I had a hard time deciding what to rate this book. It seems as though I am the odd one out, as most people have given the book exceptionally high praiI had a hard time deciding what to rate this book. It seems as though I am the odd one out, as most people have given the book exceptionally high praise. While that is not necessarily unusual (I often don't seem to like books that others love), I am a little surprised by it this time. I just do not seem to have read the same book as other people, even though, well, I did.
'The Storyteller' is basically a moral and emotional conundrum that is unveiled through multiple different voices and story lines. The main plot line is that young woman befriends a much beloved old man, who reveals to her that he was a Nazi, and asks her to help him kill himself. The premise itself was brilliant, and what drew me to the book. It was a great idea that just didn't seem to quite live up to its potential. At times it was compelling and others it just fell flat.
I don't mind books written in the first person, nor do I mind books that flip from one character's viewpoint to another, but this book did both, and it just did not work. Even though each switch from one character to the next was clearly marked in the book, none of the characters seemed to have their own distinct personality. They all blurred together. The character traits they were given were contrived and trite, and I found them to just be hollow interpretations of potentially profound characters. The characters were also all incredibly predictable, and so was a lot of the plot. I don't want to have to add a spoiler alert, so I will just say that I saw every plot twist coming a mile away, and that the only even remotely surprising part came at very end of the book, and even then, it wasn't really that surprising.
There was a bit of repetition as well with the fairytale woven in, and I think it would have been better if the fairytale had been told strictly through the story (as it was at points), rather than written in the book on its own, with sections retold again through the story. I also think that Minka's story section was too large, and it should have been parcelled out a little more throughout the book, instead of the back/forth between the other characters for quite a while, and then suddenly this huge narrative from her perspective.
I don't know why others seem to be in awe of the book, while I just wasn't that impressed - maybe I'm just a bit jaded. Perhaps it's because I have already read quite a few books that have dealt with the same subject matter, both fiction and memoir, and so I'm a little bit less emotionally affected by the subject in and of itself. That is not to say that I do not find what happened in real life to be a tragedy or that it doesn't disgust me, but that reading a fictional portrayal of it doesn't have the same impact it might if I had not already read so many accounts of what happened. Perhaps if this was the first time I'd read a book dealing with the Holocaust, I would have been more 'wowed' by it, and less critical of other aspects of the book.
I know Jodi Picoult is quite popular, but none of her books ever seemed to really call out to me before, so this it the first time I have read anything written by her, and I don't know if this is on par with the way her other work is written. Overall, the book was good, but I think it had the potential to be great, so it was disappointing. The plot was such a great idea, and the writing itself was decent, but the execution of the plot and lack of well-developed and compelling characters made the book fall quite flat. That being said, I would give Jodi Picoult another chance with a different book in the future. ...more