As a professional reviewer I have promised on this blog and another site I do reviews for, to always be honest. This can be tricky for me when I have to write a not so great review. There are two reasons why I think it is difficult for me personally. The first is that I truly believe that there is someone out there who will enjoy almost any book even if I did not. I would hate to be the person who wrote the review that turned away a reader who would have loved the book, and you just never know who will like what. That comes from being a librarian and always being on a mission to get people to read, no matter what their tastes or choices. The second reason is…I think I might be too nice. I understand how personal an individual’s writing is and I have a hard time ripping it to shreds but very rarely do I dislike something to that level. More often…I am just bored, unimpressed or feel let down. Still I have a hard time even sharing those feelings about books at times.
The “feeling let down” would be my response to House Rules by Jodi Picoult. I have to admit I wait for her books so patiently and almost try to save them to savor for when I am not feeling well or for vacations when I can truly sit back and relax. The thing is…House Rules is a great book, extremely well researched and told by some very well developed characters. I enjoyed it and learned quite a bit. However strong characters and a well thought out plot to me are the basis of Picoult’s writing. She excels at it in my opinion. She also excels at taking those characters and plot and turning the upside down on you at some point. ( *slight spoiler alert ahead*)
That is the one thing I love most about Picoult. She always gets me when she does that…she always has that zinger to her plot that I did not see coming. That is why I enjoy her so much. When you read as much as I do…well let’s just say you rarely get surprised. It’s hard to shock me with plot twists or weave in a surprise seamlessly. And this time I have to say I felt let down. I knew what had happened in this “who-dun-it” almost immediately. Sure, I enjoyed the rest of the book and I learned quite a bit about Asperger’s syndrome. Another thing Picoult does well is write about subjects that may not be well known and bring light to them in the mainstream through her writing. But no matter I still felt let down. When you are expecting something from a writer and they don’t deliver…you just feel like they have tricked you in some way. But is that fair? Should an author be held to certain standards in all their books? What do you think? I will be reading Picoult’s next book no doubt, but perhaps I will not look forward to it so excitedly or race to get it so fast. Perhaps I will worry that there will be no twist like I have been shown to expect. Is that fair? What do you think…has a book or author ever “let you” down?
Other Sunday Snippets
* An interesting article I saw on Librarians in today’s modern age
*An article detailing the travesty that Charlotte, NC is about to undertake if they close 12 of their branch libraries and lay off 140 employees.
*This article goes into more detail about said closings. On a personal note I cannot tell you how very much this all saddens me. I left the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library System almost two years ago with the imminent birth of my son. My very first job as a librarian was at one of the branches they are choosing to close. This branch serves a very low income area and the library is a beacon of light, learning and safety for many in that neighborhood especially the children. What a precious gift to take from those children. It is truly taking books and learning from those who need it the very most.