Friday, November 13, 2015

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold Review

"The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder -- a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family's need for peace and closure.

The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished.

Sebold creates a heaven that's calm and comforting, a place whose residents can have whatever they enjoyed when they were alive -- and then some. But Susie isn't ready to release her hold on life just yet, and she intensely watches her family and friends as they struggle to cope with a reality in which she is no longer a part. To her great credit, Sebold has shaped one of the most loving and sympathetic fathers in contemporary literature."
Alright, this is going to be a short review. I have thought about this book for a long time, and I'm unable to find much words about it. 

The Lovely Bones centers around the lives of Susie's family, and the characters are trying to cope with Susie's death. Well, they don't exactly know that Susie is dead, and that is precisely what is the hardest about it. The suffering. The fear of the unknown. The lack of knowledge. All of that plus the tauntings of a rapist/serial killer who is hurting the family even more than he already has.

So it's really ugly. Very ugly. 

Each member copes in their own way. Susie's parents fall apart, and Susie's mother finds comfort in another man. Susie's younger siblings and friends don't exactly understand what has happened, but eventually, they do understand. The entire town is shocked by it, and the afterwaves are felt. Slowly, things change and they slip back into... a normal life. Well, normal for those who aren't directly involved. 

The villain of the book is absolutely disgusting, and I think that is probably what Alice Sebold does best. She totally writes him very well, and I love it. Well, I also hate it (but mostly because of the character and his actions). I totally cheer on Susie's father to find the villain, but... The plot turns out the way it turns out. 

The world building is good. We get to see bits of Susie's heaven, and we start to see a little bit of how Susie can travel from character to character. It's really interesting, and it gives her a wider perspective. But not without bias, of course. 

But the ending is the downfall. It's strange, and the slight plot twist just throws me off. Suddenly, Susie is allowed to possess someone? Okay... Also, the way the villain went down isn't satisfying, but... it's perfect for Susie. (Just not satisfying for me.) 

Overall, The Lovely Bones is the kind of story I read once. I'm not sure about how readers would feel, but I'm on the fence with this one. *shrugs* The beginning is noticeably strong. 

Rating: Two Point Five out of Five (Rounded to Two)

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