Thursday, 22 January 2015

Babbling Book Review: Leaving Time

***WARNING: Contains (very) Minor Spoilers***

Alright everyone, buckle your seat belts.  This is going to be a bumpy ride.

I received Jodi Picoult's new book, Leaving Time for Christmas and immediately started reading it.  I'm a huge fan of her books, and if I had to choose my Top 10 books of all time, 3 (at least) would be authored by her.

Upon finishing Leaving Time, I had to stop myself from writing this review immediately.  However, after mulling it over and processing what I read, I have found my opinion to be unchanged.

This is, quite frankly, the worst book by Jodi Picoult, and possibly one of the worst/most disappointing books I have ever read.

The plot starts of by centering around Jenna, a teenager whose mother, Alice, disappeared when she was a young child and is searching to find out what happened to her.  Along the way she enlists the help of a psychic and the ex-cop who originally worked on the case.

Throughout the novel, Picoult tries too hard to foreshadow information that will come to light later.  In some cases, it is too blatantly obvious, and anyone can see what information is going to be revealed (in 50 pages).  In other cases it fails completely.

What I am beginning to find with Picoult is that all of her novels are formulaic.  They all are written from different perspectives, jumping back and forth to view to plot from the eyes of each character at different points.  There is massive foreshadowing, which culminates in a dramatic climax when suddenly everything makes sense in a flash of clarity, making the reader feel stupid for not figuring out the tangled plot, or being so obvious as to not feel climactic at all.  This is then followed by the tying of loose ends, in which everything is neatly tied into a little bow and wrapped up with the acknowledgements, which themselves are repetitive and formulaic.  The lesson is spelled out for the toddlers reading, and off we march to the next book in our piles of reading material.

This book has one small exception to this formula.  The plot twist (which always comes and sparks the dramatic climax) comes and completely shifts the focus.  Jenna, who up until this point seems to be the central figure, is not.  Instead, the book is really about the psychic, Serenity, and the lesson she is supposed to learn, not Jenna.

The whole ending feels like a cop out.  It is the most simple way to tie up an incredibly convoluted story with plot holes the size of my fist.  The story has little direction, weaving in and out of scenes in choppy rhythm.  The 'plot twist' was a ridiculous way to reach the novel's climax, which if you read it you will understand for yourself.

What I like the most about Picoult's novels is they tend to be fairly realistic.  This one is not, it crosses into the realm of the absurd.

At the end of the day, I give this book a HUGE pass.  I appreciate that the gift-giver knew I like her other works, but this one was a huge flop in my mind.

Hopefully I read something that stirs positive emotions in me next.


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