The Lovely Bones: So. bad.


I feel like this one might an “emperor’s new clothes” kind of case. I mean, it can’t be that so many reviewers out there got it so. wrong. It must be instead that someone wrote a glowing review (maybe as a joke? maybe for cash money?) and then rather than admit that they couldn’t see that there was nothing but a terrible, awful, no good, very bad book, everyone sort of shrugged and said, yeah, well, okay, it’s worth a read. No, no it’s not.

I’m feeling so scathing I think it might be time for another itemized list of the bad (I know, you’ve been waiting and hoping):

1. Little white girls: The book opens with an preface/acknowledgement (sort of) that girls of all colours get kidnapped and killed. And then begins a (very) uncomfortable foray into the fetishization of little white girls. Cue the “daughter-daddy” creepiness of Purity Balls.

2. Characterization: I do not care for characters because I know what kind of shampoo they use, or what drink they like after dinner. The novel reads like an endless exercise in character sketches with characters routinely brushing hair from their eyes and holding ceramic mugs of tea. I care for characters when I’m privy – through thought or action – to their motivations, not simply their thoughts or actions. “I felt sad,” is not character development.

3. Similes. With the (only) exception of Tom Robbins, authors who write purposefully vague or unusual similes (like the chestnut sun, like the tired watermelon) should have a firm and persuasive editor remind them that no reader wants to read those similes, and especially not for pages and pages on end.

4. A cliche conclusion to a trite and cliche novel is alas, cliche. I just have to say it: an icicle?! Are you kidding?! An icicle?!

5. “Buckley” is not an endearing name for a little boy. I kept confusing him with the dog. Maybe because he and the dog had the same level of character development?

6. I’ve had a glass of wine and feel like I may be being unfair. And then I think again about the icicle, and realize I’m not.

But I do think I’ll stop there. I’m not out of reasons I don’t like the book, but I am out of patience for thinking about it. For once I’m pleased I have a terrible memory, here’s hoping this one disappears quickly.


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Filed under 100 Books of 2011, Fiction, Worst Books

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