I hated this book so much. I only kept reading it because I had to find out why Campbell, the lawyer, hadSpoiler Alert. This review contains spoilers.
I hated this book so much. I only kept reading it because I had to find out why Campbell, the lawyer, had a service dog, since he kept that such a secret.
I hated the clichés (Julia chose just that moment to crash through the door… Anna chose that precise moment to speak up… Rita chose this moment to gag on bad writing…).
I hated the overwrought melodrama. Everything was just so saturated with heavy-handed tear-jerking prose that the book was soggy and just about dripping. About halfway through the book, I started skimming it, looking for dialogue relevant to the plot. Brian’s metaphors about fire and Sara’s reminiscing about the kids’ childhoods and Campbell’s backflashes about Julia and Julia being pathetic in every possible way and Anna’s cluelessness just got so very dull. If I was ever to find out why Campbell had that dog, then I needed to get through the material faster. Putting the book down to groan out loud every few paragraphs was taking too long.
The characters were two-dimensional and irritating. They really were just like paper dolls, given name tags, dressed up in stereotypes and given lines to say (and melodramatic thoughts to spill out). It was like, This is the mom and she’s a big martyr who puts her children first all the time… she’s a GOOD mother, she just got blinded by trying to be too good, so she seems kind of bad now. But we’ll be on her side in the end because of her deep insight. Waggle mom paper doll and have her blah, blah, blah and then Over here is the Big Bad Lawyer doll… ooooh, he’s a ruthless go-getter with a hazy past, but he’ll have some secrets to pull out at the end so we’ll realize he’s a decent, stand up guy after all. Waggle lawyer paper doll and have him blah blah blah, and so on.
The plot was all right through all of that until the big Law and Order courtroom twist at the end. That was just a convenient trick to get out of actually trying to find a solution for such a dilemma. She worked it up to such a point that there was no way out that would sit well with an audience, there was no good way to wrap it up, so she pulled a rabbit out of a hat. Then she went a step further and did something that I guess some might find bold, but it just made me shout a stream of obscenities and then made me thankful that I had just skimmed the second half of the book and didn’t really invest in it at all. Otherwise, I would have been furious with such an ending.
This is the second Jodi Picoult book I’ve tried to read. I didn’t like the other one either (Vanishing Acts), so I guess I won’t be reading anything else by this author.
The subject matter was hard at the start, but it got easier as the book progressed, because I started to really dislike t**spoiler alert** Spoilers...
The subject matter was hard at the start, but it got easier as the book progressed, because I started to really dislike the main character.
Yes, I understand and appreciate the dichotomy of the mother/daughter relationship, especially a dysfunctional one. I get the love/hate thing. I really, really do. But, the fact that she owned her hatred of her mother at such an early age--she acknowledged it and expressed it, I mean she OWNED it, but then she only acted out the "loving daughter" part, was so disingenuous. But, if we're to accept that this is who that character was, then she was just weak and sick. And continued to be weak and sick, all through her marriage, hurting her husband and her children all while openly hating the mother that she insisted on caring for, and then finally killing that mother. The character was 49 at the time of the story, and in all those years, from the first spark of hatred of her mother when she was little, did she ever think that this was all unhealthy and wrong? She was closed off, cold, cruel, pushing everyone away, even her children (which I found so hard to read, that she went on and on about her dislike of her older child) and never had any inkling to change? Oh, she saw the one therapist once, who was apparently just as nuts as she was, and talked about her hostility towards his "probing." It was all just too weird to accept.
Then her having sex with her best friend's son was even more hard to stomach than her killing her mother. I mean, that feels almost incestuous, doesn't it? The son was grown, and apparently had a crush on this woman for a long time, but still, I don't understand how you can have sex with someone who is the child of your best friend. Someone you've had an adult role in raising since birth. It was, as I said, worse than the murder she'd just committed, IMO. After I realized that I truly did not like this woman, anything about her, it was even harder to plod through her narcissism over her figure (realizing that if she had not taken such good care of her figure she wouldn't have had the strength to murder her mother, nor be attractive to her friend's son--oh GAG me!--and her going on and on about how plump her friend was, in a not-nice way--again, who is SHE to put down anyone!?!)
See, the book wasn't presented as maybe the diary of Charles Manson would be, like it's supposed to be a spectacle of horrors, hard to get through because that level of sickness is just so out of our understanding. It was presented kind of like we were supposed to maybe sympathize with her and root for her. I think she was supposed to come across as weak and having made bad decisions, but "damaged" by her upbringing. I think we were supposed to recognize that she made bad choices, but also feel compassion for her because of what she'd gone through, and her conflicting emotions. I didn't though. At first I did. But, then the stuff with the friend's son came in and the stuff about the kind of mother she was, and that she just never even tried to stop wallowing in her own illness. I just thought she was selfish and a horrible person.
The end was mildly redeeming. Yes, she was going to take responsibility for it, finally, and try to repair her broken relationships (from prison, or a mental institution, more likely). But, it was too little too late.
What I truly hated about the book was that it is the opposite of what I like and what I hope to achieve in my own writing. I am all about stories of people who come from sickness and bad luck and through whatever (the unexpected love from others, their own strength, some luck that graces them, assistance from doctors, teachers, mentors), they are able to get out of the muck and make something of themselves. I'm not even talking big success stories like The Persuit of Happyness. Even just little ones like Dead Poets Society, where the big prize is having the courage to ask out a girl, or tell your parents you don't want to be a lawyer. Just to get over the negative weight and live a normal life. I am all about stories of rising above whatever handicaps you were born with or dealt early on. I like to see stories where people were born "freaks" and then somehow normalized that title, made it work FOR them, taking what they've been given and gaining strength from it.
This was the opposite of that. This took a person, put her in a bad situation (yes, her childhood was bad, but it wasn't the worst I've seen by any measure) and then held her head under its water until she drowned in it. It took what could have been a quirky person from a less-than-ideal upbringing, spun her around and turned her into a freak, instead of taking a person out of a horrible place and turning her into a hero. I just don't like those kinds of books, I guess. I just had a really, really hard time with this woman's lifetime of submission to weakness and selfishness and felt that there shouldn't even be a book written about this kind of person unless it is clearly stated that we are supposed to genuinely dislike her. And, well, I genuinely dislike plenty of selfish and weak people who have done real-life bad things to me and others, so I just don't want to invest my recreation time to it, too.
Oh man, this book was awful. I can't believe I finished it. It would have made a good drinking game if you were reading it at a party, though. You couOh man, this book was awful. I can't believe I finished it. It would have made a good drinking game if you were reading it at a party, though. You could do a shot whenever a character started a sentence with hell, or used damn as an adjective or said that something "damn near" happened. It wasn't that they were swear words that offended me, it was that there were a MILLION ZILLION of sentences like that. It got to where I had to set the book down and groan at parts to rally myself into plunging ahead to see if the plot paid off.
It did not.
The writing was not only bad, it was lazy. He could have been more descriptive and created better dialog if he'd put any sort of effort into it at all, instead of just going right to, "Hell, it was dark... but it was a damn good one... and he damn near fell off..." I found myself recreating the sentences in my head as I read, to make them more bearable.
In a book that's over 500 pages long, you have to use tricks like that to make yourself get to the end, if that's your goal.
The plot was predictable and forgettable. And then he padded it with meaningless drivel to add thickness between the covers. There were probably about 498 pages of fluff, seriously, Neil Gaiman could have told this story in three pages and made your spine shiver with it, instead of wanting to throw it across the room when you were done. ...more
I started this book twice and just couldn't get into it either time. The first time was ON vacation and I figured there was just so much going on in mI started this book twice and just couldn't get into it either time. The first time was ON vacation and I figured there was just so much going on in my real life that I couldn't be sucked into the plot of this book.
The second time was right after I finished reading The Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which isn't really fair because anything would pale in comparison to that.
But, while Oscar Wao was a book about tragic characters chained to their ancestral past, which branched out in snarly directions both bizarre and repeating, it had humor and it broke rules with language and style that no other book ever has. It had a narrative voice unique to itself (and then the "omniscient third person narrator" stepped out from behind the curtain and revealed himself as a true character in the book, eliciting just one more, "Whoooa, Dude! Cool trick!" from its collective readership.).
Monsters of Templeton seemed to be about tragic characters chained to their ancestral past, which branched out in snarly directions both bizarre and repeating, and it was ordinary in the telling, a predictable narrator, doing nothing more than moving the plot along. Humor was thin and token and of the "madcap" variety. Nothing that actually knocked the wind out of you.
It was just blah. It was my hometown lake after seeing the Pacific Ocean. It was, "Yeah, OK, what else have you got?" Frankly, I just don't have time for that. Moving on.
Oh my God, this book was sooooo bad. The characters were like paper dolls and the dialogue was unbelievable. The whole plot was just unreal, too. AreOh my God, this book was sooooo bad. The characters were like paper dolls and the dialogue was unbelievable. The whole plot was just unreal, too. Are there people that dumb in the world? I hope I never meet them.
The only reason I finished the book was to see which macho man--the tall, built, sweet government guy or the sensitive but tough mafia due--was going to win the damsel in distress at the end. I uh, won't spoil it for you in case you, too, want to muddle through it to find out for yourself. ...more
Eh. It was eh. I liked her first book, Field of Darkness. It had a lot of holes in it, but I really liked the main character and forgave the unevennesEh. It was eh. I liked her first book, Field of Darkness. It had a lot of holes in it, but I really liked the main character and forgave the unevenness of the writing and the plot because it was her first book.
Crazy School is her second book, same main character, but it’s a big step down from the other book. She relied too heavily on the work she’d done building up the characters in the first book and was negligent with developing them further in this one.
And the timeframe was weird. It was a little odd in the first book, too, but weirder in this one. The first book took place in the mid 80’s, and the main character was in her mid-twenties. In this one, the book is in 1989 and the character is in her later-twenties. It’s hard enough in the Sue Grafton books (A is for Alibi, etc) to remember that Kinsey doesn’t age in real time, but rather from book to book, so that those take place in the 80’s. But, Sue Grafton can do that because she’s a well-established author and she started that series in the 80’s and that’s how she chose her character to age. But, for this book, from someone brand new, it’s just strange. Why not make it real time? What was the point in having the time lapse, other than laziness on the part of the author, not wanting to update things to real-time.
Anyway, in this book, Madeline was teaching troubled teens inside a very bizarre psychiatric institution. It was poignant to me because 1) I was a troubled teen in the late 80’s, so much so that I could have almost been one of the kids in the institution she wrote about (mine would have been more circa 1986 though) and 2) I was a social worker in an almost identical institution in Ohio just a few years later (’92-early ’94), so I could identify with both sides in this book with just a little wiggle room with the ages on either side. So, I can say with complete authority, she had it all wrong.
The dialect was wrong, for both sides (I don’t remember anyone saying, “dude” in 1989, that’s a much more recent thing), and her psychobabble seemed second-hand fake and mocking. Nobody I worked with in social work was anything like this main character (but maybe that’s because this main character was soooo much better at her job than any of us were—big eye roll here). And none of the kids had any depth at all. Then the character's proclamation at the end about how therapy is worthless for depression and you should just take prozac was so out of left field, it was just the fitting ending for such a freaky and ill-written book.
I don’t know why I bothered finishing the book, really, other than the turf being so familiar in so many ways, but mishandled so offensively that I just had to see it to its end.
Not a great mystery, not a great storyline, no wonderful character development, the dialog was choppy and inaccurate. I guess it’s worse than an “eh” when all is said and done. I guess it sucked, dude.
Stupid, stupid book. I read the first bunch of pages until I felt blood streaming out of my eyes, and then I flipped to the back fifteen or so pages tStupid, stupid book. I read the first bunch of pages until I felt blood streaming out of my eyes, and then I flipped to the back fifteen or so pages to see how it ended and was so glad I hadn't wasted any more time with this stupid, stupid book. ...more
I really wanted to like this book. It had such an interesting premise. The first few chapters sucked me in becausOh, it is so hard to have everything!
I really wanted to like this book. It had such an interesting premise. The first few chapters sucked me in because these were kids my son's age and their lives were so foreign to me. But, on the whole, it was so, so dripping with angst and melodrama that it just got harder and harder to read. Just so much emotional tragedy. Not one character who was all right in any way. Humorless, dry, self-involved people who behaved and spoke in ways I've never seen people act or heard people talk. It just got so dull.
The idea of the book was a good one and handled with some humor and a lighter touch, it really might have been great. ...more
Holy cow how I hated this book. I thought the characters were snobby and humorless, although it was obvious they thought themselves intellectual artisHoly cow how I hated this book. I thought the characters were snobby and humorless, although it was obvious they thought themselves intellectual artistes. I would not like these people in real life. And the author just added convenient variations to time travel lore whenever she found herself in a tight spot....more
I really tried to like this book. I tried to read it twice. The second time, I got to the part with the backflash with the Russians driving the weddinI really tried to like this book. I tried to read it twice. The second time, I got to the part with the backflash with the Russians driving the wedding party on the dogsled...I thought it was funny, but it wasn't supposed to be funny. I gave up after that....more
I thought I'd like this book. I didn't like the main characters though (the woman was weak and silly and the man was two dimensional). I quit readingI thought I'd like this book. I didn't like the main characters though (the woman was weak and silly and the man was two dimensional). I quit reading it towards the middle when I admitted I just didn't care at all what happened to these people....more
It takes itself way too seriously. Tries too hard to be horrifying. I didn't like the main character at all. Too many coincidences and convenient overIt takes itself way too seriously. Tries too hard to be horrifying. I didn't like the main character at all. Too many coincidences and convenient overlapping threads to cover problems with the premise....more