Posted by Unknown |

Book Thoughts

I started reading My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult on Friday. I was intrigued, because I had heard lots of women talk about her, some rave about her (perhaps only 5 but that seems like a lot), but never once heard a man mention her and she seemed to come out of no where. I was interested as to why this was so. So I've started reading.

I'm eating the book up, it's a very easy read. I'm just under half way through and I really want to keep reading. She's filling my spare moments.

The story of this book is about a girl who has been born as a designer baby to be a genetic match for her older sister who has leukaemia. She was born so she could donate blood, bone marrow, organs, etc to keep her sister alive. The girl decides she's had enough of this and files for medical emancipation from her parents, she wants to be able to make her own decisions about her body. This is effectively signing the death sentence for her older sister.

The book paints a really interesting picture of a family struggling to cope with big problems. I'm really enjoying seeing how well thought out the situation is. None of the characters are black and white, there are no good guys and bad guys. And the ethics of it all are in your face, and heart, the whole time.

On the other hand the book isn't as well written as I would like. She lacks subtlety. There are metaphors strewn through out the book, but they’re easy to find because she makes sure they're at the end of a section of story. There are certain lines of dialogue dripping with subtext which she points out to you by virtually writing in the next line "That contained subtext and the deeper meaning is..." It makes me feel a little stupid. I don't want to be given neon signs to find the hidden treasure. Of course I am stupid, rarely can I read a book and figure out what they're really trying to say ("Animal Farm was about communism? Really?") But I at least like to pretend I can. Stories should be able to stand on their own and get richer with the deeper meaning.

I wanted to get that off my chest because well, it's interesting for me. She sure beats the hell out of Dan Brown, his characters are thinner than the paper they're written on, and everything else is predictable, sensationalist, dull and, well, bad. And she writes better than Clancy, but Clancy writes about spies and tanks so he probably beats her by a smidgen (except for Red Rabbit, which was a poor execution of his own well trodden formula). She beats Grisham who writes to match the price of his books (I got two for $6 but actually got them for free because they priced them wrong in Woolies). She’s not as good as Rowling who doesn’t pretend to be anything she’s not and doesn’t treat her readers like ten year olds. She isn't as good as Courtney, but at least her characters preach less. Tolkien wins hands down, his writing is like eating a rich mango (I would say peach but I don't like peaches) which is exquisite when you eat it and it hangs around, filling your life long after mango is gone; you can still taste it a year after reading it. In my view she also can't touch de Bernières, because he preaches at you for a whole book but you never saw him doing it, and he weaves words into pictures, emotions, characters and stories, leaving you enthralled at both the intricate little bits and the sum total. He un-pretentiously shows you the other half of the English language, and then makes you decide you should go find it for yourself.

So in my completely un-comprehensive list where does she fit?

de Bernières (He’s probably up there on the strength of Captain Corelli’s but the other books are good)
Clancy (but he’s more fun)

There are lots of other people I would love to write about (C.S. Lewis, Chuck Palahniuk, Jeffery Archer, Stephen King, David Gutterson, and probably lots more) but well, I need to go to bed.

Anyway, my verdict is she’s wroth reading (although rarely do I read a book that I regretted reading, The Day After Tomorrow, Tim Allen’s book and anything by Archer are notable exceptions). I don’t quite get why all the women love her so much. I think perhaps because the female characters are well written, better written than the male ones (which is rare, probably because a lot of the popular writers are men), and the male characters fit stereotypes that appeal to women (not to say all the characters are appealing, just the stereotypes).

I say all this only half-way through the book and I could be wrong on everything. I might write again when I finish the book.

I didn’t mean to write this much, I think I’m just having too much fun. Writing about books makes you look high brow and educated. Either that or just a conceited fool.