BOOK REVIEW: The Lovely Bones – by Alice Sebold

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Title: The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Sebold
Genre: YA, Mystery, Crime, Drama
First published: 2002
Finished reading: June 1st 2014
Pages: 328
Rating 3

“Each time I told my story, I lost a bit, the smallest drop of pain. It was that day that I knew I wanted to tell the story of my family. Because horror on Earth is real and it is every day. It is like a flower or like the sun; it cannot be contained.”

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When I was browsing for new books to add to my readinglist a while back, I saw a lot of contradictory reviews of The Lovely Bones. People seemed to either absolutely hate or love this book by Alice Sebold, and it made me want to check it out for myself to see what all the fuss was about. And although I found the end to be not credible at all and even a bit fantastical, I was able to like the general idea of the story. Alice Sebold describes us her version of the afterlife, where its residents in Heaven can create the world they would have liked to live in when they were still alive…

The Lovely Bones doesn’t have a lot of action in it; the story is more about the different emotions and ways of cooping with such a terrible loss. Unfortunately the different characters are behaving in a stereotypical way, which made the story less original. A father blind with grief, a mother in the middle of a midlife crisis, a little brother who has an imaginary friend, a girl who is into ghosts and other dark stuff… Sure, the fact that Alice Sebold is telling the story through Susie is original, but the other characters just felt a bit flat and not credible. Especially with the mother Abigail I had serious problems; I felt her character wasn’t well described and I just couldn’t believe or understand why she would do and act the way she did. Sure, grief can make you to do strange things in order to take the pain away. But when I was reading what Abigail was doing during all those years, I couldn’t stop asking myself: Seriously?!

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The Lovely Bones introduces us to Susie Salmon, who was murdered one day walking back home after school. Her body was never found, but we as readers know exactly what happened to her because it is Susie who tells us the story from her own personal Heaven. Although the body was never found, there was no doubt left Susie was murdered. She follows her family she left behind as well as the killer and various others that were important to her, although she is unable to contact any of them directly.  Both the police and her father Jack are trying desperately to find the killer or at least more physical evidence, but they seem to fail… Jack thinks his creepy neighbor George Harvey did it, but he has no proof and the policemen quickly become tired of his phonecalls. Abigail drifts away from her family and the kids grow up mostly with their father and grandmother. Susie watches them struggle and grow up from Heaven, and seems to want to continue living through the lifes of the ones she loved. The killer was able to escape town, and the authorities try hard to find him. And next comes the end, the terrible end…

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The end for me destroyed a story that could have been so good, if only it would have been written differently. I’m not sure whether to recommend The Lovely Bones; the general idea is interesting, but for me it didn’t make up for the flaws I encountered. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate the book. I just didn’t love it either.

9 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Lovely Bones – by Alice Sebold

  1. Pingback: Listing the reading | It's All About Books

  2. Well done for working your way through this book. I believe in finishing mediocre novels and finding out why I think they are not great. It nearly always reminds me why I love books and encourages me to find one that I do think is great. Keep reading!

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    • I totally agree; I find it hard to leave a book unfinished, even if I absolutely detest it. I prefer finishing the story so I can have an honest and realistic opinion about the book, since sometimes the second half of the story can improve… I guess the fact of me trying to broaden my literary horizon will mean I will encounter more books I won’t enjoy as much as others. But I know that will only make me enjoy the ones I do love even more.

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      • Cool, you’re right, some books can certainly improve halfway through or upon a second reading. For example, I found this with Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. Keeping a broad literary horizon comes with keeping a broad mind, I believe. What a wonderful and various world we live in!

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