ARC REVIEW: The Book Of Two Ways – by Jodi Picoult

Title: The Book Of Two Ways
Author: Jodi Picoult
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
First published: October 20th 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Finished reading: October 15th 2020
Pages: 400

“We all have stories we tell ourselves, until we believe them to be true.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Well, well, well, what do we have here? I guess it’s unpopular opinion time again… Sigh. I have loved Jodi Picoult‘s recent books without fail, so I was fully expecting a repeat experience with The Book Of Two Ways. The blurb sounded absolutely fantastic, and I had high hopes of adding another title to my list of 2020 favorites… But fate had different plans in store, and somehow I ended up having a completely different reading experience instead. I’m not sure if this was just the wrong time for me to pick up this story, but the fact is that I struggled considerably with The Book Of Two Ways. How much? Well, let’s just say that I started skimreading long before I reached the halfway mark just so I could be done with the story quicker… And that is never a good sign. I’ll try to explain shortly why this story didn’t work for me below.

First of all, I have to say that I still love the premise of this story. Both the elements involving Egypt and its past and the death doula element are intriguing topics and definitely stand out in The Book Of Two Ways. BUT. I didn’t like how especially everything relating to Egyptian history was incorporated into the plot. There was a LOT of info-dumping going on, up to the point where I felt like I was reading a dense history book on the ancient burial sites and Egyptian history instead. I love learning new things in my books, but this was just way too much for me and really took the pleasure out of reading about Dawn’s time in Egypt. The focus on the death doula element was better incorporated, although once again there was some info-dumping going on and it sometimes it felt like the author was trying to explain what a death doula does in general instead of focusing on Dawn’s work in particular.

I also struggled with the flashbacks and switches between past and present as well as different locations. Instead of adding dept, it slowed down the pace even more for me as I tried to figure out which Dawn was in the spotlight. I would have preferred clearer boundaries between the different moments in time, as I felt that the different storylines were kind of bleeding into each other and less strong as a result. The writing itself is solid of course, but that is what I’ve come to expect of her work… But somehow the actual story just didn’t do it for me. The fact that I didn’t like the main characters, or that the story included one of my mayor pet peeves (cheating) didn’t really help either… I seem to be in the minority though, so definitely don’t give up on The Book Of Two Ways on my account.


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