Sunday, April 25, 2010

Let's Discuss.... The Lovely Bones

I read The Lovely Bones back in January, and generally speaking, I rather enjoyed the book. I found it compelling, and as far as I was concerned, the book read in a way that drew me through the novel, teasing me at every turn with new words and patterns that I found interesting and which demanded my attention.

I enjoyed the story and characters throughout the majority of the novel, and discovered that I wanted to know more and more about Susie Salmon, her family and her killer. In the long run, however, the information that I really craved, those little details that make a book memorable to the point that it lives as a piece of you long after you've finished reading it... Those details never came. In the end I sense that Ms. Sebold didn't know her characters any better than I did by the time that the novel was finished.

The book itself wasn't "bad" by any means. While there have been some intensely critical reviews of this novel on various bookish networking sites, I am inclined to disagree with the general (negative) sentiment regarding The Lovely Bones. There is a point in the novel where it begins to drag, and where even I (who gave the book four stars) felt as though I was having to force myself to read it. The ending gave the impression that the author was simply done writing, having reached the required word count and was ready to wrap the book up (I've seen this before in other first novels).

I'm interested to hear what my readers thought of The Lovely Bones. Did you read it? Do you plan to read it? What did you think of the story itself? All opinions are welcome!

I'm including a link here to a book club discussion guide if you would like to consider that, but I would like to get some discussion going of some of the various books that I've read. If you haven't read the book in question, please feel free to simply skip over it.

I've included a Mr. Linky so that you can post your reviews of The Lovely Bones here for others to view your reviews as well as mine. Let's discuss!

(Mr. Linky is after the jump to conserve space!)


  1. i was suprised to read in your post that this book has recieved alot of criticism. personally i loved this book, it came highly recommended from several friends and i cried like a baby towards the end (not giving away any spoilers but the bit with the 'gentle' + 'man'). i'm intrigued now, and am going to try to read some of the neg reviews and then get back to you with my thoughts!

  2. I was also surprised at first, but most of the criticism is really right on the nail with this one.

    Personally I did think that the ending of the book was weak and was frustrated that Sebold didn't quite manage to pull it off the way I would have liked.

  3. I read this book quite a long time ago, but I remember really enjoying it. Can't really remember too many details about it, just that I enjoyed it and it made me want to read Sebold again.

  4. This book is one that has passed me by, when it came out my sister was the same age as Susie so I managed to read the first part before I stopped and I never picked it up again. My mum did managed to read it and although found parts differcult she did love it.

  5. This book was part of a televison book club in the UK. They're not quite Oprah but they have some good bookish types choosing for them.

    I read The Lovely Bones on holiday so managed to woolf it down in a couple of days. The first chapter was hard to get through; the subject matter more than the writing. Sometimes I find it difficult to say I "liked" reading this book. Using positive words to describe such a book grates with me. And "interesting" doesn't cover it.

    Have you read Lucky by Alice Sebold? It's about her own experience of being raped and the case going to court. Very graphic and upsetting to read. Some of the scenes in the court were horrendous and the legal system's treatment of women who have been raped is disgusting.

  6. ok, so i've read alot of negative reviews on the criticisms seem to be about poor characterisation, difficult subject material, purple prose and dislike of the ending. i suppose i can see people's points, but for me i thought she handled a difficult topic with grace, i really liked the characters and believed in them, i liked her turn of phrase and i liked the ending just fine. so, like most things, we all like/dislike different stuff and what appeals to one wont' appeal to another. makes for interesting blogging :-)

  7. I haven't read Lucky though I've definitely thought about picking it up. The subject matter, however difficult, interests me, in large part because I cannot imagine surviving something of that nature, or being the surviving family member of a child like Susie Salmon (even though clearly Sebold survived her own rape).

    Personally I didn't find the characterizations flat except perhaps for Ruth who I found strange beyond the intentional strangeness of the character. I am, however, bothered by the fact that I didn't find her characters memorable, which is saying something coming from someone who can virtually recite the last ten books that she's read, with authors and main characters. I couldn't remember the title of this book when required to recall it the other day, and that made me sad.

    My biggest beef with The Lovely Bones and something which is actually making me re-think my star rating on this one, is the fact that the ending is more than a little bit weak.

    I've found this in several first novels that I've read (mostly unpublished). The appearance here is that the author was simply done writing the story, and wanted to finish so that s/he could submit the book for publication. It's not uncommon, but it is something which, in my opinion, needs to be corrected before the book goes to print.

    I don't want to have to worry about spoiling this book for anyone who hasn't read it, so here is your warning:


    I don't hate that Susie never pinned her killer: he got justice in the end regardless. But the scene between Susie/Ruth and Ray in the end was disturbing and incredibly contrived in my opinion. I don't see why it needed to be added into the story at all.

    All this being said, I am a huge Twilight fan. I can't help myself. I know that it's crazy and wrong on so many levels, yet I love these books. I also enjoyed The Lovely Bones for everything that it is.

    Odd how with some books I'm able to overlook flaws but others don't get quite enough credit at times.

  8. wow...this is a great review really cover on most of everything. pretty impressive.. =)

  9. I read this book when it first came out, so I am very fuzzy on the details at this point, but I do remember that whenever I was reading it, I was completely sucked in. I was still in college at the time, and I would read LB during downtimes at my job as a cashier, and I'd look up and feel lost for a second or two while I was trying to remember where I was and what I was doing. It also took my emotions on a roller coaster ride; I often felt anger, despair, fear, and sadness. I'd like to read this book again at some point and see if it will affect me the same way.

  10. I need to go back and look at my earlier review of this book. Not the one on this blog, but on my old blog.

    I know that I was affected by the book, but what I find strange is that it didn't stay with me. I have Gilbert Grape issues I suppose. Nothing can stand up to the memorability of that particular book (for me).

    On what I think is a rather interesting side-note, I'm about to make up a list of books for later on, when my husband and I take off for the book store. Many of the books on this list come from blogs authored by the people commenting here :)

  11. I started it (many many moons ago) but the subject matter turned my tummy and I had to stop. I'm a total weakling.

  12. I found the point of view from which the story is told to be very imaginative-I would say I liked the book over all but did not love it

  13. Hi, Becki, I am new to your blog.

    I read this book a few years ago, before I ever ventured into the world of book blogging. I thought it was a beautiful book, and found myself spell-bound. (That being said, though, I have almost no desire to see the movie. I think I'd find it too creepy and frightening.)