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March 07, 2010

Picoult-a-Thon: Part Four (229-307)

Okay. Things that are driving me crazy:

1. Still with the way Jacob's sections are written. I guess I have nothing new to say about this, but it's either getting worse or bothering me more as time goes on.
2. When Oliver does the Fibonacci sequence thing, why does he get it wrong? Why doesn't Jacob mind? Why do so many characters think the sequence is nonsense? Didn't they go to fifth grade?
3. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that Emma's twice-a-week newspaper column, in Burlington of all places, is a full time job with benefits. No way. This is nuts. It just seems so CARELESS.
4. The various descriptions just don't sound like the Burlington area, either.
5. It seems a little too convenient that Oliver lives above the pizza place where Jess, Mark, and Jacob went. I am waiting for it to become INCREDIBLY SIGNIFICANT at some point.
All that said, I'm still finding this a compelling read. I like Theo and Oliver more and more, and I still don't like Emma and don't know why. I don't think my predictions have really changed since last time.

Posted by Kat at 01:32 PM | Comments (1)

Picoult-a-Thon: Part Three (153-228)

Yeah, notice how I changed that to "part three" instead of "day three"? The schedule is basically out the window at this point: Rachel is done and I'm behind, which is kind of funny seeing as she's the one with homework and kids and everything. I have no good excuse; I ended up opting for spending time with friends today rather than staying home as planned. I will likely finish the book tomorrow, though. I will post short updates as I finish each part, and then hopefully something longer at the end, although I may wait a day or so to digest the novel before my final post.

So! This section. As Rachel said, it was incredibly painful to read what Jacob and Emma and Theo were going through. I think Oliver and Rich are turning out to be my favorite characters, because they're nicely complex, sympathetic but certainly not perfect, and reasonably believable. (I had sort of forgotten who Oliver was by the time we got to him in this section, though. I think he was introduced too early and then not given anything to do for too long. Also, I would sort of like to date him. ANYWAY.) Emma is kind of driving me nuts, although I can't quite put my finger on the reason. I'm liking Theo more and more, so I really hope he doesn't turn out to be lying.

My feelings are mixed on Jacob himself. I think I like the character but don't like the way his sections are written. He uses extended metaphors to explain how literal he is. It's ridiculous. I guess Picoult just can't help herself, and fine, that's how she writes. But that means she should not have tried to write from Jacob's point of view. It's too bad, because the Jacob who appears in the descriptions by others is an interesting, strong character, and the inconsistent nature of his sections takes away from that.

Prediction time! Oh, I don't know. THEY'RE NOT PLAYING FAIR. Not that I really expected them to, since this is Picoult. Both boys have stated that they didn't do it by now, I think, but who knows whether they're lying. (After all the to-do about how Jacob can't lie, I'm expecting him to have at least one major lie at some point.) I still don't think it's actually either of them, though. Time to think outside the box. I'm going to go with Jess's father, the Very Important State Senator. That seems random enough to be Picoultian.

Posted by Kat at 12:38 AM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2010

Picoult-a-Thon: Day Two (79-152)

Confession: I fell asleep reading last night so I read some of this today. I promise I'll be caught up by bedtime tonight, though.

Okay. This is actually getting good. Once again, I'll let Rachel do the hard work and crib her summary:

Ooh, so many possibilities are emerging now. To summarize, we know that Jess is dead; we know that Theo saw her right before she disappeared; we know that Jacob came home from an appointment with her in serious distress; we know that he moved her body and set it up so that the police would find it a few days later; we know that the cops suspect Jess's jerk of a boyfriend. Picoult is setting it up, though, like Jess fell and Jacob cleaned up and moved her body, perhaps (as Katie mentioned) thinking that he's "taking care of his brother" (House Rule number 5) by covering up for him. It also appears that Jacob's forensics obsession is at play here; has he set the scene up as a test for the local PD? It begins to look that way.
Actually, I didn't get that we were supposed to think she fell. I got that we were supposed to think that someone else killed her and Jacob was covering up, possibly because he thought it was Theo. Hmm. But Rachel could be right.

A line I thought was awesome, from Theo: "I make myself ramen noodles and eat them in my room with Coldplay blasting as I do my French homework." Instead of seeming fake, that level of detail was just REAL. And now I want to eat ramen. And listen to Coldplay. Moving on!

Some annoyances:

1. Again, the way Jacob is written, especially in his sections, seems very uneven. I mean, I get that he may not ALWAYS be completely literal, but they imply that he is, and then he just isn't.
2. Rich's behavior toward Emma was too blatantly unprofessional. I mean, fine, I get that he's supposed to be attracted to her, but it doesn't seem like he is in general sufficiently unprofessional to act that way during an investigation, does it?
3. It also seemed unlikely that Rich would discount Jacob as a suspect just because he's autistic.
4. I agree with Rachel about them Not Playing By The Rules. (See: fair play.) This drives me nuts, but I am slightly more likely to forgive Picoult since this isn't actually marketed as a mystery.
5. I still want Mark to have some sort of redeeming trait. And - Mark Maguire? Seriously? Isn't that a little too close to Mark McGwire? Maybe the twist will involve performance-enhancing drugs!
Overall, though, I got pretty into this section, and I can't wait to read more. She certainly knows how to pull the reader in.

I think my prediction will stay the same for now: Each brother thinks he's covering for the other, but a third party is actually involved. Oh, and about the metal thing - sure, I guess the iPod. Hm. Can't think of anything better at this point.

Posted by Kat at 08:14 PM | Comments (1)

March 04, 2010

Picoult-a-Thon: Day One (1-78)

(Rachel's post is here. I will quote and/or refer to some bits of it, but you should go read the whole thing.)

Well! I am fairly impressed so far! I have not wanted to throw the book across the room yet! As Rachel said, it's a pretty quick read, and the fact that it changes narrators every few pages helps this - there's a fair amount of white space. The font switches aren't driving me crazy quite as much as I thought they would.

Some specific things:

1. As Rachel says, the sections from the point of view of Jacob, the character with Asperger's, just don't ring true. Everyone goes on about how literal he is, but he doesn't think literally. Hey, Rachel, how does this compare to Curious Incident? (Should I bring that on vacation?)
2. Again, as Rachel says, infodumpy and advocate-ish. And not necessarily in a good way, although I suppose I can't fault Picoult for saying what the character believes. But the bit about vaccinations drove me nuts, because Emma said "The jury is still out on this" but then admitted that no studies have shown any connection. And ALSO that section had nothing to do with what came before or after, so it was thrown in there JUST to be issuey.
3. On the other hand, for someone who is trying to be such an advocate, it seems like Emma (and Jacob) goes around casually "diagnosing" people with Asperger's a lot. YOU ARE NOT A PROFESSIONAL. STOP IT. Especially WHILE COMPLAINING about parents using it to justify having bratty kids.
4. I also thought the crime scene was fairly obvious, although I do read/watch a lot of mysteries. Regardless of the hypothermia part, though, I thought it was really dumb that Rich (the detective) was all "Sexual assault seems like a given" when the victim's underwear was on and there were NO SIGNS of sexual assault. This just makes Rich look stupid, when the rest of his section doesn't really support that. I get that this was a vehicle for showing how clever Jacob is, but I feel like Picoult threw it in there without considering how it would make other characters look.
5. Theo (the younger brother) is creepier than I expected, and Rachel is totally right about Picoult BEATING US OVER THE HEAD with "Oh! He's doing this creepy stuff because he wants a normal family!"
6. I have mixed feelings about Jess. I don't know. The whole "Jacob didn't realize she was being paid" thing seemed somewhat unlikely, and it would be nice if her boyfriend had ANY redeeming problems. They're basically just caricatures so far.
And now, predictions! Rachel says:
I'm still leaning toward Jacob as the guilty party, and it will have something to do with Emma's family's House Rule Number 5, which states, "Take care of your brother; he's the only one you've got." (hence the title, see?)
I think at this point I will predict that it is NEITHER brother, but each brother thinks it's the other and is trying to protect him. Maybe it is the evil boyfriend. Also, I am expecting the father to reappear soon, and/or Emma and Rich to get together. I am also expecting the advice column to end up holding CLUES somehow.

Posted by Kat at 09:00 AM | Comments (2)

March 03, 2010

Picoult-a-thon: Before We Begin

My friend Rachel and I are going to be reading the Jodi Picoult book that came out yesterday, and liveblogging it more or less as we go. I'm going to just quote her here:

Why this book? Well, it's almost kind of an inside joke between Katie and myself, but not quite: Picoult is an author with whom we each have a kind of love/loathe relationship (I could be wrong but I think on my part it's more love than loathe, and on Katie's it's more the reverse), and one day not long ago we were chatting about how we should read Picoult's next book together and blog about our predictions for the obligatory Twist Ending (if you've ever read Picoult, you know that every ending must twist; it's the first law of Picoultdynamics)
Well, on my part, it's more that I adore some of Picoult's books (Plain Truth, Salem Falls, most of Nineteen Minutes) but others leave me wanting to throw them across the room. (I'm looking at you, My Sister's Keeper.) And the Twist Endings sort of drive me nuts at this point, because she does them so often that they're just predictable. What would REALLY be a twist at this point would be if there WERE NO TWIST. (Just an idea!)

We're both fairly busy (okay, Rachel's really busy), but we're going to try to read this in a week - 76 pages a day - because I inconsiderately planned a vacation starting next Wednesday, and I don't want to lug a great big hardcover with me, especially if I'm mostly done with it anyway. Since I set up my blog posts for the upcoming day in the evening or early morning, I'll probably look like I'm a day behind, but I'm not. (I hope.) So I'll read through page 76 today, Wednesday, but the post about it will go up on Thursday. (Hey, Rachel? Since the sections are so short, do we want to finish whichever little section we're in rather than stopping exactly on the designated page?)

Rachel summarizes the book so I don't have to:

The jacket blurb tells me that this is a book about a mother of two sons: Jacob, who has Aspergers and is SERIOUSLY into crime-scene analysis, and Theo, who, reading between the lines, been completely neglected and shunted to the side by his single mother in favor of his older brother's issues. Somebody kills somebody, and some people think that the older crime-obsessed son with Aspergers did it.
I would just like to point out that Picoult seems to have a son named Jake, so I find it hard to believe that she's going to have a murderer named Jacob. BUT MAYBE THIS IS PART OF HER OBFUSCATION.

And now, predictions! Rachel:

Without further ado, my first prediction re: the twist ending, based on my not-insubstantial experience with Picoult's previous works: We will be set up to believe that Jacob is innocent and that his brother Theo is the killer, but in fact Jacob will be GUILTY.
I am TORN. My first thought was that the mother will be so focused on clearing Jacob that it won't even OCCUR to her that it could be Theo, so obviously it will be him. My second theory is that Rachel is right, but that Theo will somehow be trying to protect Jacob. Oh! OR it could be the opposite: it IS Theo but Jacob is making it LOOK like it's himself, so our Big Moral Lesson can be something about how Kids With Asperger's Care About People Too. (My dark horse candidate is someone entirely unrelated who the mom thinks is on their side, leading to some sort of dramatic conclusion in which she realizes She Has Trusted The Killer With Her Children.) At this point I suppose I have basically accused everyone, so I guess I'm not really predicting. Oops.

Posted by Kat at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

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