Marty's Reviews > The Brethren

The Brethren by John Grisham
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Feb 06, 08

bookshelves: attic-bookshelf
Read in May, 2007

I would not say I'm a reluctant John Grisham reader. I just haven't felt a dying urge to search out his novels. Maybe I'm just afraid of any sort of legal setting and try to avoid it in any medium it's presented in. Finally, I picked up a paperback of Grisham's novel, Runaway Jury and plodded through it. Certainly he can present some very intriguing characters and situations, and his mastery of plot intricacies and how it plays out demonstrated to me why he has garnered the bestselling status he has. And yet, halfway through the book, I realized that, though all the characters were interesting, I didn't connect personally with any of them. They all seemed to be despicable, corrupted characters going about and doing despicable, corrupted deeds. Well, it's hard for me to not finish a book I've started, so I plodded through anyways, not really caring about the result. Imagine my surprise when Grisham pulled it off. He had a slam bang plot twist at the end, plus, he completely redeemed my view of a couple of the characters. I loved Runaway Jury and became an instant Grisham fan. By saying that, I don't mean, of course, that I went out and actually read more of his stuff (I mean, let's not get too carried away here), but I sure did like his one book I read. Fast forward a couple years (or a ton, I guess I'm not getting any younger). With a few minutes on hand and desperate to keep myself from using those few minutes from actually thinking in any way, I picked up the nearest book at hand in my parent's house. John Grisham's, The Brethren. Once again, Grisham reeled me in with an interesting premise and intriguing characters. About halfway through the novel, once again, I began to complain to my wife that there was no redeemable character, no one to root for, nothing to ultimately care about. As I told her this, I realized that Grisham must be pulling another one-two on me. Brilliant. He's hiding one of his good characters again and there will be a carefully contrived twist at the end. Bravo! With this in mind, I read much more enthusiastically. I even thought I figured out which character would be redeemed. I had it all worked out in my mind and wondered how Grisham was going to pull it off to match. And how did he? ... well, to my frustration, he didn't. No character redemption. No twist. The story ended, and that was it. Why? Why would Grisham do that? He had the ability ... he even had a probable character with which to do it ... but he chose the anti-climax instead. I have several theories. He was bitter that they changed parts of Runaway Jury for the movie, so he ensured that he would make this story completely unfilmable. Take that, Hollywood! Or, he was planning on turning it all around at the end, but he never figured out how to do it, a deadline came, so he just finished it and turned it in. Those are two major possibilities, but I suspect it was something different. I suspect he came up with a cool plot idea, and then decided to play it out. Then, at the end, the pay off is that the guys get away with their scheme. Ehhhh. I suppose that is a semi-forgivable offense. Unfortunately, the only way that works is if the reader isn't fully aware of some aspect of the scheme and then it is all revealed at the end and we are wowed and like the story. Not in this case. The scheme is given away, pretty much in its entirety, right off the bat. Therefore, when they get away with it in the end, I thought ... well, yeah, that's what they had planned. What's the big deal? Besides that, their big heist was something they couldn't have planned for and stumbled into by sheer dumb luck. So what do we have at the end? Unsympathetic criminals deceiving unsympathetic victims in a predictable, non-climax ending. Well, my Grisham experience is 1-1. I'm not looking for a tiebreaker, but I have a funny feeling one will end up finding me someday anyway.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Jake (new)

Jake Paragraphs man! Are you writing for yourself or so others can hear your opinion too? :)

Marty Jake wrote: "Paragraphs man! Are you writing for yourself or so others can hear your opinion too? :)"

Actually, for myself.

message 3: by Jake (new)

Jake Infantile, not funny, and apparently untrue. Well done!

Marty Perhaps infantile, somewhat funny, but still true … and definitely reactionary.

I suppose my expectations are for people to read these non-professional reviews for content, not formatting, and my early reviews really were just intended to be thoughts jotted down for future reference. However, I admit I may have used a knee-jerk reaction, especially because I initially didn't see the emoticon at the end of your comment. So my apologies.

Still though, wouldn't you say emoticons are somewhat infantile? ;-)

message 5: by Jake (new)

Jake Yes despite years of familiarity I'm still not comfortable using emoticons; they always feel a bit childish. Truth is though they convey tone better than phrasing can much of the time.

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