Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Books in 2008, #6

#6. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

I've noticed something about Picoult's novels, something that I've absolutely grown to hate. The twist endings. Hate, hate, hate them. This is the third book of hers that I've read, and so far she seems to hang every outcome on something that is both jarring and completely out there that it nearly ruins the book for me. Note: I said nearly, not that it does.

Some spoilers right now. In The Tenth Circle, the twist was Trixie's mother had committed the grueling murder of Jason. In Salem Falls, the novel ends on a shocker with a father making out with his daughter. Here, we're spoonfed a story so contumaciously forceful and unbelievable involving Josie, a second gun, and the boy she loved. I know it is meant to surprise, to shock shock shock, but what it really seems to do is undermine everything Picoult built from page one.

Still, I love her characters, the way they think and react and do ordinary things that are heavy on their consciouses. Strangely, Nineteen Minutes features two characters from the only other books of hers that I've read. It was kind of nice to see them again. Much like in Salem Falls, a lot of personalities don't begin to truly shine until the courtroom scenes begin.

But the book is about a school shooting, and it is tough material to absorb completely. There is no happy ending. There is no happy beginning. There is no true finale where everyone gets why what happened and move on with their lives. The action that troubled Peter takes is horrific, but Picoult manages to dance on the edge of calling him a monster versus calling everyone else monsters. No surprise, the book reminded me very much of high school. It made me think a lot about what I saw then, what I heard, what was done to me and how I reacted. There are extremes in this world, terrible ones, and Nineteen Minutes doesn't aim to answer them. Only console those that lived through them...


D said...

contumaciously? huh?

Don't bash my fav author! I admit this book her leading to the twist was too overt or perhaps I've just read 1 book too many of hers.

I agree about the monster argument. It's hard to hate Peter even in the aftermath.

Paul Abbamondi said...

It's a word! I promise!

And I wasn't bashing her. I mean, I really liked 4/5s of the book and her writing. I just suspect that if this is how she does each book, I'm not going to like her in the long run.