I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
I'm currently listening to Jodi Picoult's newest novel "small great things". I have read or listened to only 5 of her novels prior to "small great things". My decision here is to review a 2010 release I listened to in 2012. Contemporary fiction is not one of my genres of choice, but about 10% of my reading and listening is of that genre.
House Rules is an excellent novel written by a very talented author who does a lot of research on her topics. The protagonist is a teenage boy with Asperger's syndrome being charged with murder. It is a long novel which kept my attention. As always with Picoult character development is superb. I have two complaints with the novel: (1) It is boring for periods of times and should have 3 hours or so removed. (2) The ending is a little confusing. House Rules is my favorite of the 5 Picoult novels I have read or listened to.
I like the multiple narrator arrangement. The narration is outstanding.
I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.
This book was a giant waste of time. The ENTIRE plot was based on the fact that literally EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER in the book was too stupid to ask Jacob the obvious question: "What happened?"
We spend THE ENTIRE BOOK dancing around this, as Jacob's mother, brother, father, lawyer, and therapist all fail to spend just 3 minutes asking the most obvious questions in the world. These are all people who KNOW that Jacob has difficulty communicating-- but rather than helping him to express himself, they are all content to either avoid asking him what happened, or to COMPLETELY stop pursuing the question when Jacob's answers are ambiguous.
This horrible flaw would not have been forgivable, even if the author had given us a satisfactory resolution in the end. Unfortunately we don't even get that consolation prize, because she doesn't seem to understand the mechanics of her own story. She closes the book with only the subtlest of clues about the fate of our main characters. It is a rushed and sloppy ending that leaves listeners with the impression that she ended the novel about 50 pages too early in order to meet a strict publishing deadline.
Another factor in the author's terrible ending is that she seems to have only the loosest grasp of the legal situation that she is writing about. She seems oblivious to the fact that just because the truth of the crime is finally revealed to the readers, the legal consequences still completely up in the air. So she's either assuming that revealing the truth will put an end to a prosecution, or she feels that ambiguity is an appropriate end to the story. Neither of which is true.
This story should not have ended with a "Lady or the Tiger" situation. The novel was not about the court case, it was about the characters, so the fate of characters should have be resolved.
I listened to this book because the summary gave me the impression that this was a clever novel about a quirky detective in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes or even Monk. It was nothing of the kind.
Oh, and throughout the book, the author hints that vaccines may have caused Jacob's autism. We know today that those allegations were based on FRAUDULENT "science". In other words- the supposed vaccine-autism connection is ENTIRELY without evidence! Get your kids vaccinated, for their own good, please, and for the good of the community in general.
This story had me fascinated for the first twelve hours: I was learning far more than I ever wanted to know about a human disorder, but I realized so-called "normal" people need a look into this disorder because we need insight into a world so strange as to be almost unbelievable, yet some of our fellow beings live with it every day.
The infuriating part was the fact that Ms. Picoult's main character was practically incapable of not speaking the truth, yet for 20 hours of listening, no other character (not one!) in the story, not his mother, his lawyer, the police, the prosecution, his doctors, his father... NO ONE asks this person, who is incapable of telling a lie, "Did you kill the victim?" Or, "Do you know who did?" Picoult just ignores this obvious flaw in her story so she can string us along for hours, and hours, and hours and... Well you get the picture.
If this comes out in an abridged version, I recommend it, but the last seven hours is just more of the same, more of the same, more of the same, more of the same, more of the same, more of the same... It just does not stop! The reader has heard it all before, many times, but she won't stop! It's like she is being paid by the letter, never mind by the word!
Most writers do this to a greater or lesser extent, but Picoult takes it to an extreme, and you want to scream, "Enough, already! Enough! Please stop it!!!
It's a good story, with an important message, and while I have listened to some of my favorite books ten to twenty times, I will NEVER listen to this one again. Once was too much.
I'm a fan of Picoult (not an extravagant flag waver, but I usually enjoy her books enough to keep me buying them). This was an entertaining story with moderately good narration. If this is starting to sound like a school grade of "C", it is. The book would have been improved with editing. I love long books, but only if their depth and length are a benefit. This book went on at least two hours longer than necessary. The conclusion came in the last nine minutes and was sketchy at best (but didn't leave me scratching my head too much). All in all, if you're a Picoult fan and looking for some entertainment, try this. If you're new to Picoult you could do better than this novel as an introduction. The character definition was weak, the story was strong, and the organization was iffy. I'm not sorry I read this, but not especially glad I did either.
Jodi Picoult 's writing is compelling and I quickly found myself immersed in the story. As the mother of an high functioning autistic son I was curious as to how the plot would develope. Her depiction of the autistic son was so two-dimensional and insulting to those on the spectrum that by the end I was disgusted.
The entire ending assumes that those on the spectrum behave as preprogrammed robots with no ability to censor their actions, no ability to add what they know to what they've been taught. This is not so. The novel carries on for chapters (spoiler) because no one bothers to ask the boy if he is guilty and he simply doesn't mention that he didn't do it?!! Even after he goes to jail and then on trial!!! And this doesn't even touch on the misinformation Picoult throws in there about autism and vaccines (she needed to do her research, the doctor who initiated the study linking vaccines and autism and the medical journal who printed it retracted all findings because the study's research didn't follow ethical guidelines- in other words the doctor cheated to force results because his financers were suing the people who made the vaccine). Yet, even after naming the mmr vaccine as the cause of autism, she does point out well known celebs diagnosed with autism- these individuals well into their 50's and 60's-too old to have recieved the mmr vaccine. Lastly Picoult depicted the mother and brother as social pariahs because of the main character's autism. Fortunately, the world doesn't work that way. If you do read this book please don't take away the picture Picoult paints of autism as accurate. She didn't do her research
Avid Audible Listener
This book left me, to put it nicely, extreemely frustrated and unsatisfied. I don't understand why an author feels the need to just cut things off without any sort of "ending". The readers were excellent, but Jodi Picoult will not be read by me again. I would only recommend this book to people who are trying to understand what Asperger's Syndrome is, but with a very strong warning, that you will not feel very good about it in the end.
Say something about yourself!
I love Jodi's books and this one is a winner. She digs deep and describe various individuals emotions beautifully. As always the research is excellent, not just about the topic of Aspenberger but of linked in subjects like forensic crimes and even wolves.
I could not put the book down.The only comment is that the ending is brief and there are many loose ends , but may be that also represents real life, never neatly tied up.
There is no doubt that Jodi Picoult is a talented author. She writes on such a variety of topics that educate and stimulate. Her books started to lean towards becoming "formulaic" (spelling?). Her themes were of a cntroversial nature and her characters forced you to consider both sides without providing bias either way. I needed to take a break fom her books for awhile because of that. I thought this was going to follow the pattern, but it didn't fully do that.
The presentation of loving and living wih Asperger's is well balaced. The situation of being involved in a murder case and having to use a defense antithetical to how the mother has raised her son is a little contrived but works in the end. It is contrived by having a police officer showing signs of attraction to the mother and then betraying her trust. In addition, a rookie lawyer is introduced who also is attracted to the mother and seamlessly fits into the family and easily and quickly "gets" how to handle someone with Asperger's. Then throw in the ex-husband (who does not show signs of wanting to get back with his first wife, thank goodness).
I generally don't care for multiple narrators but it was not as distracting as usual in this book. The voices were not jarringly different from one another. The transitions were smooth and differentiations well done. There was one (and that is one problem with multiple narrators: who knows which one is which) who gave to all the characters such short single syllable (robotic) responses that were only appropriate to Jocob.
As others have mentioned, the ending was a bit abrupt but not totally awful, in my humble opinion. But my main complaint is that having been rather long winded to build up to the climax, it concluded somewhat suddenly. Even so, I would recommend this read.
It had a true story feel about it.
There were many to recall. Most involved the characters' sense of humor.
They used appropriate inflections that befit the feelings of the character. I have yet to listen to an Audible selection that didn't sound authentic. Unlike soooo many that sound read instead of acted.
It was alternately funny, heart wrenching and tense.
More Jodi Picoult!
Very well read - good voice - liked the changes amongst characters. Story is fairly typical Picoult and I like her books. However, this one definitely dragged on. While very interesting in many places, the trial scene in last third of the book got rather repetitive because we'd already heard so much of the information about the young man and Asbergers. Love story between Emma and lawyer a bit hard to buy. It took me forever to finish this book as I just wasn't compelled to listen every day, and normally I am with a good book. The editor should've deleted more of the redundant information.