I finished Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones over the weekend. I had picked it up at the Albuquerque airport on a bit of a whim -- I was fresh out of reading material, and I recalled that Peter Jackson was going to film it after he got done with King Kong.
The first half of the book is outstanding; it completely absorbed me. It's tightly plotted, and the numerous non-linear asides provide a roller-coaster feeling that careens through dark, disturbing territory that's punctuated with moments of beauty and laughter. I honestly didn't expect to laugh out loud at a book about the rape and murder of a fourteen-year-old girl.
However, I suspect that the advance check arrived in the mail as the author was just past the halfway mark, because I swear it's like she went on vacation and hired a ghost writer to fill in most of the rest. As the spans of time between narrative installments widen from days into months and years, the story unwinds quickly into the drudgery of "and then a few years pass, and we check in with everyone's emotional state, and then a few more years pass." Wash, rinse, repeat. There's a bit at end of the book that almost manages to salvage the back half, but it feels too sudden and disjointed, awkwardly glued into the middle of much lesser surroundings. The end itself just sort of happens arbitrarily and the sense of satisfaction is one of having completed the task of reading, rather than of things being concluded as they should.
That said, I think that Heavenly Creatures proves without a shadow of a doubt that Peter Jackson will be able to make an utterly marvelous little movie out of this uneven read.
- Mood: Literary