Thursday, 20 March 2008

Nineteen Minutes

Title: Nineteen Minutes

Author: Jodi Picoult

Number of pages: 512

Started: 17 March 2008

Finished: 20 March 2008

Opening words:

“In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn; color your hair; watch a third of a hockey game. In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five… In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.”

Plot summary:

Sterling is a small, ordinary New Hampshire town where nothing ever happens -- until a student enters the local high school with an arsenal of guns and starts shooting, changing the lives of everyone inside and out. The daughter of the judge sitting on the case is the state's best witness -- but she can't remember what happened in front of her own eyes. Or can she?

Summary taken from Amazon

What I thought:

I liked this book, although I didn’t think it was one of Jodi Picoult’s best. The subject of a school shooting was quite a good plot and it was interesting to see how the story impacted a whole range of people from those who were bullied to those who were the popular kids at school and everyone in between.

I did slightly struggle with a few things in the book though. The first one was that there was some really poor editing so that in several places in the book words had been elided so that instead of it saying “the cat”, it actually said “theat” and you had to work out what it was actually meant to say. That was such a basic thing to have got wrong that I found it quite irritating. Second, which was more fundamental to the book itself, was that the book showed people as their public persona so, for example they were “Mr Popular” but when you chipped below the surface you saw that actually they were very flawed and when it came down to it, not very likeable. I found it very difficult to really like any of the characters in the book - with the possible exception of the policeman, Patrick.

Whilst it was perhaps possible to relate to aspects of the story, as we have probably all been to school, and it is likely to bring back some recollections (whether good or bad), it was difficult to feel much empathy for any of the characters. Maybe that is more of an accurate (and cynical) view of society, but it did make it more difficult to really care about any of the characters. I did enjoy the book and, as is Jodi Picoult’s usual style, it brought various ethical issues to mind, which is one of the things I like about her writing, but ultimately I didn’t find it as engaging or as believable as I have some of her others.

No comments: