OFFICIAL PLOT & REVIEW
On her way home from school on a snowy December day in 1973, 14-year-old Susie Salmon ("like the fish") is lured into a makeshift underground den in a cornfield and brutally raped and murdered, the latest victim of a serial killer--the man she knew as her neighbor, Mr. Harvey. Alice Sebold's haunting and heartbreaking debut novel, The Lovely Bones, unfolds from heaven, where "life is a perpetual yesterday" and where Susie narrates and keeps watch over her grieving family and friends, as well as her brazen killer and the sad detective working on her case. As Sebold fashions it, everyone has his or her own version of heaven. Susie's resembles the athletic fields and landscape of a suburban high school: a heaven of her "simplest dreams," where "there were no teachers.... We never had to go inside except for art class.... The boys did not pinch our backsides or tell us we smelled; our textbooks were Seventeen and Glamour and Vogue."
The Lovely Bones works as an odd yet affecting coming-of-age story. Susie struggles to accept her death while still clinging to the lost world of the living, following her family's dramas over the years like an episode of My So-Called Afterlife. Her family disintegrates in their grief: her father becomes determined to find her killer, her mother withdraws, her little brother Buckley attempts to make sense of the new hole in his family, and her younger sister Lindsey moves through the milestone events of her teenage and young adult years with Susie riding spiritual shotgun. Random acts and missed opportunities run throughout the book--Susie recalls her sole kiss with a boy on Earth as "like an accident--a beautiful gasoline rainbow." Though sentimental at times, The Lovely Bones is a moving exploration of loss and mourning that ultimately puts its faith in the living and that is made even more powerful by a cast of convincing characters. Sebold orchestrates a big finish, and though things tend to wrap up a little too well for everyone in the end, one can only imagine (or hope) that heaven is indeed a place filled with such happy endings
I read the book The Lovely Bones in anticipation of the movie by Peter Jackson and I found myself skipping the later parts more often than I thought I would. Put it this way, it is not as terrible as Twilight but it isn't as good as Jeffrey Archer or Stephen King sort of books. In fact it is quite an effort for a first timer but I just couldn't understand...
1. if you're 14, raped, brutally murdered,chopped to pieces and obviously dead, wouldn't you want to find God and just ask "Why me Man? Why?". The book never even point to that, maybe avoiding the trappings of religious overtures BUT heaven is a very religious concept. How can this girl be so cool with her death?
2. She may not be able to do anything much to those who are alive but she has never tried to see if she can haunt her killer, not once. I would definitely try to scare him, and even if I can't I would make up a fuss why I can't.
3. She doesn't seem to hate her killer enough. She seems...zen like about her death.
4. The book did describe one of the most difficult scene, the luring of the girl,rape and the aftermath. The rape a bit but nothing tasteless like for publicity sort of way. BUT the book missed the opportunity to describe how she felt at dying time. Her rape was given a few paragraphs but her moment of death, one sentence. After that she was in Heaven but very little to describe how she felt in her dying moment, her adjusting to the death. The book did say she can go to heaven proper sort of thing if she were to accept her death and let the living live their lives which she couldn't until the end but the problem is she didn't seem to be the sort who can't let go. Her role is more as an observer and I hope the movie will make her an active participant.
5. Her father who was convinced the killer is her killer suddenly stopped being convinced and a decade or so passed and the killer dies but not from the act of revenge by his father. Such a devastating death and not one para to describe perhaps the father's rage. And I mean RAGE, not anger. I am disappointed after a while everybody seems to let her death go whilst the grief lingers. No no no! Anger comes first, anger fuels grief!
6. Her mother has an affair with the detective but the book justified it as a meaningless sort of sex, like letting go sort of sex. The mother walked out of the family and children for a decade or so and the book justified it as well coping with the protaganist's death. The only one to show any backbone and anger to the mother's abandonment was the young son. The protaganist decided not to judge her mother as she observed the mother's actions. I find this hard to believe. Why is it when a child dies the father deals with grief with thoughts of murder but the mother goes on to have sex and leaves the family? And the anger is just touch and go. There's an happy ending for the mother. I find the mother irresponsible, living in her own la-la land and very annoying.
7. The police did not even investigate. I mean the killer killed I think more than 5 girls or so. The detective was too busy having sex with the mother. When he found out there may be connections to other murders, nothing much was done to track him down. I mean useless detective.
8. The heroine fell to earth and entered another body after a decade or so observing her family, friends and first love and what did she do? She rushed to have sex with her one time first puppy love. Only later she remembered to call her brother but that was too late. She had to go. So...not going after your killer, not seeking your beloved daddy to give him one last hug, not see your sister and say good bye but sex.
9. This book also talks about her friends and I find them irrelevant and boring because one girl wasn't even her best friend. A whole large part was about her younger sister but that was a fluke. It was more on her younger sister's love life and when she did do something for the dead like stalking the killer, it ended abruptly. She didn't even seek the killer out later on. It ws like suddenly she just let go.
10. The killer saw the younger sister stalking him and what did he do? Nothing. Very anti climax.
11. The killer's end, so no justice. So did she move the icicle or what? More like just pure luck he lived for many years and just die falling down. I want a violent end and I want justice. It was like none. And this is a child rapist and killer mind you.
12. If you find the killer's story more interesting than the protaganist, surely the author has failed. And indeed, I find the killer more interesting. I find the heroine bland, her family bland, her story in the after life bland, and not very descriptive.
13. And the final ending, whilst reaching the end where the protaganist herself was able to let go of her family and move on as her family so easily did, I find it again bland. What is acutely missing is confusion, anger or rather maybe the author didn't describe it well.
14. One part I was moved and touched was a one paragraph of her dog, dead of old age finding her in her version of Heaven, where only those who has in common or truly seek can find each other and obviously the dog was seeking her. Other than that, bland.
15. The worst part was her falling down to earth and her mind was sex.
16. The entire book, like how a female author would write is all about feelings, how I feel, how they feel, how he feels. With all the feelings, I still feel the book empty in soul. It is like missing something and after thinking about it I realise I may have set the standard too high as this was her first effort. But penmanship is so important and I find the book badly paced. After like halfway through it was like suddenly the author ran out of things to say and so just went on to reach the target of a novel or number of pictures.
Most fantastic debut? Nope. Great story? Nope. If I remember correctly there was a similar sort of storyline in Christopher Pike's Remember Me, which was a shorter and more exciting book, more of a thriller than a philosophical one which this present book tries to be. Interesting read? Yes, until halfway. Will the movie be better? It seems the movie cut out several pivotal scenes.
My point is read and judge for yourself. I myself find it an ok read but not earth shattering good that I can't put down the book. That honour goes to the recent book I read, Jeffrey Archer's Prisoner Of Birth. Now that is one hell of a book and definitely a page turner but in the true Archer way, his ending as in the last chapter always kinda suck but every page before the last page was indeed a page turner!
Not this present book though.
The entire story here. MAJOR SPOILERS!