I finally got around to reading :The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, last week. It is a novel I had heard so much about and had planned to read for a long time. I'm not usually interested or drawn to books with overtly sad or violent themes but as I said already, I had heard so much about this book, I decided to give it a try anyways.
On the plus side, the author has a fairly engaging style of writing. The title alone is such an attention-grabber. I was looking forward to a good story as I settled in on the sofa for an extended reading session.
But what came to my mind almost immediately was the sheer implausibility of the plot.
A 14 year old girl Susie Salmon is walking home through a deserted cornfield after school. It is December, already dark outside. She is stopped along the way by the neighbourhood "weirdo" Mr. Harvey. He appears seemingly out of nowhere and begins talking to Susie.
Yes, she was startled by him being there. But does she hurry along, run away, scream, tell him to get lost. None of those. No, Susie Salmon is (quite easily) talked into following Mr. Harvey to his "little hiding place" in the cornfield that he wants to share with her.
When they get to the location of the underground space that Mr. Harvey has "cleverly" disguised with a wooden cover, Susie continues to stay with him, not at all concerned about her safety. No, she is curious and wants to see more!
Mr. Harvey opens the wooden cover to reveal the space in the ground below. Without any coaxing, Susie follows him down into the ground and to the obvious disastrous events that follow, leading to her death.
Right there, I was stopped on the page. COME ON Ms. Sebold!
A 14 year old girl, following a strange man, in a cornfield, in the dark, going down in an underground cave because she was curious! No way. Maybe if the main character had been 6-7 years old, in the daylight, with a so-called family friend calling the shots. Maybe this kind of plot would have rung true. But no, not for a teenage girl, especially in the circumstances of how this happened.
After her death, the story takes a different twist and we are transported to Susie's heaven, where she continues watching her family and friends from the other side. I couldn't be bothered reading any further after that. If I'm not engaged by a believable plot from the get-go, I can't waste my time on reading further.
As is the case with so many books that hit the best-seller lists, it seems that the hype about this book has kept up the ongoing reader interest, year after year.
I've never been swayed much by popular opinion when it comes to books, movies, websites, blogs... I enjoy or not. I'm happily not a "sheep" following the crowd LOL.
Some of the best books I've ever read have been by relatively unknown authors with the talent to write a great story but unfortunately not the media "engine" behind them to propel their work to the top of the page, when it comes to reviews, lists and popularity.
Here's a reader's comment on the Amazon product page for The Lovely Bones. I guess not everyone loved it. There are plenty more comments from readers, similar to this:
"This book is complete and utter drivel. It is poorly written and inconsistant. I don't understand how or why it is on the best-seller list. The author uses every overly dramatic movie-of-the-week cliche in this book. My theory as to why this book is so popular is that some marketing/advertising hot-shot remembered this piece of [junk] sitting on his or her shelf when the rash of missing girls occurred and decided to capitalize on these tragedies. A huge marketing campaign took place with this book when it first came out. There were even TV commercials for it. I find the whole timing of this book's popularity very disturbing."
I really was amazed how implausible this story was. And yes, I also agree with the comment above; it is disturbing to think people would be drawn to it (if that is the case) by the violence and sinister tone of the story.
If you've read it, I'd love to hear your opinion of this book.
Overall rating for this book: BAD. 0 out of 5.