Reading Review-The Lovely Bones

Posted: May 9, 2011 in Book Review
Tags: , , ,

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is a novel that presents the reader with a fascinating premise: the young protagonist, Susie Salmon, has been raped and murdered.  She tells the reader her story from heaven, as she watches events unfold in the world she still longs to be a part of. 

She observes intently as her parents’ marriage is shattered by the tragedy of her death.  Her mother, retreating to a solitary world with locked and confused emotions; her father, on the relentless pursuit to find her murderer.  Truly, the dynamic of relationships were evidently affected and altered by Susie’s death. 

The reader will be particularly interested in the chilling parts that detail Susie’s killer, Mr. Harvey (that isn’t a spoiler since we know this from the beginning of the book).  While Harvey is certainly creepy, Sebold paints him with too many clichés (loner, socially awkward, strange hobbies) that regrettably limit some potentially interesting character development. 

The book started off with a lot of promise.  Tugging at the heart-strings and evoking a wide range of emotions; there were moments of suspense, comedy, sadness and even joy.  I particularly loved the author’s unique perspective on heaven and thoroughly enjoyed these descriptive episodes throughout the book. 

However, despite a great start, the book started to loosen its grip on me midway through.  Apathy –one emotion that should not be felt with this type of story– made its presence known.  I started to feel as empty as the mother in the story.  I mentioned cliché earlier when describing Mr. Harvey…it turns out most of the characters are showered in cliché after cliché.  Susie’s dialogue was mostly unbelievable and the writing overall, was poorly executed; strange sentences attempting to convey poetry, filled with metaphors that make absolutely no sense.  I was particularly put off by a scene near the end of the story, that has Susie “live” out a fantasy — it felt like the book suffered from an identity crisis at that moment and I was reading something out of a sci-fi novel. 

I am giving it a favourable rating of 3 stars because despite its many flaws, Sebold did a fantastic job of displaying raw human emotions in the face of tragedy.  I would have given it a higher rating if she had capitalized on that and ventured into a more profound territory (with the characters) and stronger writing. 

3 Out Of 5

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