Bibliofiles: The Lovely Bones; #dreadful

The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold
Fiction / Terrible Muck
368 Pages

So I found this book at Salvation Army for $0.50. I knew one of my dear friends had read it and raved about it. I also knew that when I was younger, this book was on the best sellers list, and critics were giving it outstanding reviews. After reading roughly one hundred pages, my response is, "What the HECK were you thinking, America?!"

Before I begin (in case you don't know this), this is not a YA novel. If it were in Barnes & Noble, it would be in the "adult fiction" section. I don't think anyone under the age of fourteen should read this. You should further note, I couldn't bring myself to finish the thing, so this review is incomplete.

Now, back to my review. This book is about a girl named Susie Salmon. She's in junior high. She just got her first kiss. She has plans to take the high school world by storm. And then, she is murdered by her disgusting neighbor, who just so happens to be a serial killer, Mr. Harvey. Well... looks like Susie won't be ruling the high school corridors, after all.

After her death, we see Susie in heaven. This isn't the heaven with pearly gates and gold-gilded floors; quite the contrary, this heaven is tailored to Susie's needs, specifically. So, there's a school, but there are no teachers. She only takes the classes she likes. She can set the hallways ablaze (literally), and not get in trouble. Apparently, the definition of heaven is the ultimate freedom to be an idiot without consequences; but I digress. Anyway, from her heaven, Susie can see the lives of those whose lives she touched with her untimely death. Her feelings as a "ghost" affect her family members--her dad especially. Susie's death seems to drive a divisive wedge between her family members as they all deal with their grief in different ways.

Really, this book wouldn't have been so bad if the writing were decent--but Sebold really uses some odd word choice in describing her characters and setting. For example, when speaking of a teenage girl who has a crush, Sebold writes, "Her heart, like an ingredient in a recipe, was reduced." Or later on, Sebold describes someone's eyes to look like "ferocious olives." Um, excuse me, but how can an olive be "ferocious."

Oh, and here's my favorite. When Susie describes her first kiss, Sebold writes it was "like an accident--a beautiful gasoline rainbow." I later realized she was talking about the psychedelic colors gasoline makes when in a water puddle; but seeing "accident" and "gasoline rainbow" made me imagine a massive car wreck scene with excessive pyrotechnics--and then I associated that image with something like a kiss... just too funny.

Combine some terrible, laugh-out-loud worthy descriptions with jumbled structured (an attempt to reflect Susie's state in limbo, no doubt) and a very slow to move plot (I wouldn't even call it a plot--just a large collection of descriptions); stir over medium-high and reduce. The result? A book I couldn't finish. And given that I'm usually of the mind that once I start a book, I have to finish, it says a lot that I deemed this one unworthy of my time.

In conclusion, what were you thinking, America?

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