K's Reviews > The Pact

The Pact by Jodi Picoult
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's review
Feb 28, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: mysteriesthrillers

How did three of my friends end up reviewing this book on the same day, especially when at least two of them didn't read it that recently? Did I miss a review contest or something?

Anyway, I couldn't resist adding my opinion to the pile. This was my first Jodi Picoult book, and as I read it, I was captivated. She chooses good topics, and her writing really pulls you in. At the time, reading her can feel intellectually stimulating as her books raise interesting psychological questions.

However, there's something about Jodi Picoult's books that makes them fall short of actual literature, no matter how stimulating and readable they are in the moment. I've thought a lot about what that might be, and discussed the topic at length with my sibs. In "The Pact" in particular, reading other reviews (especially the one in "The New York Times") helped me formulate my thoughts.

Although "The Pact" touches on a variety of psychological issues, Jodi deals with them more superficially and appears to be concentrating her energy on the trial scenes, so that this reads more like a legal thriller than like a psychological study. For example, the enmeshment of the two families, and its effect on Chris and Emily's relationship, was an interesting topic which had the potential to be dealt with more deeply. What's it like to be in a relationship that almost feels forced by the other person's constant proximity? What does it do to you when you're feeling ambivalent about the relationship but feel like you can't get out without hurting two whole families, much less your boyfriend himself? I felt that Jodi paid lip service to this dilemma but could have addressed it in more depth.

Additionally, as many people have pointed out, Emily's suicidality seemed a bit unfounded. It's true that the molestation incident was traumatic, but many people survive years of repeated molestation, sometimes by family members who are meant to keep them safe, and are less profoundly scarred. I wish Jodi had delved more deeply into Emily's character and made the road to suicidality more complex and therefore, believable. And does it make sense that her attentive parents never suspected her suicidality, or tried to address it in any way? Did she never give them any signs? I'm reviewing this in retrospect about 10 years after I read it, so it's possible I'm not remembering certain details; however, I think my general sense of superficiality in this area is more or less accurate.

Lots of goodreads reviewers complain that Emily was weak and unlikeable, which to me attests to how undeveloped her character was. This would have been a better book had Jodi developed her more and made her stronger, even if the basic premise had been the same.

I gave it four stars, and I still feel it was a better book than most three-star books, if for no other reason than its high level of readability and unputdownableness (great word, huh?). I thought "My Sister's Keeper" was a little better, though still not great literature. I'd still read Jodi over a Harlequin any day, but unfortunately that's not saying a whole lot.
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09/08/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Shulamit (new)

Shulamit Hi everyone:
I don’t believe in coincidences. I just came back home from finishing “the pact” and found this review!
So now my turn:
So far "the pact" has been one of Picoult’s favorite. I like the way she engages me and I don’t want to stop reading.
Like others, I also felt I didn’t really see Emily. I didn’t believe her suicidal stand, not after a one time sexual bad encounter, we know people survive rape and sexual abuse but, OK, lets say she was had a weak ego — though she’s described strong somehow. I felt it was not as good as it promised to be. Since Picoult always has some twist at the end, I was expecting still a new twist, something else.
Anyway, after her 4th novel, I have had enough of her.

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