I usually don't read books that attract a lot of hype. When they are in the middle of that bubble of buzz, my expectations are raised so high that rarely does the book actually live up to it. I've found that if I let the hype subside with time and read the book as just another book, I have more chance of enjoying it. So it was probably about time that I dusted off my copy of The Lovely Bones and gave it a shot.
Susie Salmon is a normal high school girl who is brutally raped and murdered at the age of fourteen. Unable to leave her family and friends, she watches their lives afterwards, desperate both the see how the world carries on without her and for them to realise who the murderer is.
I should start this review by stating that I enjoyed the first half of this book very much. I liked that Sebold reveals who the murderer is straight away and instead focuses on Susie's family and how they try to carry on with life after her death. The emotions and actions of the characters at this point felt realistic and the impact was occasionally powerful. I liked the scene where Susie's sister, Lindsey, is forced to sit through an interview where her principle expresses his condolences and the way she looks through people to avoid having an emotional reaction.
I also enjoyed some of the characters, especially Susie's glamorous Grandmother, who tries to help the family carry on functioning. Some of the other characters I could have done with seeing less of, particularly Ruth, the child-genius-lesbian who could sense death; I felt that she was very cliche and predictable.
So there I was, enjoying my reading - until I got to the end of the book. I'm not going to give away the ending in case some of you haven't read the book, but something very silly and unbelievable happened and it completely ruined the book for me. Took away all credibility from the story and I felt annoyed to have invested so much time in the book only for this paranormal inspired ending to happen. I know I'm supposed to feel touched and moved, but I completely didn't. I was just annoyed.
Verdict: Good first half, shame about the silly ending.
Score: 2 out of 5 (2 points for the beginning sections).