Ruined by Reading

The Pact

Posted in Drama, Fiction, July Book Blowout by M on August 1, 2008

The Pact is about how two seemingly inseparable families are torn apart by the crimes of their children. Emily and Chris had grown up together for their entire lives. It was only natural that they would fall in love, so it was no surprise when they began dating in high school. Everyone seemed happy with the arrangement except Emily, who can’t get it out of her head that being with Chris feels like being with her brother. When she discovers that she’s pregnant she cracks under the pressure, fearful that this would disappoint her parents and mean that she would have to be with Chris forever. In the middle of the night both families are awakened by a call from the police and discover that Emily is dead. Was it suicide, murder, or something in between?

I love Law & Order so I liked the general premise of the story. I could easily see this book being made into a TV movie. To me, the best part was the trial and I loved how Picoult showed the prosecution to be the enemy instead of the defense. Most movies or TV shows only show one side to it – they make the audience hate the defendant because he must have committed the crime. But Picoult does something different. She humanizes the accused and shows that there’s more to it all than meets the eye, whether they’re guilty or not. All in all, it was a good idea, and an OK story, but there were too many negatives for me to fall in love with it.

One major flaw was that it was so predictable. It was very easy to guess what was going to happen next, and there were no real surprises or curve balls thrown at the reader. It seemed like Picoult attempted to throw in a surprise, but it just didn’t go over well. By the time she tried to change up the story, I was already several steps ahead of her.

I also thought that the book wasn’t believable enough on an emotional level. The emotions of the characters were described, but Picoult did nothing to make the reader feel Emily’s hopelessness, the betrayal Chris felt, or how sad any one of the characters felt over Emily’s death. In my opinion, a good author can make the reader feel all these things as if it were happening to themselves. One of the only times I felt moved was when the family dog died. It’s unfortunate because there was a lot of potential in the story, but Picoult’s writing just doesn’t have enough depth to it.

It was pretty cheesy at times, too. Picoult tried to throw in the beginnings of an affair between Emily’s father and Chris’ mother, as well as a budding romance between the defense attorney and his private investigator. I’m thankful that she only hinted at it or began it, but never finished it. Again, these things were predictable and are overdone in what I like to call “grocery store checkout ‘literature'” or, “bored housewife material.”

I think The Pact is worth a read, and it was interesting enough to finish quickly. Picoult isn’t a poor writer, but I wouldn’t call her a great one either. She’s just not imaginative enough for me, but I’m willing to check out another one of hers that many have suggested – My Sister’s Keeper.

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  1. […] Jodie Picoult and Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. I’ve posted my review of The Pact here, but I have yet to post my review of Interpreter of Maladies. I’ll probably post it tomorrow. […]


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