: 3.5/5 Stars
"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighbourhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer."
This is Susie Salmon. Watching from heaven, Susie sees her happy suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone.
What I Liked:
- Alice Sebold's writing completely hooked me from start to finish. A lot of people complain that it's a little too flowery and doesn't make all that much sense in some parts, but I would disagree. I've read books where the Author tries too hard with similes and metaphors and ends up rendering the book unrelateable, but this was not one of them. Sebold had just the right mix of poetic language and straight-talk. She presented the situation very clearly (in almost a little too much detail at times) and did so in such a way that I was totally mesmerised from start to finish.
- The plot was quite basic, which is another complaint that I often read, and yet I marvelled at Sebold's ability to take the theme of grief and turn it into such a masterful work. Once Susie's death has happened, not an awful lot else does and yet it felt like so much did! Susie was the narrator and the subject matter, but the story wasn't about her. It was about the people that she loved and cared for, and how they dealt with her death as individuals. I really identified with some of them, and really didn't with others which was always going to be the case in a book like this because every human is unique!
What I Disliked:
- The ending, for me, felt very strange and quite distant from the rest of the book. In my eyes, the movie did this a lot better. The possession/love-making scene was not really needed I think and felt very frustrating for me to read through. I suppose it was my own desire for some sort of justice rather than just letting go, but it seemed unnecessary and didn't really contribute anything to the plot. Secondly, George Harvey's final scene was very unsatisfying and far too vague for me. What I wanted was justice and detail as to exactly what happened to him, but instead I got a very short paragraph that left me disappointed.
- Susie's lack of judgement and feeling on her family as the book progressed was probably a purposeful decision, but it did start to get a little annoying. She was supposed to be young, and yet she spoke with all the grace and wisdom of a woman far beyond her years. She didn't seem all that bothered by her own death, nor by the way that her family was falling apart. Her Mother did some terrible things that most people would be horrified by and yet, not even a scrap of feeling from Susie Salmon, who remained calm throughout. This didn't ruin the book for me but it did grate on my nerves.
This was an enjoyable read that sucked me in from the first few pages and refused to let me go until it was done. The language could get over the top at times but I enjoyed Sebold's writing immensely overall. It has been voted into the Mystery genre by a huge portion of those who have read it, but be aware that this is no 'whodunnit'. From the get-go, we know exactly who the killer is and learn more (though still very little) on their motives as time goes on. I liked a lot of the characters, and especially identified with Lindsey, while finding myself hating others. All of them were very well-built however. The ending was a little iffy and I would have liked some more feeling from the ghostly narrator, but all in all a good read!