Tuesday 6 December 2011

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

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. 
Source: Owned
Score: 2 out of 5 (2 points for the beginning sections).


  1. Despite the book being Not Very Good, it was still better than the movie, which I saw before reading it. What a terrible film that was.

  2. Oh dear, I was hoping the film would be better than the book!

  3. I read the book but I can't remember the ending. But I do remember that I liked it just okay.

  4. I saved this up quite a while after it first had all the hype and so on. It wasn't a favourite overall. I think even though the hype had died down a little, I was still expecting too much from it maybe.

  5. I can't remember the ending either for some reason, although I do remember not enjoying the book. It was a bit too much for my imagination at the time I think.

    I just posted about The Marriage Plot, (another highly popular book,) and my final opinion was completely changed by the ending (this time for the better). I don't know if I like that very much--books that are made or broken by their endings--I think I'd rather the endings jive with the rest of the story a little more.

  6. Sabrina, I had a violent reaction to the ending, I guess others were underwhelmed?

    Lindsay, I think people over-reacted to this book. It wasn't nearly as good as the hype led me to believe.

    Melody, I so want to read The Marriage Plot, I'm hoping Santa brings it for me this year! I usually prefer predictable endings because then I can get into the flow of the story.

  7. I felt the same way. This was not a favorite of mine.

  8. This still remains one of my favourite books but it is tending to get bumped down the list as I read more :D I wonder if re-reading it would change my opinion of it. The movie is just okay (it's the visual effects and the brilliant Stanley Tucci that carry it). The book is much better IMO. I think the ending occured in much the same way that Susie could see her family and (*tiny spoiler*) subtly signal to her father. Willing suspension of disbelief required :)

  9. I had trouble with the end of the book, too. I thought the book was well written and I did like it more than the movie. I read Lucky by this author- which was very moving. I believe it is an autobiography.


  10. Beachreader, it does seem to attract strong opinions either way!

    Teacher/Learner, that always happens to me with favourite reads, they tend to get downgraded after a while. I don't think I will hunt out the film.

    Fairday Morrow, thanks for visiting my blog, I'm now off to visit yours. Maybe I would enjoy Lucky more than The Lovely Bones.

  11. I was sat here for a good few minutes trying to remember the ending because I haven't read it for two years or so. I THINK I remember what it was, and if I'm right, I thought it was rushed and a complete cop-out.

    Like you say, I loved the first two thirds or so but the ending, just.... ugh.

  12. I also hated it! I refused to even try the film after reading the book.

  13. I actually liked the ending, I found that towards the end the book became quite stagnant and kept going over the same subject matter, I thought this particular moment shook things up a little.

  14. I thought the book was very long for nothing happening really until the end (that you find silly). And I thought "well, what's the point?" because nothing happens for a really long time. And when it does, as you say, it is unbelievable. Also the movie is terrible. They cut some scenes that I think they should have neglect because it was important in the book.

  15. I expected something amazing from The Lovely Bones because of all the literary buzz but nothing I read could capture the sheer exhilaration of opening the book and discovering a new literary voice. I shouldn't say literary because the writing is so effortless and real that it feels more like breathing someone else's air. The book is so original I felt as if Sebold was inventing a new writing form. I can't imagine what her influences are because I have never read anything like this book.

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