BOOK REVIEW: The Lovely Bones

Following the completion of mock exams last week *cheers*, I found myself in bed, and determined not to look at anything that mentioned the words ‘computer science’, ‘electromagnetic spectrum’ or ‘moles’. Having recently finished the whopper of 1Q84, I found myself drawn to one of the slimmer novels in my shelf – which turned out to be The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold. And it’s a rather fascinating read.

I ached. I realized I would never rush out into the snow with Holiday again, would never push Lindsey on a sled, would never teach, against my better judgement, my little brother how to compact snow by shaping it against the base of his palm. I stood alone in a sea of bright petals. On Earth the snowflakes fell soft and blameless, a curtain descending.

From p57 of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

For a start, the storyline itself was totally different to what I had expected/ As I hadn’t seen the movie (and bought the book on a whim in a charity shop), I had somehow deduced that it would be very cop drama-esque; girl is murdered, manhunt led by an earnest detective ensues, criminal is arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. Your bog-standard detective story. But Sebold has put an intriguing spin on the events outlined. The novel is narrated by fourteen year-old Susie Salmon, whose earthly remains consist of an elbow and a pool of blood. And she’s watching her family from above. In heaven. (Entire plot right there!)

Susie’s voice was perhaps the most important aspect of the story for me, as well as Sebold’s interpretation of Heaven. The fact that Susie remains with the reader, and her family, throughout the novel, means that she’s not yet another faceless corpse – we can relate to her and recognise her as an actual living breathing person. Although what she longs for most – to actually grow up, on earth – is so awfully removed from her, I loved the narrative that consistently is that of a fourteen year old, because I am a teenager myself, and this really helped me see things from Susie’s perspective.

And that perspective, gazing down from Heaven, was what made the entire novel. I absolutely loved how it changed in accordance with one’s true desires, and I think that Sebold got her descriptions absolutely spot on. I was captivated by the setting more than anything else, and so I was a tad distracted from the actual plot line…

In all, I’d give this three out of five stars. Great take on your average murderous novel.

Have you read the book or seen the film? If so, I’d love to hear your opinions!

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