Friday, August 15, 2008

I need to discuss the ending.

On the heels of finishing The Pact, my sister handed me Nineteen Minutes to read, which she said she liked better than The Pact. Being that I had nothing better to do, I read it.

It's fine, engaging. It's a Picoult work through and through - discussing tough issues, a trial, flashbacks, etc. Very similar to The Pact in construction, actually. It was interesting only to see how she would handle this situation of a trial for a kid who'd killed a bunch of other kids. Maybe because in the wake of Virginia Tech, I'd thought of the other side too - how his parents must feel, as well as an ounce of pity for the kid himself - what sort of life he'd led that had driven him to do something so horrific. I'd even toyed with the idea of writing something loosely based upon this, if only because part of me was drawn to the fact that he was the child of Asian immigrants.

But I digress. There were few surprises in Picoult's book - it's pretty much going in the direction you expect it to. Until the ending. (SPOILER!)

The whole thing with Josie and the huge revelation at the end that she'd been the one to shoot Matt Royston first seems to be the climax that Picoult uses to save her book from being predictable. And yet it seems almost a little too out there. Maybe she's writing to compare Peter's immediately obvious suffering to Josie's quieter, smaller one. To showcase the parallel between Peter's torment from the hands of bullies and Josie's abuse at the hand of her boyfriend. But I have to say that all the little clues that lead up to it and then the ultimate revelation, while satisfying in a strange way, also seem a bit... unrelated perhaps? It's a bit much, to have this girl be such a victim of abuse, and for it to come out to not just be Peter, but Josie too. I don't know. I can't put my exact finger on why this thread of story and the ultimate reveal didn't do it for me. Maybe because I felt that the focus of the story should have continued to be on Peter's struggle and redemption for Josie - sure, it's the predictable route, but seeing as the whole book was sort of predictable anyway, it might have been more gratifying. Or maybe I would have been okay with Josie killing Matt, if the clues dropped earlier came together better. The whole, "I hated myself for loving him" thing made it really hard to be sympathetic for her. If Picoult was going to go that route with her, maybe it should have been done more, or in a different way.

But all in all, it's an entertaining read. And a better rendition of the school shooting thing than Lionel Shriver's (which I really didn't like all that much).

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