Originally published at my blog Chasing Empty Pavements
Right away I noticed that this book followed the same formula as her other ones. Abnormal child, angsty sibling, overworked mother, transparent and predictable romance. Most of the time Picoult can get away with using her formula because the writing is done so well and she executes the story in a way where the formula is forgotten. Not in this one. The general premise is that Jacob is a teenage boy with Asperger's Syndrome which a high-functioning form of Autisim. His brother Theo is two years younger and is sick of all the attention his brother gets as well as having a brother labled as a "retard." Their mother works very hard and loves both of her sons to an extreme. Jacob, like many other autistic children have a speciality they focus on at point in time. For Jacob this speciality happens to be criminal forensics. He creates crime scenes, and trys to solve murders and even shows up at some crime scenes to help police solve the case. But when someone close to Jacob and his family ends up dead, there ends up being substantial evidence that points to Jacob as a suspect. The premise sounds great doesn't it? I thought so too, but Picoult messed it up along the way somehow. First off, it's extremely difficult to capture the entire reality of Asperger's Syndrome in a novel, especially when you are an outsider to the fact. If all of her information is factual and correct to what it is like to have Asperger's than I would guess she did a pretty good job of showing us on paper. But she tried to go leaps and bounds over her knowledge of how Asperger's would play out in a courtroom setting, in a trial and etc. The first half of the book was wonderful. It was written in true Jodi Picoult form, the characters were given backgrounds, their quirks examined, she brought them to life. The second half was terrible. I dont know where she went wrong, but it was like reading an entirely different novel. She raises questions, but doesn't answer them. She doesn't tie up loose ends. And the worst part...she ends it so terribly. I literally was SO mad at the ending that I threw it on the ground after I'd finished it. I was THAT mad. It made me realize two things. One, every talented writer can have a really shitty book after being super successful. Two, if she can write a terrible book and still get paid gobs of money, than by gosh, so can I. I give this book a D on my rating scale.