Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Even my *Trapper* Keeper was more interesting!

I should know by now the more good things I hear about a book, the less likely I will be to enjoy it.

I just finished My Sister's Keeper, by Jodi Picoult, and I highly DON'T recommend it. First problem: I found the method of telling the story through different character's voices to be distracting and a cop out, from a story-telling point of view. I could see how it might have been interesting or well done, but it sadly wasn't. I didn't find that individual character voices were captured. In fact, more than once I had to return to the beginning of the chapter to remind myself which character's POV we were in. That can't be good.

Second problem: it was the most predictable book I think I've ever read. The big "surprise" at the end...um, I kept hoping she wouldn't go there. But she did. And the whole "why" of Anna's lawsuit...also not a big surprise. What, were her lawyer, parents, and guardian complete idiots? Wait, you don't need to answer. I read the book, and yes.

Third problem: why were certain things kept a secret from the reader when everything was told in the first person? It wasn't interesting to have the lawyer keep his need for a guide dog secret from the *reader*...we were supposed to be reading from his point of view! If I'm inside his head, why don't I know the reason? Same thing with all the secrets of Anna and Kate, or what Jesse liked to do in his free time. It wasn't like the story was unfolding to the reader. Things were alluded to, mentioned, but left unanswered. That's a cheat. If you want to keep things a secret, stick with one character's 1st person POV...then all the other characters' internal motivations and secrets can remain a hidden for as long as you'd like without damaging the structure of the book.

Fourth problem: Jesse. The character was completely flat for me, and what a cliche. It was kind of like a preacher's daughter who is a bad girl. Once again, was his way of acting out supposed to be a surprise? It was only surprising that something that trite would be in such a popular book.

Fifth problem: The topic of this story (a girl who sues to gain medical independence at the expense of her dying sister) is just dying, if you'll excuse the pun, to pull at the heartstrings. Number of tears cried during this book: Zero. Sorry, I cry a lot while reading, but this book just made me angry at how badly it was done.

My Sister's Keeper made me want rewrite it the RIGHT way. I mean, the story idea is phenomenal. I haven't felt so strongly annoyed about something like this since Star Wars: Episode One came out. Yes, that pissed me off, too, in a way that made me want to redo it correctly instead of just pretend it never existed.

But, I didn't fan-wank a new Episode One, and I won't rewrite My Sister's Keeper. But I will get it off my bookshelf.

Anyone who read My Sister's Keeper, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Random Unrelated Thought: I did go workout today, and left the boys in the gym daycare for the first time. Well, I got back about forty minutes later, and they were both hysterically crying. I don't know what happened. They go to a drop off playgroup once a week and do fine. I took them to the gym daycare once and stayed with them to make sure they were okay. I dropped them off today and played for a few minutes before letting them know I was leaving and would be back soon.

I feel so guilty. I'll give it another try, but this daycare is really subpar. The facility is nice, but there are way too many kids for the number of adults in the room. Mine were not the only children crying, and there just weren't enough daycare providers to comfort them all. I'm upset because we paid extra to join the "nice" gym mostly because of the daycare option so I'd be able to workout. If I can't leave them there, I can't workout.

If I can't workout, I can't justify my breakfast of chocolate chips. Just kidding. For the record, I had eggs this morning. Chocolate would have been better.


Anonymous said...

Finally - someone in the world who agrees with me on this book! All the positive word of mouth it has received is driving me crazy. Every point you made ticks the box for me as well, plus an extra gripe which for me clinched the deal: the faux-dramatic sentence to end each section. Every time I ended up feeling like I was watching a soapy and they were cutting to commercial on dramatic music and an extreme close up on the actor's face.

It felt like McDonald's emotion - quick, easy, cheap, tastes good but you won't remember it the following day. Usually I'm a prolific cryer when it comes to story (!), but this book made it impossible to get lost in the story because the structure was so self-conscious. It actually took you out of the story. It was a struggle to finish it for me, and by the time of Anna's 'revelation', I no longer cared.

Thanks for this post - can't tell you how good it is to come across someone who agrees! (My whole family are Picoult fans). Maybe you should have a go at re-writing it some day ;)

What A Card said...

Thanks, Sarah, it's so nice to know I'm not alone in disliking this book. I was worried maybe I was just missing the "good" part! You're so right about the dramatic chapter endings that fell flat. There were just so many problems...

Anonymous said...

This book has been in my "to read" pile for quite some time (I actually admire the fact that you find/make the time to read)!

I'll let you know what I think. Just don't hold your breath for the review!

Anonymous said...

I do agree with you that it was confusing to read but i actually loved the book. I cried a river at starbucks talk about people looking at me. jess

T. said...

What A Card, I finally read this book and agree with all of your points 100%. I've read a few of this author's books (due to my involvement in an ill-fated and poorly matched book club), and they are all similar with the different POVs and "dramatic" effects. I felt like I was reading a Hallmark made for TV movie or something. Ah well. The story had a lot of potential. I don't understand why everyone loves this author. This is why I can't be in a book club.